Cork primary school washing clothes and cooking meals for homeless pupils in bid to help struggling families

Cork primary school washing clothes and cooking meals for homeless pupils in bid to help struggling families

A PRIMARY SCHOOL in Co. Cork is looking to help out in the fight against youth homelessness by offering to do the laundry and prepare meals for pupils who might be struggling.

Nickie Egan, principal of North Presentation Primary School in Cork city, decided to do something two years ago when she realised that 12 families who had children attending her 270-pupil school were without homes.

She insists that staff notice a difference in pupils who become homeless, saying that children who once "bounced" in and out of school lose their spark.

 "We aren't the Government. We know we can't fix it but we can make it easier for these families," she said.

"Myself and the home school liaison teacher sat down one day after another family walked out the door. We were both in tears. We said 'what are we going to do?' And we just came up with the simple ideas and presented it to parents.

"We looked at the basics. The things that are causing such stress on the parents and such stress on the kids. So we have the breakfast club for them."

Ms Egan went on to explain that creating some sort of routine, for both kids and parents, can be so beneficial.

"We have the parents' room with the washer and dryer. So people can wash clothes here. Parents can cook meals here if they want to bring it home.

"We often supply the ingredients so a dinner goes back to the B&B. We help out with rain gear for them. Bus passes. We do what we can do."

"It is so sad when children become homeless. They love coming into school because school these days is so different. But they normally love going home too.

"And then when you see they don't want to go to where they are going or they didn't know where they were going. Children need routine more than anything. When they become homeless we are the only stable thing in their lives."

Ms Egan added that she's been pleased that so many have had the generosity to donate all sorts to her cause over the the year - including clothes, food, vouchers and even things like cinema tickets.

"I would be hoping that these children having had love and care from us would then show that to somebody else. If that is what they see during their eight or nine years here then that is the way I would hope they would go out in to the world.

"I don't know if this happens in other schools. Other schools might see this and say 'we can do that.' That alone would be amazing.

"You don't have to be a huge powerful person to make a difference in lives. Everybody can make a difference in somebody's life."