AN organisation in Clonakilty invested €45,000, last year, in supporting 30 students attending college and university.
This year, St Anne’s Conference in Clonakilty, is hoping to match, or maybe even increase, that number by offering an annual €2,000 bursary to qualifying students.
Noel Lawlor, the organisation’s education officer, told The Southern Star that one of the issues they have as an organisation is that people associate St Vincent de Paul with emergency situations.
‘We are here to do a lot more than that, we are here to promote education but, in order to do that, we must first encourage people to come to us to look for help,’ Mr Lawlor explained.
Noel said: ‘We have a bursary up to a value of €2,000 for each student per annum – which comes with qualifying criteria – and that would be made available to the students for the duration of their courses.’
Agnes Cahill, the president of the Clonakilty conference, pointed out that most of those students would already have been accepted for the Susie scheme.
However, she said the State grants would probably not stretch to cover their accommodation costs if they are attending third level colleges far from home. She said, ‘The €2,000 is there to cover whatever they need – everything from travel, to special tools they might need for the courses they are doing, even clothing.
‘Sometimes too there is a need for childcare for students who are parents.
‘And families, who may have multiple children in education, can also benefit from the bursary.’
Although Agnes and Noel are very well known in Clonakilty, the conference president said it is important to point out that everything is done in complete confidence.
She said that anyone calling the Clonakilty number or emailing [email protected] can ask to deal with someone that is not known to them.
‘The reason we do this,’ she added, ‘is to let people know they can feel safe, and that their privacy will be respected.’
Commenting on the €45,000 invested last year, Agnes said: ‘This is made possible thanks to the generous donations we receive during our annual collection in December, as well as the contributions and fundraisers throughout the year.’
‘Some people might find it hard to approach the organisation, but we would like them to know that the fund is there, it is available to them, and that we are only too happy to be a small cog in supporting their endeavours,’ said Agnes.
Noel added: ‘It would be great if people would approach us as if they were approaching a family member. We are a part of this community and anything that benefits the community as a whole has got to be a good thing.’
Meanwhile, the SVP area president, Helen Dempsey told The Southern Star that all of the conferences throughout West Cork offer similar bursaries.
The contact numbers for each of the conferences are as follows: Bandon 086-8255092; Bantry 086-1710559; Dunmanway 086-3458037; Skibbereen 087-9182698; Clonakilty 087-3769935.