Saving the Haringey Irish Cultural and Community Centre

Popular community venue has gone into liquidation

By Luchia Robinson

The Haringey Irish Cultural and Community Centre (HICC) in Pretoria Road, N17 has gone into liquidation, and an online petition has begun to try and save it.

The petition, which seeks 5,000 signatories to help secure the centre’s future, was started by local resident, Tamzin Clifford who is calling for critical help from local people and the Irish government. She said: “Please support us in saving [the community centre] as it will impact us greatly, as we will lose many people and connections without this building to reunite us all.”

Advice and support services were available at the centre, as well as a day care and lunch club which were part funded by the Irish government’s Emigrant Support Programme (ESP) grant.

Other sources of income included monies gained on Spurs match days from bar sales and car parking charges. These particular activities, however, have not been possible during lockdown as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and the HICC has now gone into voluntary liquidation because of a significant loss of income streams.

Since it was established in 1987, the cultural centre has been a space for local Irish residents and other members of the community to engage and partake in many clubs and activities.

Emily Lewis, gave her reason for signing the petition, stating: “I’m signing because I have lupus and I am a member/co-chair of the Enfield Lupus Support Group. We hold our monthly meetings in the centre and we also hold our fundraising events there.

“It is local for many of our members which enables them to attend without having to travel too much of a distance. We are a small charity and the centre provides us with a space at very competitive prices, which helps us financially. Closing the centre would definitely impede on our charity and have a damaging effect.”

Upon hearing the news of the closure, a spokesperson from the charity and national membership network, Irish in Britain said: “We are saddened to hear that our member organisation Haringey Irish Cultural and Community Centre, has made the decision to initiate liquidation.

“As a membership body, Irish in Britain has worked closely with the HICC Board of Trustees to support the organisation and to explore sustainability options in what is a very challenging operating environment.

“Following this decision by HICC Trustees, our priority is to ensure that the needs of the Haringey Irish community are met.

“In the coming weeks, we will be liaising with community members and stakeholders. We will also be happy to support discussions with Haringey Council that enable a positive future for this important community asset.”

Haringey Council has said it is committed to exploring different options to maintain the services that were delivered at the Irish Centre and to supporting the other tenants in the building.

Cllr Mark Blake, Cabinet Member for Communities and Equalities, said: “Sadly, the Haringey Irish Centre has gone into liquidation, and we fully appreciate the distress the closure has caused to the staff who worked at the centre and the residents who relied on it for support.

“Work was undertaken to explore a merger with other organisations, this was, however, unsuccessful owing to current circumstances.

“We recognise the significant impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on our local community infrastructure, which can be reliant on income from activities which have not been possible during lockdown and which appears to be the case here.

“The council had no representatives on the trustee board. However, since being informed of the liquidation we are seeking to support residents who have been receiving support, information and advice from the centre and to keep the other tenants in the building, to ensure that residents continue to have access to the services that they need.”

Petition details can be found here

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