About Us

We are a leading social action charity providing high quality services and support to excluded, vulnerable and isolated Irish people in Britain. As we reach out, we hope we're contributing to a fairer, more just society, one person at a time.

Learn More

Our services include

visiting prisoners and offering an information and advocacy service in England and Wales to them and their families

advocating for the human rights of Irish Travellers & Gypsies, providing support and education in the criminal justice system

alleviating loneliness and social exclusion experienced by older Irish people by offering friendship, pastoral support and advocacy services.

providing a general outreach service for younger immigrants from Ireland

Our Story

We offer advice, support and friendship to Irish prisoners in England and Wales, older Irish people, Irish Travellers and Gypsies and younger people with an Irish background. We're the only charity in the UK offering help to Irish prisoners. Here's how our story unfolded.

1950s

In the 1950s and 60s many people from Ireland came to the UK. The Catholic Church in Ireland recognised that moving to another country was no small endeavour and that it would take time for those people to settle in.

1957

So in 1957 the Irish Bishops sent 9 priests to minister to the many Irish people who had arrived in England in the post-war years. To begin with the priests quite literally walked alongside people working in the construction and hospitality industries, marking the start of the Irish Chaplaincy.

1000

people helped every year

We’ve been mentioned in the press on numerous occasions for the vital work we do. We help as many people as we can with the resources we have.

Today

Today, we continue to meet and walk alongside Irish people, especially those most isolated and vulnerable such as Irish prisoners, older Irish people and Travellers. Our work stems from our spiritual roots, embracing the core meaning of Catholic, which is 'universal' and 'inclusive'. We work with people regardless of their religious background.

Who said innovation was the only route to revolution?

Although the term ‘innovation’ seems to be the buzzword, we’ve found that most of the time it’s the little things that make a big difference. For example, simply talking to someone, holding a Travellers’ forum in a prison to offer someone a voice, or writing a letter to a prisoner are the most effective ways to lift their spirit. We know people’s needs change over time and we’ve carried out plenty of research to be sure we’re offering the most helpful services. But the message is clear, that in most cases simply being a kind friend is powerful enough to change someone’s life. For us, these simple actions have stood the test of time.

“I would have gone downhill without the Chaplaincy. Now I’m enjoying life again and getting out.”

(Client, 2017)

Supporting prisoners & their families

Welfare and healthcare in prison and their human rights

The Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas (ICPO) is the sister organisation in Ireland of our outreach project for Irish prisoners and their families in England and Wales. Irish people are the 2nd largest ethnic minority in the prison system today, that’s over 1000 people, almost half of whom are Travellers.

We help them and their families with a range of concerns through our advocacy service such as with their healthcare in prison, human rights and or their welfare. We also support people with repatriation and offer our friendship so that they don’t feel alone regardless of their conviction. Although we don’t offer legal advice, we have built a network of people and organisations over the years that can help and we offer plenty of useful resources.

See our work with Irish prisoners

Human rights for Irish Travellers

Our work with Irish Travellers

We also advocate for the rights of Irish Travellers, for example by protesting with them against a site demolition, supporting their educational needs in prison or by writing to the authorities on their behalf. This community has a rich culture and is often misunderstood.

See our work with Irish Travellers

Reaching out to older Irish people

Our Irish Seniors Project

Over the years we have also developed meaningful friendships with older Irish people who have specific cultural needs. We offer a listening ear to a person who may not have had anyone visit them for a year. We find that they seem happier and lighter after our visits and we receive many thank you messages for relieving the pangs of loneliness.

See our work with older Irish people

Our Funders

We are most grateful to the ongoing support of our funders and many individual friends and donors.  You make it possible for us to continue looking ahead with hope.

There are many more people who would benefit from our services if we had the resources. We’d be grateful for any help you can offer either by becoming a volunteer or by donating.

Looking ahead with hope.