FERMANAGH families are going into debt in order to cover the cost of their children returning to school.
However, the fast-growing Facebook community, Fermanagh Free-Cycle, is a growing resource for struggling parents too. Based on the premise of giving away old items free in order to encourage reuse and to reduce waste, increasingly parents of growing children are offering their old uniforms for free on the site.
According to the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) almost two thirds of parents feel back-to-school bills are a financial burden. A total of 75 percent are managing to pay the bills out of their monthly income, however a worrying 22 percent now rely on credit cards to cover the costs.
It’s not just uniforms that are driving up the costs for families, particularly those with several school age children. School shoes, gym gear, books and school trips all add up too. On top of that, with schools working with increasingly stretched budgets, pupils are having to provide more of their own materials in subjects such as art.
The ILCU’s Paul Bailey urged parents not to let the debts mount.
“We would encourage all parents in need of financial assistance to contact their local credit union and forego credit cards completely,” he said. “The interest rates charged can be incredibly high, while people are often confused about how the interest actually works.”
Some local charities, such as the St Vincent de Paul, also offer help with back to school uniforms to those who are struggling to cope.
Posted: 8:07 pm August 2, 2019