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Cruse publishes resource for bereaved men

Cruse Bereavement Care in Northern Ireland has published a new ‘Help & Hope’ booklet to help inform and support men who have been bereaved, with funding from the Big Lottery Fund NI through the Together For You project.

There was a strong interest and attendance, including some local organisations who provide support and services for men; representing organisations such as Male Empowerment Network; St Vincent de Paul; Omagh Men's Support Group; Care for Cancer; Omagh Support & Self Help Group Aware Defeat Depression, and others. 

The event was in partnership with Omagh Support & Self Help Group, with Mr Michael Gallagher the guest speaker.

Alex McMeekin, the Cruse Together For You Manager said “we know that men may express their grief in different ways to women, and employ different strategies to help them cope.  We felt it was important to develop a support booklet specifically for men, providing helpful information, advice, and first-hand accounts from other men who have been bereaved. The booklet has been developed by men, for men.”

Michael Gallagher spoke movingly and honestly of the personal impact of his bereavement experiences.  Of the Cruse booklet Michael said “there has been a gap in recognising the difficulties men face through grief, and it is important that this book is published and available throughout the community, so that men feel that there are other men who understand their pain.  It is an excellent resource, and I am happy to recommend it to men who have been bereaved”.

Gerry McHugh, Chairperson of Omagh & Fermanagh Cruse Office also spoke about the services Cruse provide locally. Cruse Northern Ireland has been providing support, advice and information to bereaved people, including adults, children and young people since 1984. There are seven area offices located throughout Northern Ireland.

Download the booklet here.

Picture, from left to right:

Gerry McHugh: Chairperson of Cruse Omagh & Fermanagh Office, Alex McMeekin: Project Manager, Cruse Together For You Project, Michael Gallagher: Omagh Support & Self Help Group, Terry Mulholland: Co-ordinator, Cruse Together For You Project, Paul Finnegan: NI Cruse Director


Cruse Prison Support Administrative Volunteer needed

We are looking for people to volunteer in Magilligan, Maghaberry and Hydebank Wood College, as part of the Cruse Prison Support team, which provides bereavement support to people within the prison environment.

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Living Beyond Loss, A Showcase of the Beyond Words Project

Belfast Castle was the beautiful setting on Thursday, 5 May for the Living Beyond Loss event, which celebrated the Beyond Words project so far. 

Read about the day

Four Northern Ireland children lose a parent every day

One in 29 school age children in Northern Ireland have been bereaved of a parent or sibling – that’s around one in every classroom. The Childhood Bereavement Network estimates that each year in Northern Ireland 790 parents die, leaving 1,400 dependent children.

As part of Children’s Grief Awareness Week 2015 (19 to 25 November), Cruse Bereavement Care and Corrymeela Community are reaching out to parentally bereaved families through their “Get Together – Bereaved Families Discovering” partnership project, funded under Big Lottery Fund’s Supporting Families programme. 

Families cooking at a Cruse Bereavement Get Together event in Northern IrelandGet Together offers free activity days and residentials to families with children under 12 who have been bereaved of a parent. One 11-year-old participant has described Get Together as “a chance to meet new people like us, who know how we feel and what we’ve been through.  It helps you overcome your shadow.”  A parent who brought her children to a Get Together weekend at Corrymeela said, “It helped us learn to laugh again as a family.”

Family craft activity at a Cruse Bereavement Care Get Together event in Northern IrelandThe theme of this year’s Grief Awareness Week is ‘Supporting parents & carers, supporting grieving children’.  Parents and carers shouldn’t have to cope alone. Family, friends, colleagues, schools and the government all have a part to play in helping them to support their grieving children. Cruse Bereavement Care also plays a vital role within local communities by offering individual, group and family support for all ages, as well as the youth website,  Making services like this available for all grieving children, young people and parents who need them – wherever they live and however they have been bereaved – helps them realise that they are not alone.

