More Amsterdam families struggling to afford children's school supplies
At the start of the new school year, more and more Amsterdam families are struggling to buy their children the necessary supplies. Aid agencies in the Dutch capital noticed an explosive growth in the number of requests for help, Parool reports.
Stichting Leergeld Amsterdam already received 3,002 requests for help buying gym shoes, a bicycle to ride to school, exercise books, or laptops for the coming school year. In the entire previous academic year, the foundation helped a total of 3,028 children.
“It has increased especially in recent months,” Carolien de Jong, manager at Stichting Leergeld Amsterdam, said to Parool. “We are complementary. So only when people do not qualify for the municipal facilities, which mainly focus on minimum wages, do they turn to us. We do not look at the income but at the disposable income.”
Due to inflation and rising energy costs, “more and more middle-income earners are getting into trouble and are calling on us,” De Jong said. “Last year, we received 67 applications for basic school supplies like exercise books and pens. This year we have already received 87 applications. That shows how dire it is in families right now. You can only spend money once, and more money for the utility bill means less for groceries and other things.”
A spokesperson for education alderman Marjolein Moorman told Parool that the municipality also received more applications for help with school costs. “In almost all poverty schemes, we see an increase in the number of applications,” the spokesperson said.
Parool surveyed schools in the city and found that both secondary and primary schools are concerned about the coming year. Tina van der Berg of Polsstok primary school in Zuidoost said that parents are trying to absorb blow after blow. “First we saw difficulties due to the coronavirus, now due to the rising energy bill. With every parent who knocks on the door, we look at the situation and how we can best help the children.”
Maryse Knook of the Bijlmer Open School Community said the school community responded by offering breakfast at school this coming year. “We are going to offer breakfast in an accessible way: by having children come earlier and, for example, watch CNN together and discuss current events. In doing so, we don’t emphasize poverty, but we do offer what children need: a full stomach to learn well.”