A quarter of Cork schools have homeless pupils

A quarter of Cork schools have homeless pupils

ALMOST a quarter of primary schools in Cork have students who are homeless, it has been revealed.

Figures from the Irish Primary Principals Network show that more than 11 students are homeless at one Cork primary school.

Twenty-three percent of schools have at least one homeless pupil while 16% have at least one student in direct provision.

The IPPN, which is based in Cork, surveyed 128 Cork schools and found that there are at least 99 students who are homeless or in direct provision.

The number of homeless students in Cork primary schools highlights the extent of the current housing and rental crisis, according to regional manager of Focus Ireland, Ger Spillane.

Mr Spillane described the figures as stark and said with the rising rental market, the situation is only going to get worse.

“There’s a huge difference between what a family is entitled to from the Home Assistance Payment versus what the market rent is. We’re seeing a new type of homeless, the working poor, people who are gainfully employed but the rental market is out of their reach because there are so few properties to rent,” he added.

Mr Spillane added: “The properties that are available are at extortionate rates.”

The impact of homelessness on children cannot be overstated, Mr Spillane said.

“Because children are homeless, they are excluded from normal childhood experiences,” he explained.

“We would have seen cases where children wouldn’t be invited to birthday parties because it’s a reciprocal thing and they won’t be able to invite their friends to their home for a party or to play because, essentially, they don’t have one.

“There’s a stigma there because having a house is seen as the norm,” he added.

“Not having that impacts a child’s development.”

Homelessness can often impact on children’s school attendance and result in reduced participation in school life and learning, according to the IPPN survey.

“Homelessness for children is lonely,” said IPPN chief executive Páiric Clerkin.

“They often become isolated from their closest friends and relations. They become restricted and confined; their play area reduced to a hotel corridor.”

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