BRITISH radio DJ Dave Berry is backing a charity helping lonely and isolated Irish people in London.
The broadcaster, who left Capital Radio in February to host a new weekday show on Absolute later this year, also spoke about how his Irish family had inspired him to pledge his support.
“I realised a lot of the work they do resonated with me and the reason is my mum is Irish, she’s from Mayo,” he said.
“My mum with my grandparents came over to England and settled in the late 1950s in Plumstead, south London.
“As you can tell by my speaking voice, I am English, born in England, but by my good looks, yes, I am half Irish,” he joked.
The presenter was speaking as the host of an event at Saddlers’ Hall in the City to introduce Irish Community Services (ICS) to the London Irish business community.
ICS provides culturally sensitive support and welfare services to Irish people in south London, though it is dependant on the generosity of its trained volunteers who visit many older Irish people living in the capital.
In 2016 volunteers donated over 14,000 hours of their time for free in what was worth £105,000 to the charity.
The orgnaisation helps those living in or near Greenwich, Bexley and Lewisham.
Last year alone 2,500 poeple benefited from the charity’s help. It served 10,000 lunches, raised £1.2million in welfare benefits, got 47 people into new accommodation and shelter and helped 30 people with addiction problems.
ICS Director Ellen Stafford said that many of their volunteers are past clients.
“This sprit of community and frienship is what has helped us to make our projects so unique,” she said.
ICS provides a range of services including elders outreach and carers support. It also put on a happy days reminiscence group for people living with dementia and memory loss as well as six weekly lunch clubs.
“We don’t have a centre,” Ellen Stafford said. “At first we thought this would be a disadvantage but soon found out that by having to hire out halls and community centres we were able to reach out to more old people in the three boroughs we work in.”
“Isolation and lonliness are big issues, they affect mental health, physical well-being and quality of life.”
Irish Ambassador Dan Mulhall, who was among the guests at the City awareness event, spoke too about the importance of welfare services like Irish Community Services.
Also present was ICS President Agnes Forde, the Irish Post Community Award winner for 2016.