By Damian Dolan
London’s inter-county players have come together to make a donation towards helping vulnerable and elderly Irish people in need during the coronavirus pandemic.
The county’s footballers and hurlers have donated £1700 to the London Irish Centre’s Covid-19 Appeal.
“Some of those they’re helping could be people who come out to watch our games and support us, so this was a chance for us to give something back to them,” London senior football captain Liam Gavaghan told the Irish World.
“The Irish Centre is doing some great work, helping those who are high risk by getting food supplies to them, and we wanted to help.
“We reached out to all of the players, and the response was fantastic.”
The London Irish Centre, located in Camden, has been working to identify and support elderly and vulnerable Irish people, especially those living alone.
Big thank you to the Irish Government’s ESP programme for supporting the continued work of the LIC.
— LDNIrishCentre (@LDNIrishCentre) March 27, 2020
The centre’s response to the pandemic has included the delivery of food parcels twice a week, hot lunches delivered to people’s homes three times a week, the introduction of a health and wellbeing advice line and telephone befriending phone calls.
London hurler Kevin Reid said: “We made contact with the Irish Centre a couple of weeks ago to see if there was anything we could do.
“At home, the GAA is community based in your local parish, and the players are coming out to support the people who are normally supporting them on the field.
“Over here we’re very dependent on fundraising and volunteer work. Now is a chance to give something back to some of those people, and to the Irish community in London at large.”
Some of the players have also answered the centre’s appeal for volunteers to help it deliver is support services.
We are delighted to announce an online advice chat service.
Our accredited and experienced advice workers are here to help Mon-Fri 9.30-1pm & 2-4pm.
Simply visit https://t.co/v2W0EHMSNH and watch the chat pop up in the bottom right.
High quality help at your fingertips. pic.twitter.com/0b4NC2emWV
— LDNIrishCentre (@LDNIrishCentre) April 7, 2020
London hurling team physios Rob Buckley is part of their specialist health advice line team using his expertise to support clients.
Hurlers Michael Burke and Eoin O’Neill are part of the centre’s new cohort of trained Telephone Befrienders.
Saturday 2 May should have seen London’s footballers host Roscommon in the Connacht Championship quarter-final at McGovern Park, Ruislip. The biggest game in the London GAA calendar.
It’s the first time since 2001 – and only the second time since London were given home advantage in 1981 – that the game has not taken place.
“Every year, it’s the game that Gaels in London really look forward to,” added Gavaghan.
“As a player you’re missing training and being around the lads, and the chance to play in big games like against Roscommon in front of a large crowd.
Community spirit is alive and well in Camden Town.
1. We receive community food donations
2. Our team lovingly pack them into personalised home deliveries
— LDNIrishCentre (@LDNIrishCentre) April 14, 2020
“So it will be a bit gutting on 2 May, but at the moment there are more serious things to think about. The priority now is to make sure people are safe.”
London’s hurlers were due to open their Christy Ring Cup challenge away to Down on 9/10 May.
To donate to the London Irish Centre Covid-19 Appal go to bit.ly/covid19appeal
If you know someone who could benefit from their services or if you would like to volunteer your time, please contact London Irish Centre Volunteer Co-ordinator Sinéad Whelan on [email protected] or on 07947111786
The health and wellbeing advice line is run by the centre’s resident nurse Ciara Ward, who can be reached on 07946202924 or [email protected]