When the pandemic struck in March 2020 many groups and associations within the Leeds Irish community came together to make sure that no one in the community was left alone during what we all imagined was going to be a tough few months until this virus was contained.
Under the banner of 'We are many groups, but we are One Community-Leeds, Irish and United', LIHH were more than happy to put our shoulder to the wheel as this was the type of activity we have been doing throughout our history
What started as an initial desire to protect the most vulnerable from isolation and despair, turned into a project to bouy people through the long hard months it turned into as we witnessed friends and community members slowly withdrawing and being less likely to respond to calls and communications.
The Associations mobilised volunteers alongside LIHH staff to deliver over 1300 packs of Irish goodies (Craic Packs) providing a 'taste from home'. Packs also contained a community newsletter to let people know what was happening out and about. There ere also vital pieces of health information included for many who did not have access to online news. A Christmas present was followed by an Easter egg as the Craic-packs initiative helped bring some seasonal joy.
Local schools were engaged and pupils sent drawings and cards with messages of hope and support that brought many a tear to our eyes.
People were delighted. We received phenomenal feedback which has steeled our determination to keep things going as the delivery often turned into an impromptu welfare visit/check-in where individuals responded to kind words and deeds in person.
Here are a few things that people said:
“Thank you for the craic pack received for Christmas. It was very thoughtful of you. A lot of my friends were delighted to receive the welcome gift. The way thing are going you might be delivering an Easter egg in April.” AM
“I would like to say a massive thank you for the bag of goodies that was delivered to my Father today. You are all doing an amazing job, which is very much appreciated”
Well, what a surprise I got today when I opened my door. I could not believe it. I have been feeling so low and have not really been out or seen anyone, but when I saw this young man with all these goodies for me, I did not know what to say. I was so touched that you thought of me. I cannot thank you enough. It really lifted me (KR)
I did not need much, and I really did not need a craic pack, but just the thought that you thought of me and came to see me as I have just lost my brother means so much. (C.O’D)
The staff and volunteers got so much out of helping people feel connected and uplifted through this terrible time.
The Craic will be back for Christmas 2021 when we hope we are well beyond the constraints we have all become so accustomed to.
The groups involved in the Leeds Irish Communities Associations initiative alongside LIHHwere Leeds Comhaltas Ceoltórí Éireann; Hugh O’Neills GAA; JFK GAA; Leeds St Patrick’s Day Parade; St Benedict’s Harps GAA, Leeds Irish Ladies Golf Society; Leeds Irish Golf Society; Joyce O’Donnell School of Irish Dance; Helen Rowland School of Irish Dance, Irish Arts Foundation, Leeds Irish Centre and others.