Family Resource Centres witnessing ‘unprecedented’ demand for food parcels
It's a difficult time for a lot of families.
The vast majority of Family Resource Centres (FRCs) have experienced a sharp increase in demand for their services since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, with particularly high demand for parent and family supports, food parcels, and counselling and mental health services.
Unfortunately this comes at the same time that the income generated by FRCs has fallen steeply.
The Family Resource Centre programme is the largest community-based family support programme in Ireland.
Through a network of 121 FRCs, it supports families in communities experiencing poverty and disadvantage.
The FRCNF survey shows that 83% of FRCs have experienced an increase in demand for their services over the past three months, with a significant majority of those (62 per cent) witnessing an increase in demand of more than 25 per cent.
When asked how Covid-19 restrictions have been impacting on their local community, FRCs identified a number of key trends, as follows:
-A negative impact on poverty, unemployment and social exclusion.
-Increased demand for support, including from new service-users.
-Serious concerns about the current increase – and anticipated ongoing increases into the future – in demand for mental health supports.
-Greater collaboration between diverse agencies and support groups; and a strong community spirit evident in response to Covid-19.
Commenting today, Clare Cashman, Chair of the FRCNF, said:
"FRCs nationwide are experiencing significantly increased demand for their services and supports, at the same time as experiencing a decrease in income. There has been a sharp rise in demand for mental health supports, food and essential home supplies, activity packs for families, and check-in calls for vulnerable and isolated members of local communities."
To supplement their core funding from government, FRCs typically generate additional income through activities such as room hire of facilities for local community groups and fees to cover the delivery of education and training courses.
In responding to the FRCNF survey, almost all FRCs (93 per cent) said they had experienced a decrease in income as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, with 74 per cent of those experiencing a decrease of more than 25 per cent.
Hopefully with COVID-19 restrictions lifting many of those who were made temporarily unemployed will be able to regain their income and will no longer need services like these, but as yet it is currently unclear when business will be completely back to normal.