For more information, contact Elaine Roub, Young Cruse Coordinator on 028 9079 2419.

Together For You celebrates reaching over 30,000 people

The Together For You partners were out in force on Saturday (10th October) raising awareness of ‘Dignity in Mental Health’ as part of World Mental Health Day in the Maiden City of Londonderry.  It was also an opportunity to celebrate the fact that Together For You has reached over 30,000 people across Northern Ireland with mental health services. Cruse Bereavement Care is part of the Together For You mental health and wellbeing project, funded by the Big Lottery Fund. 

Hundreds of shoppers and passers-by stopped to have a cup of tea and a natter with the team of volunteers, helped to decorate the ‘Ship called Dignity’, supported by the Community Arts Partnership, and were entertained by Face painters, dancers from Echo Echo Dance, laughter yoga from the Sunshine Project and singers from the excellent Encore Contemporary Choir.

The Deputy Mayor of Derry and Strabane Council, Alderman Thomas Kerrigan came down to support the event, and local MP Mark Durkan also popped down to see some of the activity taking place.

Encore Contemporary Choir on World Mental Health Day 2015Throughout the day, we took a short poll of passers-by.  Out of the 62 people questioned, over 43% had accessed mental health support services for themselves or a friend or relative.  Many people (over 50%) admitted to having had or still to have problems with anxiety, stress and depression. However it was fantastic to see that over 80% felt comfortable talking about their mental health, and also a similar number who said they would visit their GP or talk to a friend or relative if they were worried about their mental health. 

Photo: Encore Contemporary Choir entertains the people of Derry as part of World Mental Health Day celebrations on Saturday 10 October organised by Together For You, a project funded by the Big Lottery Fund.

Big Lottery Fund awards birthday grant to Cruse in Northern Ireland

As part of their 10th birthday celebration in Northern Ireland last year the Big Lottery Fund held a competition asking people to nominate a group that had changed their life through a project it funded. 301 people nominated 71 groups, and 19 groups were awarded extra funding, including Cruse Bereavement Care.

Cruse used the 10th Birthday award of £2,000 to train 15 volunteers to provide counselling support over the telephone. This means that people who might have difficulty travelling to a counselling session, such as people living in rural communities or those with ill-health or a disability, can now access help over the phone from their homes.

One of the volunteers, Rosemary Palmer, described the difference the training has made. She said: “I have for the past seven years only delivered support face to face and have to admit to being a bit nervous about telephone training. 

"This training has given me the confidence and enthusiasm to take on a telephone support client. I now realise through the practical element of the course that visual clues can be a distraction from the words. I now know that I can learn to listen more to the voice to know what the client is saying, rather than the visual clues that I am interpreting.

“I am enthused to be helping more clients to find a way to access our services, that may have been previously excluded, be that by access restrictions or to rural location.”

Read more and view a short film about the Beyond Words Project.

First Families Learning Together Residential Weekend

On a bright, warm July evening, six families from all over Northern Ireland arrived at Corrymeela Community’s centre overlooking Ballycastle and Rathlin Island for the first Families learning together residential weekend. 

The opening session of the first ever “Roots and Wings” family residential acknowledged both the pain and the hope that had brought us all together – the death of a beloved parent in each of the families, and the hope of finding common ground with others and creating new memories.

The 11 children and 7 parents who had the courage  to say “yes” to attending the weekend have been part of Families Learning Together (FLT), a partnership project between Cruse Bereavement Care and Corrymeela Community, supported by the Big Lottery Fund. 

Read more.

Afternoon tea at Belfast Castle

Cruse Bereavement Care in Northern Ireland invited 100 volunteers to Belfast Castle for afternoon tea on 5 June 2015, to celebrate achieving the Investing in Volunteers Quality Standard, recognising the excellent work they do with volunteers. Investing in Volunteers is the UK quality standard for all organisations involving volunteers.Investing in Volunteers aims to improve the quality of the volunteering experience for all volunteers and for organisations to acknowledge the enormous contribution made by volunteers.

