One of Britain’s biggest stars, X Factor host Dermot O’Leary, is appealing for people to back the London Irish Centre’s special Christmas appeal for vulnerable members of the Irish community in the city.
O’Leary, whose full name is Sean Dermot Fintan Michael Gerard O’Leary, Jr. was born to Wexford-born parents Sean and Marie. He wears his Irish heritage with pride and is an avid supporter of the Wexford hurling team and Irish soccer team and more recently he has become the patron of the London Irish Centre.
‘It’s a big honour for me to be patron of the London Irish Centre. I’m very proud of my Irish heritage, my parents were part of the post war generation of immigrants who came to London to find a new life, so the London Irish community is one that is very close to my heart. We want and need the Irish community to support this important work for the Irish in most need.’
While there are no shortage of success stories of the Irish in London, there are also many who emigrated who find themselves lonely and vulnerable, especially during the Christmas period. Social isolation, mental health problems, addiction, family breakdown and homelessness are among the many issues faced by some emigrants, with older people being particularly vulnerable.
For over 60 years the London Irish Centre, located in the heart of Camden, has offered a safe and warm sanctuary for many of these people. It provides a diverse range of community services, cultural programmes, advice services, and outreach activities. The centre also organises social activities and journeys to Ireland for long-term emigrants, some of whom haven’t been home in decades.
The London Irish Centre is appealing for much needed funds to continue this work while also reminding people to consider contacting any overseas relatives they may not have heard from in years.
Christmas can be a particularly difficult time for many emigrants and this issue hit the headlines in 2013 when 85 year old emigrant James Gray from Cork placed an ad in the Irish Post looking for companionship at Christmas. After his ad went viral online James was eventually inundated with invites from throughout the UK and Ireland. (Reference: http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/cwojcwqlojsn/rss2/ )
‘For most of us, Christmas means friends and family, presents and looking forward to a great New Year. But, for many vulnerable Irish people in London, it means loneliness, a long hard winter and, and with ongoing welfare cuts, a grim time in 2017. This appeal helps us to provide support and advice services to those in most need.’
Seán Kennedy, CEO London Irish Centre
The LIC is asking for donations through JustGiving online at https://www.justgiving.com/londonirishcentre or go to www.londonirishcentre.org. For those in Britain or Northern Ireland you can text Text LICC40 and the amount to 70070. E.g. Send ‘LICC40 £20’ to 70070.
As part of the seasonal campaign, there will a special Irish community gathering and Christmas carol session at the London Irish Centre on Dec 12th at 7pm. Expect carols, live music and community.