Irish charity ‘amazed’ by ‘outstanding’ response to toy appeal

Irish charity ‘amazed’ by ‘outstanding’ response to toy appeal

A CHARITY serving some of the most vulnerable members of the Irish community in Birmingham has thanked the local community for supporting its annual toy appeal.

Birmingham Irish Association (BIA) launched its annual Christmas campaign last month, hoping some of its locals would support the drive to collect toys that could be gifted to children among the community who might not receive a gift this Christmas.

“Christmas is slowly approaching, and there will be children in our community not receiving presents due to family finances,” the organisation explained as they announced the toy appeal in November.

“Please help us make this Christmas extra special and put a smile on a child's face,” they added.

This week, the charity confirmed they had received an “amazing” response to their 2023 appeal, even despite the harsher financial circumstances being faced by all this year.

“Throughout the winter at Birmingham Irish Association we have re-introduced our Toy Appeal, which is focused on helping individuals and families who are struggling at Christmas due to the cost-of-living crisis,” they explained.

“With the help of GAA clubs, all Tolkien Primary schools and members of our community we have received an outstanding donation of toys again this year,” they confirmed.

“The response to our organisation’s appeals are always amazing, but this year with the crisis affecting even more people in our community, it has touched our hearts to see the generosity and kindness that has been shown,” BIA added.

“We have managed to deliver the toys to families in hope there will be lots of smiles this year on Christmas day, which would not be possible without the continued support we receive.

“The staff and trustee’s at Birmingham Irish Association are truly grateful to everyone who has got involved, had amazing community spirit and made a difference to a child’s Christmas.”

Founded as the Irish Welfare & Information Centre (IWIC) in June 1957, when migration from Ireland to the west Midlands was high, the organisation provided support for people arriving in the city with little money, no accommodation or employment.

Today it continues to provide vital support, advice and welfare services to members of the Irish community across the city.

This week BIA Chairman Pat O’Neill sent a special Christmas message to the charity’s staff, supporters and clients.

“On behalf the board of trustees, I would like to wish our management team, staff, volunteers, funders, service users and all our stakeholders, a very warm and Happy Christmas, and to wish you all the very best for the new year ahead in 2024,” he said.

“For the Birmingham Irish Association, it has been another successful year where the team have reached out to our growing community and supported so many people with complex referrals, applications, welfare, health, or through providing a welcoming smile,” he added.

Reflecting on the year gone by, Mr O’Neill said it was “a year filled with so many wonderful events that helped promote the Irish language and culture”.

“Those that stand out include the return of the hot food and drink to those in desperate need, the coming together to celebrate the creativity and talent of Irish women on St Brigid’s Day, the logistical planning to host the St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Cannon Hill Park that has put us in good stead for the return of the parade in 2024 and the stunning contribution to host the Twilight Takeover in Centenary Square,” he said.

“Also the work of our wonderful dementia centres, the tireless support in helping our Clients, and to end the year bringing joy to so many children through the Christmas Toy Appeal.”

BIA’s front office will close on Friday, December 22 reopen as normal on January 2, 2024.