As a native of Liverpool, with Wexford roots from my maternal grandfather, I grew up with stories of the family farm back in Ferns, and stories of my grandfather, Henry Gahan, a Liverpool man, who was a veteran of the trenches of World War One.
As a member of the Royal Engineers, he would crawl out into no man’s land-that very dangerous space between the British and German trenches-to try and intercept German messages on their telephone lines. However, at the end of 1916, as a result of the wet conditions of the trenches, he became ill and was discharged from the army and returned to his job as a post office telegrapher in Liverpool.
A hundred years ago on 11 November 1918, he was on duty in Liverpool’s main post office, in his role as a telegraphist. He was responsible for receiving and sending messages via morse code-a series of dots and dashes-along radio lines, one of the main methods of electronic communications a century ago.
We are delighted to announce a fundraising walk in aid of our Elderly Campaign, which takes place on Saturday October 6th 2018 in Mayo, Ireland.
Starting at 11 am from the Trailhead in Mulranny to Newport.
All are welcome to join us. Those taking part will include Alan Brogan (former Dublin Gaelic footballer) who is Ambassador for this campaign to raise funds to support elderly Irish living alone in London.
Campaign details are available here.
DONATE. Choose Elderly Campaign from the list. Don’t forget to subscribe also to our Newsletter.
For further details please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 0207 482 5528
Sport, Spirituality and Seniors
One of my earliest childhood memories is of the Italia ’90, the 1990 Soccer World Cup Finals. It was the first time that the Republic of Ireland reached the finals and the team, affectionately known as Jack’s Army, was under the direction of Jack Charlton. New anthems were written, there was a run on Credit Union loans to finance fans visiting Italy and the nation truly held it’s breath at the penalty shoot-out against Romania. On returning home after the finals, Jack’s Army received a hero’s welcome.
Irish Chaplaincy is hiring!
We are looking for a Pastoral Outreach Support Worker to help to expand and develop our befriending, support and advocacy service for elderly Irish across London. Salary £26,360. Deadline: April 12th 2pm (interviews May 1st). Please return completed application form (and Equal Opportunities Monitoring form) to email@example.com (Tel: 0207 7482 3274)
How do I find words to describe a rather emotional journey into the vulnerability, pain and plight, pride and resilience of our elderly Irish, often the unsung heroes or the broken survivors. I have plenty of time for reflections as I travel across the whole of London to visit the elderly in their homes, hospitals, and care homes.
“It is a lifeline for the large Irish community both in Camden and across London”
(Sir Kier Starmer, MP after a visit to the Irish Chaplaincy and Seniors’)
“I would have gone downhill without the Chaplaincy. Now I’m enjoying life again and getting out”
(Client interview, 2017)
Thanks to a grant from a funder, a thorough review of the Irish Chaplaincy Seniors’ Project, ICSP took place in June and July 2017. A consultant, Sharon Tuppeny interviewed many stakeholders, chief amongst them being the Seniors themselves, and she concluded:
‘There is… a pressing need, both in the present and the foreseeable future, amongst frail isolated elderly Irish people. The ICSP would be well placed to address these needs if additional resources were in place.’
Fr. Michael O’Connor, parish priest of Sacred Heart R.C. Church, Kilburn, noted that:
“The Irish Chaplaincy offers a unique service supporting isolated older Irish, as they are aware of the particular spiritual needs of older Irish, which can be essential in supporting their clients improve their mental health.”
Andy Slaughter, MP for Hammersmith says:
“I have worked closely with the Irish Chaplaincy and have always been impressed with the quality of the service and the level of care given to people who are often extremely vulnerable. The help they give not only includes emotional support, but also practical help and advocacy for people who are often going through difficult periods in their lives.”
What comes across especially strongly in the report is the voices of the Seniors’ themselves and their families:
“They always call every week, then they chase up others who have forgotten me. I can’t keep calling social services; it makes me ill.”
“It’s like a bit of home every week. I see other people but none of them are Irish; they don’t understand.”
“You work miracles. Without you I don’t know where I’d be. I would be on the streets in tears.”
“I wish everyone could have a Chaplaincy caseworker– they manage to get services in place for their clients like no one I have ever worked with.”
“Things don’t happen without the ICSP calling, pushing, advocating.”
“It is staggering the progress that has been made with the case since the Chaplaincy got involved. I could cry.”
“I would love to see someone…but the phone call is a lifeline.”
“People want to be treated holistically, in their totality, and this includes their mental health and spiritual needs.”
“ICSP connect with Irish elders in a way we (other provider) might not.”
“Your visits are a lifeline for me”- James Connolly, seen here with Pat Delaney who visits him regularly.
In the light of the report we have made several applications for funding so that we can recruit an additional staff member for ICSP plus more volunteers. The presence of an extra staff member would also free up Paul, the ICSP Manager to develop our partnership working in a variety of areas such as dementia care, end-of-life care, hospital discharge and the interplay between spirituality, dementia and mental health.
Several years ago on St Patrick’s Day, I spent a few hours in the company of some older Irish immigrants to London, enjoying a chat and some Irish music and waiting for our bacon and Cabbage dinner to arrive! Each was proudly wearing their piece of shamrock. As the conversation unfolded it became all too apparent that for these men and women who had left Ireland as young people several decades ago, St Patrick’s Day was much more than an excuse for a party. It was a reminder of home and family, of a faith and a culture that was deep within them and crucial to their identity. Continue Reading