Update #5 - Chair of Trustees
Update #5 - From the Chair of Trustees
The London Irish Centre charity (8th February 2016)
Dear All – a belated Happy New Year and welcome to our fifth update from the Board of Trustees of The London Irish Centre charity. I’m delighted to provide a brief report from our most recent Board of Trustees meeting together with a summary of other interesting developments at the LIC.
Board meeting 25th January 2016 – 6.30 pm
Following our new CEO Ian McLintock’s appointment, Sean Kennedy stepped down as interim CEO. Dermot Murphy had been acting as Interim Chair and Sean has reverted to the role. The board paid thanks to Dermot for taking on the additional responsibility as well as wishing Ian great success in his new role. Trustees present were Sean Kennedy, Dermot Murphy, Mary Hickman, Ian McKim, Evan Long, together with CEO Ian McLintock. Apologies were received from Bernadette Sexton, Lindsey Drea and Kiaran Ryan
CEO: There is increasing focus on improving efficiency and effectiveness which is the cornerstone of our current strategic plan, work is ongoing on this. There are close to a hundred individual line items in the strategic plan and work is accelerating to ensure as many as possible for completion by 31 March. CEO is working with our conference/catering and bar operator to analyse the current service level agreement. A significant amount of work has been carried out on this in collaboration with Off to Work.
Arts and Culture: Gary Dunne`s report was received by the board. Following Alison Gorman’s departure in September a new member of staff Hannah Pender joined the LIC in the Arts and culture department in December. Alison was a valued member of staff and we wish her the very best in the future. Hannah is already proving her worth in a new role and the board hope she will enjoy your time with the LIC. The library project has been a very large undertaking but is on track for an April opening which should be an exciting moment for the charity. The arts office has now been relocated from the Kennedy Hall to the main building in anticipation of increasing the use of the Kennedy hall as a community hub. Gary reported on the multitude of events which were managed, hosted and facilitated by his department over the last quarter.
Hannah Pender Events Officer
Mary Hickman, Chair of the Arts Committee confirmed this is proving an excellent resource and backup to the Department. The committee reported the programme was moving in the right direction, gradually expanding with feedback from individual events.
Our wonderful team of volunteers begin stocking our new London Irish Library.
Welfare: Director of Welfare, Aoife Walshe confirmed Jim Fearnley as the new Advice & Outreach Manager. He is an extremely experienced advice and welfare manager and his support for the welfare team will strengthen considerably our welfare work. He takes up his post on Monday 25th January. The board offers its congratulations and best wishes to Jim. Our part-time Befriending Officer Christine O’Meara left the LIC in October and is still involved at the LIC with another welfare support organisation.
Jim Fearnley, Advice & Outreach Manager
Aoife reported on our improvements to our database and information management systems with the further roll-out of the Lamplight software. This is being rolled out on a project-by -project basis with volunteering and befriending coming on stream in February. Additionally she reported on the Department’s efforts to increase the visibility and marketing for the Department, this is already proving effective. She updated the board on the number of volunteering roles which is currently standing at 35, an increase of six. The new roles will increase the range and effectiveness of volunteering in areas such as fundraising, PR and communications, social and digital media and, for the day centre, nail painting, beauty therapy and aromatherapy, photographer, maintenance person. Staff training is scheduled to take place in February in a number of areas and the board were given details of strategic partnership meetings with different support agencies and partners (both current and potential).
Pensioners Christmas Dinner – A huge success this year as Dane Buckley our Day Services Manager reports: Thank you everyone for what was a great event. And a great team effort. The food was perfect as was the service. The music was spot on and the raffle, and interaction between people was exactly what we're about. All said they would be back again next year. It ran so smoothly and all staff were hands on. From those who tour the dance halls right through to those on day release from hospices and cancer units, we had every type of Irish person and every type of need. For many it was a really emotional experience as we are their main social contact/family in this season.
Sarah Goodall, our volunteer manager provided the board with details of a recent volunteering survey. Key points from the survey were as follows – more than 95% of past and current volunteers strongly agree that having an Irish specific service is important and that volunteering for an Irish specific organisation is important to them. Approximately 90% of volunteers agree that volunteering has been a positive experience for them. While 70% of volunteers believe the LIC has given more than what they expected, a further 20% agree that the LIC has matched their expectations. Participants indicated that they have personally gained at least three benefits from volunteering at the LIC though 25% offered that they did not know if they’d made any impact on the LIC and its clients through volunteering. 90% said they would recommend volunteering at the LIC to others.
Dermot Murphy, Chair of the welfare committee, reported that the committee is operating effectively being both supportive and challenging to the Department. It has recommended that future reporting should be split into individual project reporting.
Fundraising: Ian was congratulated on planning and launching our Christmas appeal in a very short timeframe. The appeal raised £6500 pounds for our essential welfare work, more than double what we raised last year (and a huge thanks to everyone who contributed). Income generation (including fundraising) is a key part of our strategic plan. Ian updated on the work going on here with the new core case now being drafted, and a huge amount of background work being completed with two new funding application bids prepared for submission in February. As part of our volunteer role increase two new volunteers are now helping out with the fundraising work.
Big Night Out charity fundraiser: The board were very pleased to hear that the event has been sold out, eight weeks in advance. The event is being supported by many major businesses. The board noted the immense contribution of the two volunteers on the committee, Josie McGeady and Jim Quinn (former trustee/treasurer).
