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Ennis students take over St Vincent de Paul shop to support those Locked out of Education

A GROUP of Ennis students will brave the elements this Friday in a bid to highlight the plight of those who have been ‘Locked Out of Education’. Gaelcholáiste an Chláir Transition Year students have launched a campaign to raise awareness of the barriers to education many young people face because of rising rents and other costs, while also raising funds for the St Vincent de Paul.
As part of this, on Thursday, December 9 from 9am to 6pm they will be taking over the running of the St Vincent de Paul shop in Ennis while on Friday night the students will be sleeping out at the school.
The campaign is part of the students’ Young Social Innovators project and money raised will go towards the St Vincent de Paul’s work in supporting struggling students.
Gaelcholáiste an Chláir Transition Year Co-ordinator Martina McNamara explains that the students were moved to act when they discovered that over 230,000 students attend third level education annually in Ireland and recent statistics illustrate that four in ten cannot afford student accommodation.
“This is a very high percentage. It costs up to €14,500 a year to put a student through college, including rent, food, fees and resources. It is just crazy, you would need to have two working adults on a substantial income to be able to afford that. There are literally students going from house to house because they can’t afford accommodation. We feel that students are being denied access to quality third level education due to consistently rising rents and other costs. It seems wrong, we all see the right to be educated as a human right and it is very unfair that students are being denied that.
“We have been working with the St Vincent de Paul and they have an educational fund which helps students at primary, secondary and third level. Through the campaign we want to fundraise money to donate to them to help those, especially at third level, in need of funds for rent, books, food, anything basically.”
This year’s event follows the success of a fundraiser last year which saw Gaelcholáiste students take over the St Vincent de Paul shop for 24 hours. “We raised nearly €6,000 which allowed us to support 60 families in Ennis for Christmas, which was fantastic. It was the first time that a charity shop was open for 24 hours and we were thrilled with the amount of support we received from the public.”
The shop will not be open for 24 hours this year, however the students are hopeful that the people of Ennis will continue to show their never ending generous spirit and support the worthy cause during the opening times.
“We have been doing a lot of work with James Dineen the manager at the St Vincent de Paul and have seen first hand the amazing work they do. They are down on donations this year, and are down on funds. We are hoping that our fundraiser will help support the work they are doing while also heightening awareness around the issue. On Thursday the students will be running the shop, they will be in charge of pricing, tallying up, putting on offers, everything. They are all really looking forward to it and we are hoping that people will pop in and show their support.”
For the Friday sleep-out the students will be bedding down, socially distant, on the school grounds. “We believe that college should not be inaccessible for those who desire to attend and should be much more affordable. Help us to help students from being ‘Locked out of Education’,” she concluded.
A Go Fund Me online fundraiser has been launched to donate to the appeal at www.gofund.me/42e6592e

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