On 6th August we announced the first grants from our Reaching Out Supporting Families programme. Three projects received grants totalling over £2 Million to help families facing issues such as such as separation, absence of a key family member, poverty, disability, homelessness and abuse.
One of these projects, Cruse Bereavement Care, has been awarded £676,384 for the Families Learning Together project, which it will run in partnership with the Corrymeela Community. The five-year project will offer an intensive package of support for families across Northern Ireland who have suffered or are facing bereavement.
Cruse project manager Elaine Roub said “There are so many young people and their carers suffering in silence. Once Families Learning Together begins in October, we want to reach out to them and offer them the care and support they need to cope with the bereavement and become stronger as a result.”
Gareth Murphy (41) understands only too well the devastating impact that bereavement has on a family. The Belfast businessman’s wife Linda died suddenly of a brain haemorrhage more than four years ago, leaving him and his two sons Jordan (14) and Nathan (11) struggling to cope. She was just 41.
“When Linda passed the shock was horrendous but I remember looking at myself in the mirror and telling myself I had to be strong if I was going to be able to look after the boys. In a way I could rationalise what happened, but the boys couldn’t – they were just eight and 10. It was traumatic, but as an adult I could sort of deal with it – watching your kids in that sort of pain is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.” Gareth said.
Although the family did receive some counselling, Gareth said the structured group support offered by the Families Learning Together project would have been so valuable. “It would have been good if they could have seen other people their age at different stages of bereavement and mourning so they could understand that they could come through this and they are not alone,” he said.
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On 14th August we awarded a further £895,132 to 108 groups across Northern Ireland, through Awards for All. One of these groups is Brain Injury Matters, which received £10,000 for a project that will offer counselling support to people affected by brain injury in Belfast. Relatives will also receive counselling to help them cope better.
The project will help people like Julie Wilson from Co Antrim, who suffered a devastating brain haemorrhage in 2011. In the challenging months that followed she tried to return to her old job in senior management with a major outsourcing company – but it wasn’t working.
“Every brain injury is different and mine had left me with cognitive impairment and extreme fatigue. I come across as the same person but I am not. When I went back to work I couldn’t cope – on a bad day I couldn’t even work a photocopier.” Julie said.
“Brain Injury Matters have helped me get back into work, though it’s a struggle, and back into my own house, which was a huge step. Without them I don’t know where I’d have ended up – I don’t even want to think about it. I am also lucky to have supportive family, friends and colleagues.”
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