The London Irish Centre’s outreach initiative to over-55s is ten years old
The Hanwell social group, the longest running of five groups across London run by the London Irish Centre charity, has become a ‘home away from home’ for the older Irish generation.
The over 55s group, which meet every Monday afternoon, celebrated its 10-year-anniversary this week with many of the members who have been there from day one.
“We come every Monday, religiously,” said Veronica Power, a longstanding member, “Hail, rain or snow! Because otherwise, we don’t get out.”
The social group has become a place for the older Irish generation to stay connected to their roots. They have a cup of tea and a chat, play bingo and run popular wellbeing exercise classes. For what started as a group in Ealing Town Hall, has become a ‘lifeline’ for a community in West London over the last decade.
“This place has helped me a lot,” explained Finnie Savage, who lost her husband over five years ago. “I don’t know what I’d have done without a place like this to come to.”
Many of the women who come to this social group are now widowed and are in unity when saying the Hanwell social group has given them a reason to get up and get out in the morning. Kay Reynolds, who has been coming to the group since the day it opened, said “Meeting other Irish” was the reason she joined. She explained how the social group filled a void that was left once the popular dance halls closed down.
Dermot Murphy, Chair of the Board of Trustee’s at the London Irish Centre charity, was amongst those in attendance with Ms. Reynolds at the inaugural meeting in Ealing town Hall. He explained that while people may think of Kilburn and Cricklewood as very Irish areas, Ealing had the second biggest Irish Ethnic group at that time. Caitriona Carney, Director of Community Services at the London Irish Centre, explained that the social clubs across London have brought together the older clients who cannot regularly attend the services in Camden Square.
“We sometimes presume that everyone has someone but working at the LICC has shown me that many people have no one. The clubs provide an opportunity for our community to come together and enjoy the company of others.”
Carole Fox, who runs three of the LICC social groups, said that for some of her clients, Monday afternoons at the centre are the highlight of their week.
“It’s a lovely environment where they can share their culture and can be at ease with one another. I think it’s important that people can be amongst their own and feel that they’re capturing a little bit of home, just a little bit of home from home.”
Find your nearest London Irish Centre Social Group
William Hobayne Centre
45 Lower Boston Road
London W7 3TP
St Mary’s Church
2 Edith Road
Wednesdays (1st and 3rd of
the month only)
73-79 Oakhill Road
Ealing Town Hall, New
Broadway, W5 2BY
St Stephens Social Club
3-5 Gayford Road