Man who upcycles furniture for Irish in London wins award

Awards showcase the work of volunteers who support the Irish community in England

Brian Heffernan receives his award as best individual volunteer from the award sponsor Conor Foley of IIBN, with nominator Guy Bolongaro (left)

A man who upcycles furniture for Irish people in London, a care in the community group that visits vulnerable and housebound members of the Irish community in Stevenage in Hertfordshire and two volunteers at Irish Community Care Merseyside, who have provided financial support to the group and its members, are the winners of the first annual Irish in Britain Volunteer Awards.

The awards were made at the Irish Embassy in London by the Irish Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Adrian O'Neill, and Brian Dalton, the head of Irish in Britain organisation.

The winners of the volunteer awards were Brian Heffernan, who volunteers with Causeway Irish Housing; Peter Hinton and Owen Hagan, who are both trustees of Irish Community Care in Merseyside; and the Care in the Community Group project volunteers with Irish Network Stevenage.

The awards recognise “outstanding volunteers in the Irish community in Britain and showcase the phenomenal work that volunteers do in our community,” Mr Dalton said.


He said that Irish in Britain were proud to host the first annual volunteer awards, which “showcased the selfless work of volunteers who support our community.”

Irish in Britain was established in 1973 and was intended to create a single national body “to share expertise, to represent, to campaign for and support the growth and well-being” of the Irish in Britain.

Outstanding individual volunteer
Brian Heffernan, Causeway Irish Housing
Heffernan volunteers with TREE, a social enterprise he helped to create with Causeway Irish Housing. He sources raw and recycled materials to upcycle into furniture, which is then donated or sold cheaply within the Irish community.

He has led workshops and classes on furniture restoration and has helped to renovate a disused garage into a creative hub where participants can drop in and work on their furniture.

Outstanding group of volunteers
Care in the Community, Irish Network Stevenage
The Care in the Community group provide a visitation service for vulnerable and housebound members of their community. Volunteers check up on community members and encourage them to attend social activities and interact with others. The group offers respite relief for carers and liaises with family members who maybe do not live close by.

Care in the Community project volunteers with the Irish Network Stevenage who won the outstanding group of volunteers award

Outstanding trustee
Peter Hinton and Owen Hagan, Irish Community Care Merseyside
As trustees and members of the executive, Hinton and Hagan have provided financial leadership. They provide risk analysis and financial direction and have led a restructuring and of the organisation which is intended to expand its programmes.

Outstanding trustees Peter Hinton and Owen Hagan of Irish Community Care Merseyside (centre) with nominator Liam Walsh (left) and Irish in Britain CEO Brian Dalton