About Us

About the Aisling Return To Ireland Project

The aims of the Aisling Project are:

  • Reaching out to Irish people who are vulnerable, isolated and alone.
  • Providing supported holidays in Ireland for long-term emigrants, fulfilling what is for many a dream of seeing their homeland again.
  • Helping long-term emigrants reconnect with their families and friends.
  • Helping long-term emigrants resettle in Ireland.
  • Offering a friendly supportive service in an environment that encourages self-worth and personal development.
  • Building trust in order to develop future support and continuing friendship.

Aisling - The Beginning

You can read about the success of the Aisling project in our 'Trips' section.

The Aisling Return to Ireland project was begun by workers in the London Irish Centre and Arlington house, the biggest homeless hostel in Europe which has been home to more Irish men than any other building outside Ireland. In 2006 Arlington celebrates its centenary with a complete refurbishment which will provide the remaining 150 tenants with first class accommodation.
The numbers in the hostel today contrast with the 1,200 who lived there in the first 80 years and the 400 in the last 20 years. It is the end of the hostel as a mass provider of temporary accommodation but will be the first time many of these men have had a home of their own.

The hostel, originally run by Rowton enterprises, was taken over under compulsory purchase by Camden council in the mid eighties and is now managed by Novas-Ouvertures, one of the biggest providers of services to homeless people in the UK with associated projects in Ireland.(www.novas.org ) See also archive on this site.

The London Irish Centre recently celebrated their 50th anniversary of providing a service to the Irish community in London and it is the premier Irish welfare agency in Britain. Aisling works closely with the welfare advice, elders and outreach services in the centre. (www.irishcentre.org)

Aisling has expanded its activities over the last 12 years to include organisations and centres right across London, to ensure that they make contact with as many Irish people as possible in need of their services.

Aisling organises Four Return-to-Ireland trips each year:

  • Summer - For twelve years we have been organising trips to Ireland for 25 returning emigrants with 5/6 support workers. Each year we go to a different county. Reports on all our trips can be found in this site's trips section.
  • Spring - In May we go to Killybegs in Donegal as guests of Denis and Valerie Morton, who have offered Aisling a free let on their two holiday cottages in Killybegs each spring for the last four years. Sadly, Denis has recently passed away, but Valerie continues to support Aisling and we bring 8 returnees from the Donegal area there every year with two support workers. The cottages are at Fintra just outside of the town on a hillside overlooking Donegal bay and the amazing view takes in the Sligo, Leitrim [and, on a good day even Mayo] coastline. (www.cottageguide.co.uk/clougheycottage).
  • Christmas - Christmas is always a difficult time for emigrants as it is so much associated with family in Christian countries. Each year we go to Mulranny in Mayo with 16 returnees and 4 support workers for a week before Christmas. Mulranny is home to the Safe-Home programme, which is the national repatriation scheme in Ireland finding sheltered accommodation all over Ireland for returning emigrants.
    Aisling works closely with Safe-Home and its chair Dr. Jerry Cowley TD. Mulranny is a home from home for us. (www.safehomeireland.com/).
  • St. Patrick's Day - This is also an emotional time for emigrants, when the Irish diaspora celebrates its culture throughout the world. For the last few years we have been going to Blessington in Co. Wicklow with 16 returnees and four support workers to stay at Lakeshore Holiday village. The close proximity to Dublin gives Aisling clients a chance to see the magnificent parade and to take part in the national day of celebration. (www.wicklow.ie/accommodation/self-catering).

Friends and supporters

Ardal O'Hanlon, patron of the Aisling ProjectWith the help of our many friends and supporters Aisling continues to expand and grow. Our patron is popular comedian Ardal O’Hanlon, who organises an annual fundraising comedy concert for Aisling in a central London venue featuring top Irish comedians including Tommy Tiernan, Dylan Moran, Dara O’Brien, Graham Norton, Ed Byrne and many others. Other fundraising events during the year include the Still Here in Camden Festival at the London Irish Centre every summer. You’ll find details of upcoming benefits in the news section.

All of our printing costs are donated free by our friends at KTP printers.

Volunteers

Aisling is managed by an independent, voluntary management committee made up of concerned and experienced individuals, who come to Aisling from all walks of life and experiences, including the homeless sector, the health service, marketing and finance, etc.

Aisling is always looking for committed and skilled volunteers to come on trips to Ireland and also to help with activities in London. People with skills and experience of working in the areas of homelessness, alcohol dependency, healthcare, driving, (especially driving) are more than welcome. If you think you could give some of your time to help Irish emigrants improve their lives please contact Aisling by email, by phone, or write to our address.

Aisling Return To Ireland Project
93b Agar Grove
London
NW1 9UL

Telephone: 0207 485 7030


Funding

Our outreach worker and coordinators salaries are funded by the Irish Government's Emigrant Support programme.
All of our other costs including the four return to Ireland holidays are paid for by donations from supporters of Aisling. We receive regular donations from organisations like the Lighthouse Fund (Dublin branch), Newbridge Credit Union, The Irish Pharmaceutical Association; staff associations including RTE Staff Benevolent Fund, Morgan Stanley Irish Staff Group and hundreds of regular donors who make large or small donations by cheque (payable to: Aisling Project), or by Direct Debit. Less than 10% of our income goes on administration.

You can donate directly to Aisling by Paypal





You can also continue to support the innovative work of the Aisling Project on an ongoing basis by giving as little as £3 per month. Just download our direct debit form, which you can then print and complete offline (shouldn’t take you more than two minutes) then send it straight back to Aisling.

Your contribution could make a huge difference to the lives of some very disadvantaged people. And of course you can give more than £3 if you want to.

This site also contains archive material from Arlington House Irish Tenants Association.

If you would like to keep updated on the latest news about the Aisling Project please join our mailing list. Just email us or contact us at our office.