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Bedford Row Family Support Project celebrates 25 years as a beacon of hope to Limerick families

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Bedford Row Family Support Project celebrates 25 years as a beacon of hope to Limerick families – pictured above Larry Decleir, Sarah Hume, Lynn Ruane, Project Leader Alison Cleary,  Stacy Ryan and Tommy Barrett. Picture: Olena Oleksienko/ilovelimerick

Bedford Row Family Support Project has been offering a lifeline to families grappling with the dual challenges of imprisonment and addiction in Limerick City for 25 years

Bedford Row Family Support Project celebrates 25 years as a beacon of hope to Limerick families. Picture: Olena Oleksienko/ilovelimerick

For a quarter of a century, Bedford Row Family Support Project has played an important role in Limerick’s society through its crucial service.

The Bedford Row Family Project supports families of prisoners, both when they are in and out of prison and have had significant success in turning around the lives of people who are involved with crime and drugs, many of whom have struggled most of their lives.

They work with all generations, from new-born babies to the elderly to try and break the cycle of involvement in crime. They work heavily with children and teenagers who are at risk of dropping out of school and encourage the senior generation to act as a fount of wisdom and experience within their family.


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They have specialized social workers and therapists to provide support for both men and women, along with a kids club for children from families who are or have been in prison.

Founded in 1999, the Limerick City based charity organisation has supported families through many challenges, and with local support they can continue to help families in need for many more to come.

The organisation was founded by the Sisters of Mercy and the Franciscan Friars, and have been funded by the Mercy Sisters ever since. The Irish Prison Service came on board with funding in 2002, along with the Limerick City and County Council in 2009.

Alison Cleary, a Project Leader at the project, reflected on the significance of their work, and how the project is “ingrained into the fabric of the city and the regeneration areas within Limerick”.

She told I Love Limerick, “We’re very proud of all the people who have changed the direction of their lives around and left addiction in the past and went on to work in other fields such as addiction services themselves. It’s great to see the people come back and see them giving back to their own communities as well.”

Bedford Row Family Support Project is celebrating 25 years of being a beacon of hope to families in Limerick
Stacey Ryan, Support worker, Richard Lynch of I Love Limerick, and Alison Cleary, Project Lead pictured at the 25-year celebration. Picture: Olena Oleksienko/ilovelimerick

Bedford Row Family Support Project offers a diverse range of services from drop-ins for those experiencing homelessness, to one-to-one counselling, child therapy, play therapy, art classes, and literacy courses among many others.

Stacey Ryan, a volunteer turned support worker, highlighted the difference the project makes, saying, “I find it great, to be honest, because for me, it’s like giving back to the community. Help is needed, and it is here, and they actually feel it when they come here, it’s actually great service.”

When asked about the support people can give to the service, Alison said, “Our funding is a bit vulnerable at the minute, when your local councillor or candidate for the elections coming up, when they knock on your door, please ask them about Bedford Row and ask them to support us and to make sure ‘long live Bedford Row’.

“That’s our hashtag for today and we want to keep the door going for at least another 25 years. Get talking about Bedford Row,” Alison concluded.

Bedford Family Row Project
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Pictures: Olena Oleksienko/ilovelimerick

Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the ilovelimerick.com concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.