Charity shops help with school essentials

Cash-strapped parents are being forced to turn to charity shops to cover the costs of their children’s back-to-school essentials.

With the start of the new school year just weeks away, charities say they have noted a sharp rise in the numbers of customers looking to purchase cut-price uniforms and books.

Theresa McCoy, from the Jack and Jill outlet in Arklow, Co Wicklow, said: “Many parents are looking since June. We’ve noticed a surge in the number of enquiries since then. Anything we get in we put out straight away on our uniform rail and it is snapped up.

“In particular we were selling generic white shirts for €1, which is a great help to many parents, and you could get a school uniform for €5, which is a great saving for people.

“We are getting donations of school books too and again they sell very quickly. We get donations right through to September and people still buy them. We sell uniforms and books throughout the year as we get them and find there is a demand for them.

“We have a number of regular customers who come in on a daily basis, looking to see if there is anything suitable for their child and we are often asked if we have more stock in the back. But whatever we get we put out because of the demand for it.”

The amount of money being spent on school necessities has soared every year since 2012, according to a recent survey by the Irish League of Credit Unions.

Up to 31% of parents are finding themselves in debt due to back-to-school expenses, with some forced to cut down their food bills to meet the costs.

According to the findings, parents are now spending an average of €967 per year on a primary school child and €1,474 on a secondary student.

Delays with Back to School Allowance payments are also leading more struggling parents to charity shops, according to Ms McCoy.

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