Recession-hit grandparents taking a hands on role in separated families are also coming to the doors of centres nationwide in large numbers looking for advice, counselling and help with bills.
The heads of the country’s 107 family resource centres revealed the growing trend yesterday while launching their annual report.
Packie Kelly, chair of the Family Resource Centre National Forum, said young men who previously had jobs in construction were finding themselves without qualifications to find new work.
“Some of the young guys left school and went straight into the construction trade... all that work is gone. They’re struggling. Some bought houses at exorbitant rates and are in negative equity. They might have worked six years in the industry and now they’re ‘saying we’ll work in childcare’.” Support given to young men at centres includes training courses through Fás or financial advice through budgeting agencies such as MABS.
Family centres have also seen an influx in stressed grandparents, some in their 80s, taking on a parenting role in divorced families and acting as parents for their grandchildren, Pat Bennett, chief of the government agency supporting the centres, said: “Obviously with the change of family formation and with economic situations as well, the role of primary carer is falling back on grandparents in increasing numbers over the past five to six years. A difficulty is grand-parents reskilling themselves to leading a family... they’re playing a huge financial role, becoming financers for families.”
In 2009, family resource centres overall provided participants with education courses (16,642), employment training programmes (13,710) as well as self-development courses (8,573).
Information was provided to a total of 154,793 people during the year, on issues ranging from social welfare rights to housing and personal debt.
Community Minister Pat Carey praised the family centres: “You are a great agent for ideas, a crucible for trying out things and a catalyst for change.”
One family explained how the Pearse Street centre in Dublin city had given them a lifeline through employment.
Catherine Purcell, 56, works as a “meals on wheels” facilitator for the community, while her daughter Louise, 35, works in the centre’s front office and her granddaughter Abbie, 5, attends its play section. She said: “It’s great to work for the area and the daughter is in administration down here also. It’s basically an income coming in. It’s hard to get work now in the recession.”