COPE Galway’s Community Catering Service has distributed over 700 school kits to families in Galway city and county who are at risk of poverty and social exclusion.
The local charity received the supplies through the Fund for European Aid to the most Deprived (FEAD ) Programme — an EU-wide initiative that helps people take their first steps out of poverty and social exclusion.
COPE Galway distributed the kits to families they work with through their family support and domestic abuse services as well as partnering with Túsla family support workers.
“Over the last two years, we have distributed over 1,200 back-to-school packs and we are very pleased to be able to provide the school kits again this year as school term resumes”, said Geraldine Ryan, Manager Community Catering.
“There is a gateway aspect to working with the FEAD programme, which aims to provide basic foodstuffs to families and individuals at risk of food poverty. We have a system for the food boxes already in place, so we are in prime position to roll-out the school kits programme to families.
“With the help of our volunteers, we have packed and distributed over 700 school kits to primary and secondary school children as the new term begins”.
Families have expressed how this support has been a “life saver”, that helps with the stress and huge costs associated with going back to school. One young person was surprised and glad to see there was a USB stick in the pack, saying “I really needed one of these, I wasn’t expecting it, thanks so much”.
Carol Baumann, Manager of COPE Galway Domestic Abuse Service said that having these packs ready for the women and children who use the service is invaluable.
“Our women have so many things to worry about and to deal with – the school kits take one worry away and help each child get a little excited about the new term.”
“It is a pleasure to be able to facilitate families to access this support; being able to help like this is one of the nicer parts of our job”, is the feedback from one Túsla Family Support Worker. “The school kits are a great support to the families I work with. In one house, four of the children were hugging each other with excitement when the packs arrived.
“The children’s mother advised me that she would now be in the position to get the children new footwear for school. We see every day how this support and the monthly FEAD food programme benefits families going through tough times.
“As a family support worker, it is a great help knowing that young people are attending school with the appropriate supplies. We are extremely grateful for this support from COPE Galway and FEAD School Kit Programme.”
FEAD Ireland is supported by European and Irish exchequer funding. The Department of Employment and Social Protection is the managing authority of FEAD in Ireland.
The programme has proved an invaluable resource that COPE Galway accesses for clients – families as well as individual men and women – across their homeless, domestic abuse and senior support services. In 2018, COPE Galway distributed food to 3,263 people in the Galway community through the FEAD programme.