Stevenage’s Irish Network ‘hopeful’ for future as social events return

INS chair Luke Donovan with the charity's donations to Lister Hospital. Picture: INS

INS chair Luke Donovan with the charity's donations to Lister Hospital. Picture: INS - Credit: Archant

The Irish Network in Stevenage has thanked its “amazing volunteers” as the charity looks ahead to its post-COVID future.

INS chair Luke Donovan said he feels “hopeful” that things are “getting better” as classes and activities have begun to restart since lockdown.

Irish Network Stevenage is a charity which provides social events each week – including craft groups, flower arranging, film club and social afternoons – designed to cater to vulnerable older people including carers and housebound members.

Luke said: “When lockdown started back in March, I was the first one to say ‘it will only be for a short time, we’ll be back together before you know it’ – how wrong I was! Like many of our members I miss spending time with my family and friends, and I’ve missed hugs from my grandchildren.

“But as we look at where we are now compared to a few weeks ago, I feel hopeful and I can see things are getting better.

“We have started our exercise classes and bingo sessions again and even though they are smaller so we can maintain social distancing, they have brought so much joy to people.”

INS are planning on increasing exercise classes to twice a week and are continuing two weekly bingo sessions – but sadly other social events will need longer before they can return.

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Luke added: “To be able to reconnect with each other and spend some time in each other’s company has really lifted our spirits. To hear our members laughing and enjoying meeting up with friends again makes all the hard work worthwhile.

“The feedback from our members has been fantastic, so we will keep moving forward. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our amazing volunteers, they have provided so much support to our members, through phone calls, emotional and practical support – such as arranging for shopping to be delivered and bills to be paid.

“Since lockdown started, we have made over 3,000 phone calls to members and we know how much this is appreciated – so a big thanks to all our volunteers.

“As always, our priority is our members, so if there is anything we can do to help you though these difficult times, all you need to do is ring, we are here to help.”

For more information on the Irish Network, visit