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Breakfast Club tackles cost of living crisis for schoolkids


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Breakfast Club tackles cost of living crisis for schoolkids Breakfast Club tackles cost of living crisis for schoolkids

A new breakfast club has been set up in Galway to help children achieve their best at school with the benefit of a full belly.

The initiative at the SCCUL Enterprise Centre in Ballybane follows the success of a hot lunch served once a week for the elderly at the Ballinfoile Castlegar Neighbourhood Centre, which is also run by the same registered charity.

It’s a practical response to feedback in the community that families are really struggling with the cost-of-living crisis, according to manager Joanne Laffey.

For now, a continental breakfast of cereal, fruit and toast is being offered in the café between 8 and 9am while staff assess the take-up of the service. The free breakfast which is fully supervised by Garda-vetted employees is open to all children in primary and secondary school as well as students heading for college.

Pupils at Deis schools – which receive extra Government supports as a result of being located in an area of economic disadvantage – have been receiving a hotel meal since the start of term in an extension of the free lunch scheme.

But few receive breakfast unless children attend a before-school session which is not offered in every facility.

There is an afterschool club held in the neighbouring Ballybane Community Resource Centre.

Every day, there are hundreds of children passing the doors of the centre on Castlepark Road in Ballybane every day or queuing for a bus outside bound for multiple schools in the area, says Joanne.

“They might just want a hot drink, charge their phone or just shelter from the rain while they wait for the bus. Nobody knows what circumstances each child is in, so this is a safe space for them before they go to school.

“We only started on Monday [last week] so uptake is slow so far, but we hope the word gets out and more children come. If we reach even a handful of children, well that’s one more we’re helping.”

SCCUL (St Columba’s Credit Union Ltd) CLG was set up to “alleviate poverty and disadvantage by empowering positive well-being and growth”.

The Ballybane centre has 18 independent business units, shared office space with 16 hot desks, conference rooms, and a holistic counselling suite. SCCUL also runs Bizmentors to support start-ups and small businesses and has a sanctuary in Clarinbridge where people facing difficult life challenges can retreat to.

The Ballinfoile Castlegar Neighbourhood Centre, which also operates on a not-for-profit model, has quickly become a huge hub for the area where services have long been thin on the ground.

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