Mental Health Project reaches 24,000 individuals in Northern Ireland

Since its launch in October 2013, Together For You, a partnership project funded by the Big Lottery Fund, has reached over 24,000 individuals in Northern Ireland with their mental health services.  Led by Action Mental Health (AMH), services are delivered in partnership with Cruse, Aware Defeat Depression, CAUSE,  MindWise, Nexus, PraxisCare, Relate NI and The Rainbow Project.

To celebrate this amazing achievement, and to share the learning gained from delivering the wide range of mental health services delivered across the Together For You partnership, a Shared Learning Event was held on 17th June in the Park Avenue Hotel, Belfast.

The event was opened by the Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Simon Hamilton MLA and was attended by over 120 representatives from the public, private and voluntary and community sectors.

David Babington, Spokesperson for Together For You and Chief Executive of Action Mental Health (centre), celebrates the amazing achievement of reaching over 24,000 individuals with mental health services with Minister for Health Simon Hamilton MLA and Alison Fraser, Head of Funding at the Big Lottery Fund.



Cruse launches new website for young people

Cruse Bereavement Care has launched a new website for young people. Hope Again – young people living after loss is a place where young people aged 11-18 can share their stories about loss and begin to find ways of hoping again. 

The site was developed by members of the Cruse Youth Advisory Group in Northern Ireland —young people who have all personally experienced the devastating loss of a mother, father, brother, sister or friend. The team worked with Belfast-based creative agency JourneyFor.

Bridget Molloy, Cruse Youth Web Consultant, was helped by Cruse after her mother died when she was 15. Bridget says: ‘Hope Again offers a modern, online place for young people to share their stories about loss, grief and hope, get personalised advice and support from trained young people, and read the stories of others. It will be a place for sharing, healing and learning.’

Members of HopeAgain Cruse design team with Journeyfor creative team Tim McCullough, Creative Director of Journeyfor says:  ‘Journeyfor were thrilled to be appointed to work on this project.  We began with a workshop with the young people from Cruse. The workshop gave us insights and home truths from which to start. Together we developed the name and strap line. Hope Again has been born from the creative inspiration and ideas of the young people themselves. Because of this it has a uniqueness and freshness of concept that is honest and direct.’

Debbie Kerslake, Chief Executive of Cruse says: ‘Cruse provides somewhere to turn when someone dies. This includes bereaved young people whose grief can too often be overlooked. I am delighted that Cruse is launching Hope Again. This new website puts bereaved young people in contact with others who have been bereaved and provides hope for those living after loss.’

Hope Again has been developed to replace RD4U, Cruse’s previous website designed for and by children and young people. The Santander Foundation provided £5,000 start-up costs for the project through its Community Plus programme.Hope Again staff with Santander Foundation Team


1. Members of HopeAgain Cruse design team with Journeyfor creative team (Sara Humphries (Journeyfor), Bridget Molloy (YAG), Georgia Gray (YAG) and Christine Bailie (Journeyfor)

2. Hope Again staff with Santander Foundation Team (Lorraine Dalibalta, Team Manager Belfast, TD Retail Banking; Bridget Molloy, Cruse Youth Advisory Group member; Elaine Roub, Young Cruse Coordinator, Jean Lesslie, Team Manager Belfast, TD Mortgage Division and Perry Fields, Business Manager, UKB Retail Banking).

Managing Bereavement in the Workplace guidance

New Labour Relations Agency guidance on Managing Bereavement in the Workplace was launched on Thursday 12th March at the Labour Relations Agency. 

The new guidance has been developed in collaboration with Cruse Bereavement Care and other valued partners.

Marie Mallon, Chair of the Labour Relations Agency said: “Regretfully bereavement is something experienced by most of us during our lifetime.  How this is handled in the workplace can have a profound effect on an employee and indeed on the relationship between employer and employee.  This Guide aims to assist employers to respond appropriately to the grief and practical needs of the employee that has suffered a bereavement.  We are grateful to Cruse for the opportunity to work in partnership with them in the launch of this important guidance.”

