Irish Community Care, Merseyside
Celebrity Supporter Richard Corrigan, Celebrity Chef and IYF Trustee told The Irish Post: “The ICCM has been consistently excellent in the quality of its services to young Irish people and young Irish Travellers in the North West. Sally works tirelessly on behalf of young Irish people, particularly Travellers, both entering and leaving the justice system and while in custody, being sensitive to their cultural needs and problems and helping them arrange for assisted prison visits and finding work after leaving prison. Sally’s enthusiasm and commitment to this work is nothing short of inspirational — she is one in a million.”
Sally Murphy has been working as the ICC Merseyside’s Support Worker in Prisons for more than two years. The Liverpool native told us why the role she provides for more than 100 young Irish people is vital to prepare them to leave prison and not return.
Tell us about the charity and your role:
“I look after all our outreach work with the prisons around the centre — so I look after 12 prisons in total and act as a liaison for the young Irish men, mainly travellers, who are incarcerated there to help them with a range of issues. Mainly I help them keep contact with their families, access educational opportunities and offer advice and help them with resettlement when they are released. I also run drop-in centres at a couple of the prisons so I ultimately have about 120 young men on my books at any one time. “
What services does the charity provide for young people?
“These young people are in a very unusual situation — they are in prison and away from their families and the things they know. Without our service, me being there to talk to them, they would often not bother going through the usual prison channels to access advice, help and support. However when I am there, they will come for advice. They are often looking for information about funding and qualifications as they approach their release date. Or I help them gain voluntary work and placements in the community. There are many elements to it but ultimately the outreach work we are doing with these young people is so valuable as it has such an impact on their future when they leave prison.”
How does IYF funding support your work?
“The IYF funding which supports the work I undertake in my role is so vital for all the young Irish people we serve. It makes a huge difference to their future when they are released and it helps to get them back making a contribution to society — funding is a huge issue when it comes to the potential for these young people upon release. So much is won or lost on the funding available to get them into education, placements, accommodation — a range of things. Ultimately the funding allows us to provide some service to link them into services to keep them off drink, off drugs and out of trouble.”
How important is the work you do for young people you serve?
“Without us it would be disastrous for these young people. We get 10-18 people in two-and-ahalf hours at every drop-in session alone, and many more in the day to day work.We also see an awful lot of people coming from Ireland presenting homeless on a daily basis and we have to find somewhere for them to stay. All of these young people deserve the chance we give them, the chance to start afresh. When I give talks about what I do, I tell people not to write these young people off because they have a criminal record — I always try to explain that so many people who have criminal records can and do go on to have a successful career. Being in prison is a little blip in their life, it doesn’t have to affect their future, and there can be a better end to their journey. My job is a small section of the work the ICC does to ensure that this happens, that is why it is so important.”
What does it mean to your organisation to be nominated for the IYF Hibernian Hero Award?
“While the ICC is often recognised by the people we serve through the amount of thank yous we get, it is great to be nominated for this award. To win would be fantastic, it would be brilliant to have something to display to say there you go; this is what we do for our service users and the agencies we work with. We do appreciate it and we love to see it recognised, but it would be great to see it in black and white.”