After-school clubs, arts programmes, and parent and toddler groups are proving to be critical initiatives in helping to ease pressure on Limerick families as the recession deepens.  That’s according to the Family Resource Centre National Forum (FRNCF), which last week launched its annual report for 2010 with the support of Minister Frances Fitzgerald TD. There are 107 FRCs in Ireland in total, four of which are in Co. Limerick: Croom FRC; Hospital FRC; Southill FRC and St Munchin’s FRC.

Following the report launch last week, the Family Resource Centre National Forum held a political briefing event in Dublin to which all members of the Oireachtas were invited. Representatives from the four Limerick FRCs travelled to Dublin to brief TDs and Senators about their work and impact of FRCs overall. Jimmy Prior (Southill FRC), Noreen Meagher (Hospital FRC) and Martha Potter (Hospital FRC) represented Limerick at the event, which was attended by over 95 politicians including Minister Jan O’Sullivan, Deputy Niall Collins, Deputy Dan Neville and Deputy Patrick O’Donovan.

Speaking at the launch, the Chairperson of the FRCNF, Packie Kelly, said: “The loss of employment or reductions in household incomes is a very isolating experience for families.  Outings and social occasions are often the first cutbacks for people experiencing income loss.  Over a period of time, this can result in poor social contact, which is vital for self-esteem and family support.

The range and level of services available at each FRC varies, depending on funding levels and location.  However, all centres have an advice and sign-posting function and 136,675 people were assisted with information queries in 2010, while a further 56,030 were referred on to another agency. Last year, over 30,000 courses were delivered by FRCs and a total of 20,000 individual counselling sessions were delivered by FRCs.  The largest bulk of these concerned relationship issues (9,337 sessions).

In 2010, a total of 2,783 volunteers were involved in the delivery of tasks ranging from renovating community facilities to supervising youth groups.  Their work input – if compensated for at the minimum wage – would amount to €5.7 million.

The FRCNF annual report highlighted some changes in the individuals and groups that typically access services. 

“We are now seeing more men at our centres, a growing proportion of older people and a notable increase in the number of two-parent families that are using our services.  While we continue to see lots of lone parents and women, as a proportion, attendance for services by these groups is dropping,” said Packie Kelly.

Further information about Family Resource Centres in Limerick is available at