Anne Townsend, Director of Cruse in Northern Ireland said: “Cruse is delighted that the Labour Relations Agency has produced this guide which is an opportunity to improve bereavement care in the workplace. Just recently an employee told me of her experience which highlights the need for improved practice for employees. Jane returned to work 3 weeks after her husband’s sudden death and a short period of sick leave. She felt pressured to return to work and knew she couldn’t give 100% so she resigned. This guide provides clear guidance for employers and Cruse can offer training and support for employers to improve the care of employees.”

Copies of the guide are available to download here. For further information on training in Northern Ireland, email

Cruse in Northern Ireland gains UK Volunteers Award

Cruse Bereavement Care in Northern Ireland has achieved Investing in Volunteers for Employers accreditation following evaluation of current Cruse practices and benchmarking against a nationally recognised standard. Investing in Volunteers for Employers is the UK award which reflects a commitment to best practice and standards for good practice in volunteer management for organisations that promote and deliver services with volunteers.

This included months of hard work which culminated in submitting a portfolio of policies and procedures, and a visit from an assessor who met with volunteers and staff.

Anne Townsend, Director for Cruse in Northern Ireland says “We are thrilled that we have been awarded Investing in Volunteers accreditation. Cruse volunteers are vital to the delivery of the range of bereavement services we provide in Northern Ireland and each year over 450 volunteers in a variety of roles give over 37,000 hours each year to support bereaved people. This prestigious award recognises our commitment to best practice for the support and management of volunteers and I know every staff member and volunteer in Cruse is proud of this award” .

New Accessible Bereavement Support Pack

A new ‘Accessible Bereavement Resource Pack’ has been produced as part of Beyond Words, a partnership project between Cruse Bereavement Care in Northern Ireland and the Stroke Association charity, which is funded by the Big Lottery Fund’s ‘Reaching Out: Connecting Older People’ programme.

The pack provides information on the impact on older people and stroke survivors and highlights the added difficulty that people with aphasia can have when expressing their emotions and dealing with grief. It provides advice and communication tools which can be used by health and social care staff and others to support people with communication difficulties to express their feelings associated with bereavement.

Tom Richardson, Stroke Association Director for Northern Ireland said: “The pack will mean that bereaved stroke survivors with aphasia can access bereavement support when previously there may have been a communications barrier. In Northern Ireland, out of 34,000 stroke survivors, approximately 10,000 have the communications difficulty, aphasia, which can add to the confusion and trauma of bereavement. We often think about the needs of carers and families when a loved one dies of stroke but we must also be aware of the impact of bereavement on the stroke survivor when they lose their carer or loved one. Therefore, Beyond Words acts as a voice for those with aphasia through the delivery of our specifically tailored services.”

Beyond Words Manager Paul Finnegan said: “We are delighted to launch the pack. It has been the product of a lot of research and analysis from a range of people. We are really indebted to the Cruse and Stroke Development teams and the Beyond Words Advisory Group for all the work they pit into developing the pack. All our BSV’s in Northern Ireland will receive their own pack and it is also available on our website. The use of the pack can only enhance the service that our volunteers offer on a day to day basis.

For more information contact Paul Finnegan on 02890 792419 or at or Rachel Haugh on 02890 508056 or at

Second picture, from left to right:Professor Bob Stout - Chair NI Committee - Stroke Association; Colin White - Chairman, BWP Advisory Group; Carolee McLaughlin - Speech and Language Therapist, Belfast Trust; Anne Townsend - Director, Cruse Bereavement Care NI; Tom Richardson - Director, Stroke Association NI at the launch of the new guidance.

