Luton Irish Forum (LIF) is celebrating after receiving a grant from the Big Lottery Fund to deliver a new project that will reduce social isolation and improve the wellbeing of older Irish people in the community.

There are over 3,000 older Irish people living in Luton, Dunstable and Houghton Regis, of which one in five live alone. The number of older people is predicted to increase by 40% over the next 20 years [General Lifestyle Survey 2011, Office for National Statistics, 2013].  In Luton, one in 10 older people are Irish and many are unable to meet their basic needs and as a consequence have poor quality of life. Thanks to National Lottery funding, a new Welfare Officer will respond to the increase in welfare service enquiries and help people to access the support they need.

This new project will also provide social clubs, classes, and outings to bring people together to learn new skills and improve their physical and mental health e.g. computer classes, the Literary Society, Tea and Chat and our Tuesday & Wednesday Clubs, trips to the beach and to other Irish centres.

One beneficiary remarked “I have got computer skills and knowledge of different events going on in and around Luton in the Irish community” and another “I go to bingo on Tuesdays and enjoy the company.”

Working alongside health and social care services, LIF have supported more than 500 people in the past year to overcome social and welfare issue. This funding aims to support a further 500 isolated older people. Whilst they promote independence, LIF also encourage older people to access the full services available to them.

Tom Scanlon, Chair of Luton Irish Forum said “this National Lottery grant will make a substantial difference to some of our most disadvantaged, often lonely members of society. We are very grateful to the Big Lottery Fund for recognising the impact of this vital support.”


Luton Irish Forum Welfare Team pictured at Kathleen Connolly House. Pic by Keiron Hillhouse, Bedfordshire on Sunday

Luton Irish Forum cultural event

For further information

Luton Irish Forum contact: Noelette Hanley (Chief Officer), on 01582 720 447 / 07934 442 861

For further information on the services of Luton Irish Forum, please visit our website at


  • LIF is a registered charity and limited company formed in 1997 with a fully accessible centre close to Luton Town centre. LIF currently has a board of 10 trustees, 11 staff (3-part time), 65 volunteers and 500 members. Whilst originally set up to safeguard the needs of the Irish residents in Luton, LIF is now a truly representative community organisation serving Luton’s diverse vulnerable and socially excluded people.
  • The Big Lottery Fund is the largest funder of community activity in the UK. It puts people in the lead to improve their lives and communities, often through small, local projects.
  • It is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by National Lottery players for good causes. Last year it awarded £583 million and supported around 12,000 projects across the UK for health, education, environment and charitable purposes.
  • Since June 2004 it has awarded over £8 billion to projects that change the lives of millions of people.
Press release – Luton Irish Forum to reduce loneliness in old age thanks to £376,995 of National Lottery funding