Limerick schoolwear charity sees ‘unprecedented’ demand

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

Big demand: Suzanne Roche, founder, Limerick Gateway to Education and Karen Keane, the store manager. Picture: Adrian Butler
A UNIQUE Wickham Street charity shop has been “unprecedented” demand from Limerick parents this summer.

A UNIQUE Wickham Street charity shop has been “unprecedented” demand from Limerick parents this summer.

With parents struggling to fund the cost of school books and uniforms, Limerick Gateway to Education has stepped into the breach.

The charity shop - which has operated for three years - allows parents to drop off books or clothes they no longer need.

And in return they sell them on at a much reduced cost to new items, with school jumpers costing from €10 and books reduced to as low as €15.

It also provides one to one educational supports through grinds for students aged from six to 18 years, with or without special needs, which is enabled by support from students and staff from the University of Limerick, Limerick Institute of Technology, and Mary Immaculate College.

Founded by Rosbrien mother-of-three Suzanne Roche, the shop - staffed by 26 volunteers - has gone from strength to strength.

This year, between 700 and 800 parents have been in the shop looking for donated items to give their children, the store manager Karen Keane revealed.

“From the last week in May, when children got their lists, to now, we have been so busy. Demand has been unprecedented,” she confirmed, “Since the Back to School Grants were given out two weeks ago, it has been manic. Last week and this week have just been unbelievable. We have had messages on Facebook asking if we have certain books.”

Asked why she thinks there has been such an increase in demand, Karen added: “If you can calculate the average cost of sending your secondary school child back to school with all their books, it is between €350 and €500. It is simply not in most families budgets to spend that kind of money. Most families are sending more than one child back to school. If you have two, three, four children going back to school, it is a fortune.”

Limerick Gateway to Education is always seeking donations of books, and volunteers are always welcome.

For more information, telephone 061-481633.

Alternatively, visit the web site at www.limerickgatewaytoeducation.ie.