Finance: Ian is carrying out a number of tweaks to the finance function operation systems and reporting. Our cash in hand is currently reasonable but as with last year we will have to monitor very carefully cash reserves in the critical period June to August, when our new grant income comes on stream. The budget is still projected to be in surplus, which is a key objective for the board. Rationalisation and improvements in our income generation have been instrumental in this turnaround from last year’s large deficit. However due to the extremely large cuts to our grant funded income creating a surplus while maintaining adequate service level is extremely challenging and the board do not expect this position to be any less challenging next year.
Governance: Dermot Murphy offered a paper on confirming the expectations around trustee commitment, which were approved and he is simultaneously working on a new policy for committees.
Chair: David Perkins has resigned from the board due to personal commitments. A vote of thanks was given in recognition of his years of service and how much he contributed at committee and board level. The new LIC charity was created in April 2013 with three-year terms of office for the trustees, this means that there will be changes to the board membership over this coming year. The chair was asked to update our skills audit in anticipation.
The chair noted his meetings held with the Lord Mayor of Dublin; OTW; CEO; LIBS` Shane Kelly as well as his attendance on the BNO and Building/Premises committees. In late December we received a certificate of commendation from the Lord Mayor in recognition of our contribution to caring for the most vulnerable.
The Lord Mayor of Dublin and Sean Kennedy, Chair
As part of the Building and Premises Committee, Sean reported that some progress had been made with the potential garage development. The board approved an investment in a planning consultant who will be negotiating a new lease on this site with Network Rail. We anticipate it will be 12 to 18 months before the site is ready for a new planning permission application. A new member of the committee has been appointed and was noted by the board, Mark Fitzpatrick. The committee authorised funds for flat roof repairs, upgrades to the electrics for certification purposes, new carpeting to the third floor and the IEAN offices as well as a new kitchen to the new third floor suite. Repairs and maintenance was carried out to the chaplaincy offices as well as central heating and plumbing upgrades. We are currently working on a range of new projects, including plans to develop the Kennedy Hall and a possible museum of the Irish in London.
Heads of Terms have been agreed for the rental of our third-floor office suite to a new tenant. We created a new area for letting in January, part of which involves the provision of a new kitchen area as well as refurbishment. If this tenancy is completed it will bring our full year rental income to a gross of £310,000 per annum, an increase of 340% since 2010. This rental income is a key part of our funding mix and directly subsidises many of our welfare services which are chronically underfunded.
Interim Strategic Plan: this is been commented on earlier and has recently been audited with a view to appraising which elements should have the greatest focus for the rest of this year.
Risk Management: an updated risk management plan was discussed and adopted by the board.
Community Consultation: this is a key part of the pre-work for the next strategic plan. Mary Hickman and Dermot Murphy are leading on this. An electronic survey has received over 500 returns, including paper submissions from those not online, which is very satisfactory. A qualitative survey of up to 30 key stakeholders is being carried out by Mary. We are hoping to have a draft report early March.
Future Strategic Plan: the SMT has completed a strategic analysis of stakeholders, PEST, SWOT and marketing overview. It was noted that delivering major strategic change would require capacity, capabilities and resources not currently available. Consequently, a key theme in 2016, would be building on the current plan to develop these.
The meeting closed at 9:35 PM, and our next meeting is on 7 March, followed by 9 May, 12th of September and 14th of November. Committee meetings will take place in addition to these board meetings.
PATRON OF THE LONDON IRISH CENTRE
The charity were delighted our members overwhelmingly confirmed the appointment of Dermot O’Leary as our new patron on 16 December 2015. All at the LIC are looking forward to working closely with Dermot. He will be attending our Big Night Out event on the 4th March.
HONORARY LIFE MEMBER
At our November AGM the charity were very pleased to confer Honorary Life Membership on Mrs Margaret Brown of Sandycove in County Dublin. Her full citation is below. Margaret will be our guest at the BNO in March.
Margaret is famous for hosting Xmas dinners from those less fortunate and she reports on this year`s event `The Christmas Day Lunch was extremely busy this year , we catered for over 200 guests at the Blackrock College Rugby Club , and we delivered an additional 17 Traditional Christmas Dinners to the Travellers at their site in Ballyogan ( who lost 10 of their family including 5 children) to a fire at their site in Carrickmines, South Co Dublin a very short time ago, and we also delivered and gave hot meals to 15 Travellers on the West Pier, Dun Laoghair, plus 35 Christmas Dinners to Bentley House Crosscare Homeless Hostel at the end of York Road`.
Margaret Brown Honorary Life Member
If you have any questions please do contact me.
Chair of the Board of Trustees
Hailing from Mullinalaghta Co. Longford and now residing in Sandycove, Co Dublin, Margaret Brown worked abroad for a significant part of her working life including a period in London.
She is well known for her many years of unstinting charitable work , from running for almost 30 years a Christmas Day Lunch for those living alone or in hard financial difficulty, through to The Tidy Towns Competition.
In 2013 Margaret’s event for “The Gathering Ireland 2013” was commended by Chamber Ireland, and was a Finalist in the 2014 Community & Council Awards for The Gathering Event of the Year.
She has run a very successful Saint Patrick's Day Irish coffee morning at the St, Joseph's Pastoral, Centre, Glasthule, to support Irish charities in the UK most notably the London Irish Centre.
She has been recognised for her efforts having been named Person of the Year in Longford.
Margaret is committed to trying to assist any and all those she sees are in need regardless of race, creed or politics.
Honorary life Membership of the London Irish Centre is awarded in recognition of your advocacy, fundraising and general support of the charity over many years.