Helpline for older Irish in NYC

 

A helpline has been set up for forgotten elderly Irish emigrants living in New York.

The service, modelled on a similar initiative in Co Meath, will help older expatriates struggling with loneliness, depression or isolation.

Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin, who launched the free helpline during his visit to the US, said it was vital for the city’s Irish community to have a focal point.

“For our community in New York it is often the local Irish Centre,” he said. “However, there are many who do not live near a centre and find it difficult to travel. We cannot allow those members of our community to live in isolation or to disappear.”

The helpline will be staffed by 50 elderly volunteers in Irish centres in the Bronx and Manhattan.

It is based on a Seniors Helpline which was set up in Summerhill, Co Meath, in 1998.

The service is supported by the Government, the City of New York and Irish Centres in the city.

Meeting the volunteers who will man the lines, Minister Martin said: “The people you are reaching out to have in the past, like yourselves, supported families at home sending money in the post to those who remained behind.

“As a government we fully recognise that contribution and how it helped shape the Ireland of today.”