Cruse​ and Corrymeela Launch New Families Project

Cruse Bereavement Care and Corrymeela Community are delighted to announce “Famlies Learning Together”, a new partnership project for bereaved families, which has been awarded a grant of £676,384 from the Big Lottery Fund’s Supporting Families programme.

The five-year project, beginning in October 2014, will bring together bereaved families from across Northern Ireland into a caring environment where they can support each other.

Young Cruse Coordinator Elaine Roub said that each year in Northern Ireland, more than 28,000 children lose someone they love to death; and more than 9,000 school-aged children here have lost a parent or sibling. 

The Families Learning Together project will offer vital, wrap-around support to 50 families through activity days, residentials at Corrymeela in Ballycastle, ongoing individual support as needed and—importantly—the families themselves having opportunities to support other bereaved families and help educate the community.

Susan McEwen, Head of Programme at Corrymeela, stated: "Corrymeela are very excited about this project.  This for us is a natural progression of the work of Desney Cromey, a community member who several years ago established the Treetops project working with bereaved families. In fact, it was Desney who first made the connection between Corrymeela and Cruse."

Anne Townsend, Director of Cruse in Northern Ireland, commented:  “The Big Lottery Fund have supported the development of Cruse services for children and young people over the past 9 years and we very much look forward to working alongside Corrymeela Community to further expand this support.”

Families Learning Together has evolved because it is what the parents, young people and children who have come to Cruse and Corrymeela over the years have asked for—a chance to break through isolation, shed some burdens, laugh a little and communicate more with each other and with other families. 

This year, Corrymeela celebrates its 50th Anniversary and Cruse its 30th anniversary; between them they have 80 years of experience coming alongside people in the midst of bereavement, conflict and trauma.  The two organisations share a strong volunteer ethos and a common vision for strengthening families and individuals.  The Families Learning Together project will enable them to build on that vision by working, learning and serving families together.

If you are interested in volunteering with “Families Learning Together”, or if you know of a family who might like to join the project, please contact . More information is available from Cruse at (0) 28 9079 24.

Gareth Murphy (pictured above with sons Nathan and Jordan and second wife Lorna), understands only too well the devastating impact that bereavement has on a family; his wife Linda died suddenly four years ago, leaving him and his two young sons struggling to cope.  “It would have been good if my sons 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.  “It’s reassuring to know now that thanks to the Families Learning Together project, kids facing bereavement will have access to this kind of support when they need it.” To find out more, please go to Gareth’s story.

Bereaved Young People Launch Film Project

Children and young people are often less afraid of talking about death than adults are.  A group of courageous young people from Cruse Bereavement Care have proved this point by creating an ingenious montage of short films about life, grief and hope. 

Each of the unique films in the “Being There” project were written and acted by a group of 13 teenagers from the Cruse Youth Advisory Group, which has been funded since 2008 by the Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Communities Programme.  Working in collaboration with Belfast based creative agency Journeyfor, the young people produced the films during a story boarding day and a residential in May, 2013.

“We made this film because although we are young—13, 18, 21—we all know what it feels like to lose someone you love to cancer, suicide, heart failure, whatever,” says Bridget.  “We have been there.  We know what grief feels like. We also know what it’s like to discover someone else being there for you in the middle of your pain.  That’s why we created this project; we wanted to be there for other young people who are grieving, and for all the adults who are trying to support them.”

Raw, real and hopeful, this production is more than a one-off event; it is a showcase of young people’s real-life stories of loss, courage and memory-making.  To purchase a copy of the “Being There” DVD (while supplies last), contact

Posted: 24 March 2014

Desney Cromey Awarded MBE

Congratulations to Desney Cromey, who was awarded an MBE at an Investiture at Buckingham Palace on 24th January 2014. Desney received the award for 'services to bereaved children in Northern Ireland.'

Desney's colleague Elaine Roub from Cruse (NI) stated: "Desney has played a crucial role of hope and healing in the lives of bereaved children and young people in Northern Ireland over the past 27 years.  Through her initiation of the "Treetops" Child Bereavement Service and the Bereavement Education Network (which later became the NI branch of CBN), Desney has truly been the unsung Champion of bereaved children in Northern Ireland."

