Moving away from home for the first time is never easy. When I left my small rural village in Ireland for the bright lights of Liverpool city, in order to attend University of Liverpool, I had no idea what to expect. FYI embarking upon the Washington Ireland Program and spending the next eight weeks in Washington DC evokes similar feelings. During my time in Liverpool, however, I was lucky enough to be introduced to Irish Community Care Merseyside. ICCM is a registered charity that exists to identify and respond to the needs of both the Irish and Irish Traveler communities across the Merseyside area.
Currently ICCM offers a range of front-line information, advice and outreach support services, including welfare benefits advice and advocacy, support around homelessness, seeking more appropriate accommodation, poor health, drug or alcohol misuse, cultural and social isolation. ICCM also facilitates social support groups for Irish elders and it was this aspect of ICCM’s work in particular that I had the privilege to be involved with. This group works to reduce isolation, and empower older people to make decisions on how they can best meet their social, cultural and welfare needs.
One occasion engineered to achieve these objectives was a luncheon held in St. Michael’s Irish Center, in Liverpool. My role was a supportive one, assisting the staff who work at ICCM to plan and pull off the event. I helped to organize catering for the event and entertainment throughout the day, including live music and Bingo. People tend to take the most pleasure out of the simplest of things and the odd gamble makes things more interesting. From my own perspective, the most important and enjoyable part of the event was interacting with the people for whom the event was organized and watching all of the planning and all of the hard work come to fruition.
Good communication is essential when working with people in any capacity. I hope that my service project has set me in good stead for my internship this summer – the Communications Department at the American Chemistry Council.