History of the organisation
icap was founded in 1996 by Teresa Gallagher, an Irish woman from Donegal. Teresa, a psychotherapist, came to London in 1992 to carry out post-graduate work in Psychotherapy and Mental Health. Whilst in private practice, she became acutely aware of the deep wells of sadness in the lives of many people of Irish origin.
Through her personal observations and work, she could see how many Irish people and their families continued to live lives of quiet desperation, keeping their secrets, fears and troubles bottled up. Research backed this up – it had been shown that the Irish, as an ethnic group, had the worst history of mental health problems in the UK, yet this reality seemed to be ignored. Teresa decided to do something about it.
Setting up icap
Setting up icap was a struggle, but Teresa was determined to establish a therapy service which was accessible, independent, non-sectarian, non-denominational, confidential and available to all who wished to use its expertise. A lack of awareness within statutory and funding bodies initially made the acquisition of funding almost impossible. With grit and perseverance, Teresa embarked on a process of lobbying and meeting with relevant bodies. She formed a Board of Directors and gradually gained the generous support of highly-qualified psychotherapists and volunteers. Premises in London were obtained in which a welcoming place was created, where people could feel safe to off-load their feelings and troubles and begin to re-build their lives. People contributed what they could afford, be it one pound or twenty, and various contracts and partnerships began to develop.
icap grew to a point where it met all the requirements of the Charity Commission, and was finally able to become registered as a limited company with charitable status. After four years of growth, icap was officially opened by the President of Ireland, Her Excellency Mary McAleese, in 1996.
The need for icap
icap’s workload soon began to grow. Referrals flowed in, particularly from other Irish agencies. These agencies recognised the need for a service like icap. Although the agencies were adept at meeting their clients’ social and physical needs, there was no specialist provision for the mental health or psychological support of people of Irish origin in the UK. Many of their clients were unable to move forward in their lives because of unaddressed issues that continued to bedevil their lives. Teresa had recognised that many members of the Irish (and some other ethnic minority groups) were reluctant to use statutory support services, often because they did not trust them, or because they felt that these services did not cater for, or understand, their specific culture and needs. icap was designed to overcome these issues, providing culturally sensitive counselling and psychotherapy in a professional, confidential setting.
Teresa’s dream of a purpose-built psychotherapy centre was realised in 2006, when the icap’s headquarters in Finsbury Park were opened – where it is based today. Once again, the President of Ireland, Mary Mc Aleese officiated over the opening of a new stage in icap’s life.
“icap provides a welcoming haven for those who carry brokenness inside them – a quiet and dignified space for those whose heads and hearts are full of unhappy noise and thoughts.”
Her Excellency Mary Mc Aleese, President of Ireland
icap has built up a proven track record of providing culturally sensitive psychotherapy for clients from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds. icap’s successful clinical outcomes have led to icap gaining a reputation as a leading independent, not-for-profit, professional psychotherapy service. Today, as well as its head office in London, icap has a regional centre in the West Midlands and a network of psychotherapists throughout the UK. Each year, icap provides 14,000 therapy sessions nationwide, through its network of 100 therapists.
History of Irish emigration
Among the ‘hidden’ Irish using icap’s services are those people who were survivors of childhood abuse and institutional abuse and trauma. They had moved to Britain in significant numbers, and they and their families carried the scars of these traumatic experiences. The Ryan Report was commissioned by the Irish Government, and sets out the terrible abuse they suffered.
In 1998, the Irish government finally acknowledged the impact of the horrific abuse experienced by generations of children in Ireland’s austere network of industrial schools, reformatories, orphanages and hostels from the 1930s until the 1990s. The Irish government accordingly sought psychological for this group, and came to icap, which had built up its expertise in dealing with issues of trauma and abuse, especially amongst people of Irish origin. icap thus became the designated psychotherapy service in the UK in the provision of psychotherapy to people who had suffered as children in Ireland’s insititutions. icap provides a network of psychotherapists throughout the UK to meet the national demand for this work.
Many older Irish people who arrived in the UK in the 1950s and 1960s had moved from a poor country with few employment prospects, hoping to improve their situation. Some, however, didn’t do so well in Britain, and began to feel isolated and stranded here as the Irish economy boomed during the first decade of the new millennium.
The Irish came to the UK as individuals, unlike emigrants of many other countries, who came as family units. Many Irish people came to England as young adults, and now their families live within both cultures, carrying a diverse history and experience.
Irish emigration continues, as numerous younger Irish people arrive in the UK, highly educated and starting off in well paid careers. But Ireland is a country where family and local community ties are still very strong, and losing these ties, as well as adapting to a new life can lead to mental distress.
icap is here today to support all over the threshold of fear, anxiety and depression.
Ta doras icap oscailte I gconai. Failte roimh gach duine.
All are welcome.