Speaking of the award, Desney said, "I feel so honoured and touched by this award, especially since it was my colleagues who put me forward for it."  She added, "I'm thrilled that children's bereavement is being recognized in this way. I will wear this award lightly because it rests on the shoulders of the team I worked with and all the colleagues who supported me along the way." 

Young Rainbow Makers

Cruse Bereavement Care launched the evaluation of its services to children and young people in Northern Ireland, entitled ‘The Rainbow Makers’, from Stormont on 19 September.  DUP MLA, Mrs. Brenda Hale, hosted the event, which celebrated Cruse’s recent success in supporting children and young people through bereavement.

From its initial launch in 2008 with a 5-year grant award from the Big Lottery Fund Reaching Communities programme, over 800 people children aged 4-18 have received support through the Young Cruse project.  A few of those young people and their parents spoke at the launch event, sharing their stories, tears and courage with us.  Health Minister Edwin Poots concluded the event by thanking Cruse for their efforts on behalf of bereaved people across Northern Ireland.

Speaking at the event, Local DUP MLA Brenda Hale outlined the incredible role that Cruse has played in the lives of those young people who have been bereaved, and thanked them for their commitment to enhancing society’s care of bereaved people.

Cruse NI Director, Anne Townsend, commented that “The evaluation report reveals that this project has provided life changing benefits for all those involved. The learning outcomes from this evaluation are valuable to all who provide bereavement support services for children and young people across the UK.

You can download a copy of the report here.


Gardening with the generations

Ellie and the Mayor - gardening across the generationsA gardening initiative which brings together young people and older people in Northern Ireland who have been bereaved was launched this week by the Mayor Councillor Margaret Tolerton at the Little Green Allotments in Lisburn. Over a four week period, the participants will attend workshops focusing on horticultural knowledge, self-motivation, contributing and being involved in a group environment and fun.

The workshops are part of ‘Beyond Words’, a partnership project between Cruse Bereavement Care and the Stroke Association. The project is funded by the Big Lottery Fund’s ‘Reaching Out: Connecting Older People’ programme.

Mayor with Lillian - intergenerational gardening

Paul Finnegan, Beyond Words Project Manager said; “Being connected with nature helps people accept the inescapable cycle of life and death and these workshops have been developed to help participants plan for the future in relation to growing something.  It is a pleasure to see young people and older people enjoying each other’s company, sharing stories and finding connections.  The Intergenerational gardening concept is a win-win activity for everyone!  The young people are learning how to grow their own food and flowers — a lifelong gift they can use to improve their quality of life at home and in the community.  They also glean wisdom from and nurture a relationship with an older adult.  The young gardening buddy is encouraged through the workshops to nurture the older gardener's creativity or sense of adventure by suggesting new ideas or asking to try unusual plants.  ”

The Mayor, Councillor Margaret Tolerton, said: “I am really pleased to support this gardening initiative which so many people will benefit from.  In the short-term those people directly affected by grief will find some comfort in channelling their energy in to gardening and the new growth associated with it.  However, in the long-term the skills that they will learn through the programme will continue to enhance their live.  I would like to commend Cruse Bereavement Care and Stroke Association on the valuable work they do in helping people when they need it most.”

Grainne Phillips from the Little Green Allotments said; "We can tailor these programmes for any group or organisation.”

Ellen Esler who is a participant in the workshops stated; “I am really enjoying meeting people and working with older people in discovering how different plants and flowers grow.  It’s been great fun too!”

