Community support services in Donegal have found themselves facing a new wave of poverty as families struggle during the Covid-19 emergency.
Nappies, baby food, clothes and fuel are among the items that parents have been unable to afford in the downturn.
Local non-profit groups have been rushing to the aid of vulnerable families across the county.
Now, a community fundraiser is underway to help staff and volunteers meet the demand for essential items : https://www.gofundme.com/f/funds-to-help-children-and-families-during-covid19
The fund is being managed by Lifestart Service CLG, who support almost 700 families across Donegal.
Regional Manager Mary Walker Callaghan said: “All of the services are working really hard to support vulnerable families out there. There is a lot of need. We are dealing with a new poor – people that would have lost their jobs due to Covid-19 and we are linking with other support services to help.
“Although we have set up the fund, it is for the benefit of all organisations for parents of young children.”
Lifestart has already linked with local food banks and St Vincent de Paul to help families in poverty. But there are larger purchases that charities “simply can’t afford”, such as nappies and baby formula, clothes, fuel, coal and heating oil.
“Families with newborn babies need to be able to provide clothes for them but no shops are open. Over the past month we have seen a rise in isolated families who can’t get out because they don’t have transport, or they have small children and can’t bring them to a shop. At this time a lot of parents are also looking for thermometers,” Ms Walker Callaghan said.
Through GoFundMe, Lifestart is seeking to create a poverty fund which will be supported by the Children and Young People’s Services Committee in Donegal. A working group will be formed to direct money to where it is most needed.
Funds raised will be provided to established parent and youth services in the county and no cash or cheques will be offered to families in need. Instead, requests will be met with vouchers or payment direct to retailers.
Lifestart, which focuses on child development, has also led a project to provide art materials to families in isolation at this time.
“It’s very difficult, we are also dealing with a lot of mental health issues. There is a lot of anxiety and a lot of fear,” Ms Walker Callaghan said.
“But there is a lot of good work going on in the county. All services deserve a lot of credit, it’s amazing to see.”