Over £20,000 has been donated by the Amy Winehouse Foundation to an Irish centre helping young people in crisis in the capital.
The late singer’s father Mitch Winehouse visited Camden’s London Irish Centre to hand over the vital cash.
The money was donated in the same week as it was revealed the majority of young Irish migrants come here unprepared for the challenges of finding work and permanent accommodation in the city.
Most are struggling for as long as six months to find a place to live due to a competitive rental market and extortionate prices.
The Foundation’s relationship with the centre began last year when Mitch switched on the Christmas tree lights at the centre, located in Camden Square, where Amy had lived.
LIC Director of Welfare Jeff Moore said: “This partnership allows us to continue to provide targeted advice on housing, benefits, debt and employability services.”
A new handbook – Moving to London: A Practical Companion for Irish People – was also launched at the cheque presentation.
The guide, which contains information on finding housing, employment and getting help in a crisis, has been billed as an essential document for young Irish migrants here.
Research shows that most Irish people who are moving to London are between the ages of 18-35.
“The booklet contains links to organisations such as the Department of Work and Pensions and Transport for London, as well as advice from professionals in Irish organisations and from recent migrants themselves,” Jeff Moore added. “It also carries advice from Irish people who have moved to London in the last 18 months.”
There have already been hundreds of enquiries about the book from all walks of life.
“In our experience, the profile of recent Irish migrants to London is very diverse,” Jeff said. “Our cultural services and volunteering programme are engaging with well qualified professionals. However, our advice services continue to work with individuals who are moving to London in chaotic circumstances.”
He added: “In researching this booklet, we asked over 140 recent migrants about their experience of moving to London. For the majority, finding housing was one of the most difficult aspects of the move.
“Many respondents were shocked by the price and competitiveness of the housing market and some people explained that it had taken as long as six months to sort out permanent accommodation.
“Above all, the majority of people we spoke to said that they regretted not undertaking more planning before moving to London. Some recent migrants said this had caused them a lot of stress and anxiety.”
Over the last couple of years the London Irish Centre has seen a significant increase in the number of young people accessing its services.
Jeff said: “This St Patrick’s day over 1,500 people came to events at the centre, the majority of whom were younger Irish people. Our volunteering programme, social media and sports activities are now engaging with large numbers of young people, and each week our advice services help young Irish people who need advice and support finding their feet in London.”
He added: “As always, the centre continues to provide for the needs of vulnerable older Irish people but now thanks to the support of the Amy Winehouse Foundation we are now able provide a preventative and on-going support and advice for younger Irish people in London.”
An online version of the handbook is free from the London Irish Centre’s website, with printed copies available from the centre directly.
See www.londonirishcentre.org for more details.