Children ‘going hungry’ in Galway as families struggleSeptember 18, 2012 - 7:30am
By Dermot Keys
A growing number of families in Galway are becoming caught in the poverty trap, according to St Vincent de Paul (SVP), as a new report reveals that child poverty is on the increase in the country.
Almost one-in-five households with children were at risk of poverty compared to one-in-eight childless households, according to a new report from the Central Statistics Office (CSO). Over 200,000 children are living in poverty nationally and a growing number of families in Galway are struggling to provide basic necessities for their children in the current recession.
The report found that households with children were facing a drop in income and an increased risk of poverty at a national level.
“That would be reflected here,” confirmed Madge McGreal, Acting Area Administrator with SVP Galway.
“We have an increase in single parents coming into us. About 40% or 50% of our clients would be single parents or two-parent families who are on social welfare.
“The children are very vulnerable.”
Two of the factors assessed in judging the risk of poverty are a household’s ability to provide food and heat, and many families in Galway are struggling to provide these basic necessities.
“People are coming in hungry. One woman who came in recently had only 40c to feed her three kids for the week.”
The cuts to the fuel allowance for those on social welfare and the rising costs of electricity, oil and gas have left growing numbers of Galway families struggling to heat their homes.
“A good number of people coming in here cannot pay their ESB bills or put oil in their tanks and that would be a lot of our clients.
“Our clients would have gone up by over 30%.”
Ms McGreal believes that any government plans to cut social welfare or the children’s allowances would be “very short sighted” and would have far reaching consequences.
“I think it is really hitting families,” she said, noting that working families would also suffer.
“We have people coming in who are employed and who have never had to seek help from us.”
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