Posted: 5 August 2013

Participants with Mayor - gardening across the generations

Foyle Cruse Celebrates its 25th Birthday

Staff and Volunteers from Foyle Cruse at the celebration eventThis year Foyle Cruse is celebrating 25 years in the Foyle area and they held their celebration event in the Playhouse in Derry on May 15th. Foyle Cruse continues to prove a lifeline for people who are grieving the loss of a loved one in a world which moves on very quickly. They have been an unwavering support to people in the North West trying to cope with living after the death of someone close to them. Volunteers, staff, service users and Derry’s Mayor were among the guests at the Playhouse. Speaking at the event Derry’s Mayor, Kevin Campbell paid tribute to dedicated Cruse volunteers here in the city.

“I want to offer my heartfelt thanks to the volunteers and the professionals and the much- needed support they offer to people who have lost a loved one. “We are indebted to the volunteers who are at the heart and soul of Cruse and this project will further enhance their work.”

Anne Townsend, Director for Cruse NI, congratulated the organisation’s Foyle office on 25 years of care and support in the local community. “We’ve had 25 wonderful years and thousands of people have been helped. “Death is a part of life, it affects us all. Children and young people are affected, adults are affected. There are 14,000 deaths in Northern Ireland each year and research has shown that at least three people are impacted by each death. We are committed to doing all we can to help those people but we can only do it with the support of our volunteers.”

Cruse Beyond Words Launch in the North West

Valerie Miskimmon, Regional Chair of Cruse NI, Tom Richardson NI Director of Stroke Association, Anne Townsend Director of Cruse NI Paul Finnegan Beyond Words Manager and Rosie Oakes Beyond Words CoordinatorThe launch of Beyond Words in Derry meant an acting role for stroke survivor, Nora McCullough who took to the stage of the Playhouse to help promote our partnership project with Stroke Association. ‘Beyond Words’, funded with a grant of £479,000 from the Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Out: Connecting Older People programme, is aimed at providing bereavement support to older people, particularly stroke survivors, their carers and those living in sheltered housing.

As part of the launch, Nora, along with Speech and Language Therapist Catherine Lowry and local actress Janine Walker presented three monologues illustrating the effects of bereavement and how people will significantly benefit from the project. The bassist from the Undertones Michael Bradley officially launched the new initiative.

Paul Finnegan who is managing the Beyond Words said; “Bereavement is a major life transition for everyone and for older people it may have a special poignancy. In Northern Ireland there are over 15,000 deaths each year, with 82% in the over 60 age group. A death can come at a time when previously reliable support systems have become weakened or disappeared. Research has shown a gap in bereavement support for older people, stroke survivors, their carers and people living in sheltered housing so ‘Beyond Words’ will aim to address this by providing the appropriate support.”

In Northern Ireland, out of 32,998 stroke survivors, around 10,000 have a communication difficulty, aphasia, which can add to the confusion and trauma of bereavement. We often think about the needs of carers and families when a loved one dies as a result of stroke but we must also be aware of the impact of bereavement on the stroke survivor when they lose their carer or loved one. Therefore ‘Beyond Words’ also aims to act as a voice for those with aphasia through our specifically tailored services.

Health Minister Edwin Poots said “It is inevitable that we will all be affected by bereavement at some time or another in our lives; the loss of a loved one can be a devastating experience, especially for those who might feel alone or isolated following the passing of a partner, child, parent, or other close friend or relative. While bereavement can have a massive impact on anyone, at any age, it can have an unexpected impact on the elderly and on those who have suffered a stroke and can find it difficult to express their grief.

Beyond Words Advisory Group Chair Colin White addresses the launch“There are therefore significant benefits to be gained from reducing the number of strokes which occur; treating more effectively those who suffer a stroke; having better rehabilitation services and providing carers with access to a range of flexible and responsive support services in the community. As Health Minister I am committed to ensuring that everyone accessing our health and social care system in Northern Ireland receives the highest possible level of care.

“Here in Northern Ireland support provided from the voluntary sector is extremely important and greatly appreciated by the Department. I am particularly pleased that Cruse and the Stroke Association are working together on the Beyond Words project and I wish you every success with it.”