History

Irish Welfare and Information Centre (IWIC) was founded in June 1957. Migration from Ireland was at a high rate during the 40's and 50's. People were arriving in Birmingham with little money and no accommodation or employment. There was no welfare services established at this time and so the parish priests at St. Anne's along with many valuable volunteers decided there was a need to provide help and so the first seedlings of a "Welfare" service were sown.

Its original site was a single room in Moat Row with only a small number of volunteers offering help and support to Irish immigrants. Though the provision of housing was high on the agenda of needs, the service had to begin by providing clothing and befriending to the needy along with as much financial support as possible. The need to tackle the chronic accommodation did not abate, and out of a Catholic Priest's concern (Fr Joe Taaffe) for the homeless and those living in inadequate accommodation, the Catholic Housing Aid Society and Family Housing Association in Birmingham was developed.

In 1974 a new premises was required. The Director felt that the next premises should serve both as offices and as a hostel for young men coming from Ireland to find work. The Organisation moved from Moat Row into Plunkett House, Shadwell Street, and the cost of the new premises being met by the Irish Episcopal Commission for Emigrants. One of the facilities set up during the 1993 was the Drop in Centre. This provided those who were less fortunate with a hot meal during the day and clothing if required. Due to the ongoing growth of the team, IWIC moved to St. Anne's Parish Centre in January 2008.

In 2009 IWIC developed a collaborative partnership with Birmingham Irish Community Forum (BICF). The Forum was set up in 1993 to help the Irish community in Birmingham to deal with economic, social, cultural and educational issues. During 2010 the boards of IWIC and BICF decided, after consultation with the community and members, to merge. This decision recognized the strength of the 2 leading Irish organisations in the city working as one entity, bringing financial and operational advantages to the delivery of services to the community.

In October 2011, following extensive consultation, the organisation was renamed Irish in Birmingham. Services were reshaped to better meet the needs of service users and new service developments were introduced. The impact of this re –branding was assessed in 2014 when it was felt that the image the organisation was trying to portray was still not hitting the mark. A further update of the name and branding took place and resulted in the organisation adopting the name Birmingham Irish Association.

The organisation now sits proudly as the focal point for the Irish community in Birmingham and will be celebrating 60 years in the city in 2017.