Foyle Cruse Bereavement is set to mark its 25th anniversary with the launch of their latest service, ‘Beyond Words.’
Over the years, the charity has helped almost 10,000 people to face their grief.
The milestone will also be celebrated with a special lunch and drama production at the Playhouse on May 15.
Cruse assists and promotes the well-being of those affected by death by helping them understand grief and cope with their loss. As well as providing free care to all bereaved people, the charity also offers information, support and training services to its volunteers. Cruse has more than 100 local volunteers who offer such support to the 300 to 400 people who contact them each year.
The Playhouse celebration will be one of a number of events held locally to celebrate the milestone anniversary.
Paul Finnegan of Cruse said: “Foyle Cruse has been an exemplar of community development for 25 years.
“We have a great team of dedicated local volunteers and they provide constant support and advice to our bereaved clients. We are indebted to them because they have been and continue to be the heart and soul of Foyle Cruse - without them there would be no service. Their commitment and professionalism is the lifeblood of the service, and they’ve given support to many thousands of people from the area since our inception in 1988.
“These celebrations may prove bittersweet for some volunteers but it is important to mark their work and dedication. Our Derry office has never struggled to get help, the phone never stops with people seeking to volunteer with us. I think that is a tremendous tribute to Derry.”
Those volunteers go through a rigorous training programme. When that’s completed, a volunteer will meet two clients each week.
“Anyone can get in contact with us for support,” explained Mr Finnegan.
“The first step is to contact the Derry branch and they will arrange a meeting with a Cruse volunteer to discuss the counselling service.
“That service takes people through their bereavement to recovery, right from the initial shock to the process of turning their emotions around. They leave in a completely different shape and with a different outlook on life. The transition from pure grief is remarkable.”
The service is free and open to anyone who has been bereaved, from children aged four to adults. It is also tailored to the individual’s needs.
Mr. Finnegan said: “Some come for a chat, and some perhaps phone up and might only require some literature. Others require a period of counselling.”
In addition to celebrating the anniversary, the Playhouse event will act as the launch of the ‘Beyond Words’ project. The Lottery- funded bereavement project will support those over the age of 60 who have lost their carer.
Mr Finnegan is Beyond Words Project Manager.
“Bereavement is a major life transition. For older people it may have a special poignancy. In Northern Ireland there are over 15,000 deaths each year, with 82% of those in the over 60 age group. 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.”
To launch the new Cruse bereavement project, stroke survivor Nora McCullough will take to the stage of the Playhouse along with Speech and Language Therapist Catherine Lowry and local actress Janine Walker to present three monologues.
These were written to illustrate the effects of bereavement and how people will significantly benefit from the new project.