Calls for state supports to help Cork’s ‘island of disadvantage’

An “island of disadvantage” has been identified on the southside of Cork City, as research finds almost two thirds of working families are at risk of poverty.

The findings led to calls last night for an increased range of state supports for families living in the Togher area, and for the reinstatement of DEIS status for the local primary school.

The research will be presented today at a symposium organised by the Togher Family Centre, one of the city’s largest providers of family and early education supports, during a symposium to mark the launch of its family support centre in Deanrock.

Centre manager Niamh Sheridan said the research is an extension of a study they conducted last year in a bid to reinstate DEIS status for the local primary school. It identified wider trends that required further investigation, she said.

The research, which focused on the centre’s 119 client families and their children, found:

  • An unemployment rate of 33.5%;
  • 43% are living in insecure or rented accommodation;
  • 66% of working families are at risk of poverty and are in receipt of, in some cases, several means-tested social welfare supports, including rent allowance, family income supplement, or medical cards;
  • Despite several parents having a post-Leaving Certificate qualification, the academic capital is not translating to employment or well-paid employment.

Ms Sheridan said it has been claimed that disadvantage exists mostly on the northside of the city, and while this may be true, the perception focuses the response to disadvantage in one geographical area.

“This research does not challenge the presence and concentration of disadvantage on the northside of Cork City, but instead attempts to draw the eye to another area and to create a space to consider the shape and dynamics of disadvantage there,” said Ms Sheridan.

She said the concentration of disadvantage on the northside has, over the years, led to a concentration of services, and a strong network of supports. However, pockets of disadvantage like Togher don’t benefit from this same kind of network.

Families in the southside suburb are doubly disadvantaged because they are living in an isolated area of disadvantage, with geography and inadequate analysis masking the disadvantage.

The new family support centre, in a house donated by the city council, is another step in the right direction, said Ms Sheridan, but she added that agencies such as the HSE and Tusla need to consider how they can respond to the challenges facing the community.


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