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Please support the Children’s Grief Centre fundraising event on December 3

Pictured: Sr Helen Culhane, founder of the Childrens Grief Project holding her Limerick Person of The Month award and Katrina Morgan, a member of the Childrens Grief Centre Fundraising Committee, holding the centre’s 2014 Pride of Ireland Award. The Children’s Grief Centre fundraising event will take place on December 3. photo: Katie Glavin/ilovelimerick

Please support the Children’s Grief Centre fundraising event on December 3

By ilovelimerick correspondent Frances Watkins

The Clarecastle-Ballyea youth choir will be performing at Clarecastle Church on Sunday 3rd December at 7:30 pm at the Children’s Grief Centre fundraising event.

At the Children’s Grief Centre fundraising event there will also be set dancers and Irish dancers along with a Duchas traditional group. You can contact [email protected] for tickets.

The Children’s Grief Centre, located in Limerick, is a free and voluntary organisation that supports children between the ages of 4 and 18 where parents have separated, divorced or where there has been a bereavement. At the children’s grief centre, the children and young people are the core focus while also supporting the parents and taking the children through the process of grieving and dealing with their emotions in a positive way.

In 2007 while working with the Mercy Sisters, Sr Helen Culhane, who was announced the 2017 February Limerick Person of the Month, recognised that Limerick had the highest rates of marriage separation in Ireland, with little or no support services for children dealing with grief in its many forms. Sr Helen gathered a group of professionals including a school principal, a family therapist and a GP, who met and were in discussions for over a year regarding setting up the Children’s Grief Centre. After these meetings, Sr Helen applied for a leave of absence from her position at Milford Hospice to continue her work and open the Children’s Grief Centre with the help of the Mercy Sisters.

Pictured: Clarecastle-Ballyea youth choir.

The Children’s Grief Centre is a non-government funded, free service and provides support to those who could not seek it otherwise. While the Children’s Grief Centre is running on a voluntary basis, they do require volunteers to have some form of training to be able to help and treat the children and young people availing of the service. Sr Helen spoke about the services offered through the volunteer-run centre, the work they do, and why it is so essential to the community, saying “Trauma stores in a young person’s body, children are like sponges and adults can forget that. The centre works through empowering people and getting parents to communicate with their children. We just want to help people through the process in the best way possible”.

The Children’s Grief Centre offers a free service that includes an average of 5 sessions. Initially, a parent or guardian will contact the grief centre and a 1 on 1 meeting with the child will be arranged with parental consent. This confidential service offers the child a safe setting where the child can express their emotions through workbooks. Most importantly the Children’s Grief Centre offers an open ear to children and young people. Sr Helen spoke about the children and young people availing of the service, she mentioned that “the one reoccurring theme is that they are looking for someone to listen.”

The Children’s Grief Project’s main focus is offering support. With this motivation in mind, Sr Helen has been consulting with a number of schools such as St Munchin’s College in Corbally. Sr Helen has helped a lot of teachers to understand how they can best offer support to students who are struggling with bereavement or separation.

While the Children’s Grief Centre do receive a sum of €4,100 from Tulsa, the organisation is primarily donation funded. The centre recently set up a fundraising committee in efforts to raise the vitally needed funds to keep the centre running, to reduce the waiting list and to provide as immediate a service as possible. Katrina Morgan, a member of the fundraising committee said, “While we are conscious of people’s financial difficulties and do not want people to be under pressure, no donation is too small, and every donation is welcome and greatly appreciated”.

All those working with the children are qualified counselors and therapists who do amazing voluntary work and thankfully due to recent generous donations the centre has been able to use some of this funding towards extra counseling sessions and reduce the waiting list a little. The service is so busy with calls coming in daily, so the Children’s Grief Centre fundraising event will be beneficial and allow the valuable and necessary support to continue.

The fundraiser takes place on Sunday, 3rd December at Clarecastle Church at 7:30 pm. You can contact [email protected] for tickets.

For more stories on the Children’s Grief Centre click here

For more information on the Children’s Grief Centre click here

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 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.