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Mark is lost to poverty. He has brown hair, blue eyes and a skinny build. Mark has a lot of difficulty with school and finds it hard to stay out of trouble. He struggles to concentrate and he can’t make sense of his homework. He feels stupid. He does whatever he can to distract his classmates and avoid his work. Every day it gets harder for his teachers to try and control him. They’ve written him off but what’s worse is that he’s begun to write himself off.
Mark’s mum believes he has ADHD but has been waiting for over 18 months for him to be seen by the public Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. She works days and his dad works nights but they’re stretched financially. With rent, bills and school costs for Mark and his sisters, a private psychologist is simply not possible. But without the proper diagnosis his parents can’t access the care and support he needs. They are running out of options.
Mark’s mum tries to keep him calm when his dad isn’t home but he’s getting bigger and she’s struggling more and more. They’d love him to join a football team or an afterschool club but simply can’t afford it and know the more unruly he gets, the less he’ll want to join in with other kids. He’s started to hang out with a gang of older boys in the estate and has become more secretive. His parent’s often don’t know where he is or what he’s up to. The more they question him, the angrier he gets. They are terrified that he’s going to get into serious trouble.
Over 132,000 children are living in consistent poverty. No child’s access to food, warmth, health care or education should be determined by how much money their parents have or where they live.
Barnardos works with Mark through our Friendship programme encouraging him to manage and express his feelings and improve his social skills. A project worker is also working with his parents to support them in coping with his behaviour as well as offering practical budgeting advice. Barnardos is also campaigning to improve the public health system so a child’s access to timely healthcare is not based on where they live or their family’s income.
Join the Barnardos search. 1 in 7 children in Ireland are lost … lost to homelessness, lost to poverty, lost to neglect. It is up to us all to change this story. It is up to us all to tackle this injustice. Together let’s drive the change that is needed to give every child in Ireland a chance to reach their full potential, to ensure no child is lost.
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