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A celebration of icap's 25 years

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It was a real honour to join icap at their celebration at the Embassy of Ireland this week, marking 25 years of supporting the Irish community. Aisling McDowell, Irish in Britain's Community Development Officer, reports.

  • Ambassador Adrian O'Neill
    Ambassador Adrian O'Neill

Teresa Gallagher, founder of icap, opened the event with her speech. Speaking openly and tenderly, Teresa told of her own journey of immigration to Britain from Letterkenny, her family, and her experience of mental health and services. She acknowledged the unique mental health needs of migrants in general, and those specific to the Irish community.

She spoke of being driven and committed to providing a safe space where people could come and talk about their experience, in a culturally sensitive environment. A place, as described by her, where they wouldn’t necessarily receive advice or solutions, but more a space to feel heard and seen, and to heal.

Volunteers

In 1996 the service was born, initially operating out of rooms attached to St Mellitus Church in Tollington Park. The service was, for some time, exclusively volunteer led, and the team received only expenses for their work. Teresa spoke of wanting to take a moment of recognition for this.

Thanking her colleagues and peers for the collective effort in creating the service. Teresa said they showed an unwavering commitment to icap’s aims, and were people of compassion and integrity, and that this culture has been preserved throughout the years.

The service continued to grow and in January 2000 icap became a registered charity. Securing a Birmingham clinical centre in 2003 and a London clinical centre and premises in 2006.

Challenges

Paddy Cooney, Chair of board of trustees spoke of his journey with the organisation and  the challenges, not just in recent years, but of those before.

He acknowledged that the endurance and success of icap was owed to the staff, who he described as working tirelessly and sensitively, to help those most vulnerable in our community. He also said that the success was owed to peer support of many organisations, acknowledging that community is a collective experience and effort.

He thanked the Embassy for their ongoing support and recognition of the value of icap, without which they wouldn’t have survived or thrived, and he also acknowledged their funders. Paddy said that most importantly, he wanted to thank their clients, for their faith and their trust in the service, in supporting them with often, some of life’s most painful experiences.

At 25 years, icap’s successes are inspiring. Every day they provide culturally sensitive services ranging from one-to-one support, specialist community support, group services and support for victims of institutional abuse, meeting the needs of 200 clients a week, as well as providing sector training.

What a momentous journey and invaluable contribution to creating:

'A society in which therapy can empower people to lead full and purposeful lives, to enrich both themselves and the world around them.’

You can find out more about icap here.