-® gavinfreeborn (50)

Bhliain Nua Sásta ! Happy New Year !

I hope you had a peaceful and joyous Christmas to bring you safely into the New Year. As I reflect on 2017, moving into our 3rd decade as an organisation I am mindful of the fantastic support we have to help us provide the many sorts of services and activities that engage so many people.

Last year proved very difficult for us as 2 key funding sources were lost because of the wider changes in the City. This resulted in loss of a third of our income and staff team, making it harder to continue doing what we need to do. The support we have had since though has been truly inspiring. Members of the Irish business community and Irish individuals have rallied to our cry for help; we have had amazing donations to our fundraising appeals which have been used to support our St Patrick’s Day and Christmas events. With one particular donation we took a group of service users to Northern College to complete a digital photographic course. Their comments about what the course brought them in terms of confidence building, getting away from it all and making friends showed just how vital this support is.

Our figures for our first 6 months of this financial year show:

  • We have supported over 200 service users
  • 86% of the people we support live in the 10% most deprived postcodes in Leeds.
  • Approximately 80% of our service users are aged over 55 years old
  • Our gender profile is almost 50/50 male/female.
  • Over half of our service users self-report a disability, either physical or mental health
  • 67% of our service users were either self-referred or referred by their friends which shows how rooted we are in the community we serve.

People have increasingly offered their time to volunteer for us; a whopping 2186 hours of their time to help, support and befriend people in the community to be precise. What an amazing gift to us. We couldn’t do what we do without you, so Thank You.

In September, Irish Minister for the Diaspora, Ciarán Cannon TD came to see what we do as he acknowledged that he had witnessed ‘Care, Culture and Community’ in action when he met with service users at our ‘Telling Our Stories’ event which we were lucky enough to have local celebrity Irish poet Ian Duhig facilitate for us. He was also delighted to see and acknowledge the support of the business community at an evening event kindly sponsored by Sky Home Services and their Director, Carla Stockton-Jones at their amazing waterfront offices.

The Minister was also warmly welcomed by a long-lost cousin Tom who volunteers for us and was treated to a re-working of the ‘Cliffs of Dooneen’ by our CARA worker Sara. The video of this serenade became an internet hit with over 18,000 views on the Irish Post website. Sara has subsequently recorded the song with Chris O’Malley from Irish Arts Foundation to help us raise much needed funds for the CARA project whose funding ceases in March 2018. If you wish to purchase a copy please visit our website www.lihh.org

The Aran Home Support Service is now fully up and running and clients with memory loss and dementia are now being helped to retain vital independent living skills through our trained Aran Home Workers. Aran is a service which places the needs of the person with dementia or memory loss at its heart. Full details of this service and how to access support is inside this newsletter.

LIHH is an organisation that tries to bring a smile back for people when they may be experiencing loneliness or isolation; our events such as our tea dances, ceilli’s, weekly luncheon groups and walking group help break isolation, forge friendships, get people out of the house and improve their general health and well-being. 2018 will see us continuing to innovate in the ways we get people together, trying to reach some of the most isolated people in our community in bring them into our circle.

We cannot do this without the support of the community and so fittingly our year ends with a huge thanks to those who supported us during the year with donations and fundraising. Special mention to Allied Plant Hire, B. Gallagher Construction, The Gentlemen’s Charity Dinner, J M Haulage, KPH Plant Hire, Leeds Irish Centre, Leeds University Irish Dancers, Mary Garner, Mone Bros, Peter Duffy Ltd and Sky Home Services and the many private and funeral donations. Thank you all!

Happy New Year from me and all the staff here at Leeds Irish Health & Homes.

Ant Hanlon, CEO