Project to support bereaved families

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Bereaved families across Northern Ireland are set to benefit from a new project supported by the Big Lottery Fund.

Cruse Bereavement Care is one of three projects awarded grants totalling over £2 million from the Reaching Out: Supporting Families programme, which helps families facing issues such as such as separation, absence of a key family member, poverty, disability, homelessness and abuse.

Cruse has been awarded a grant of £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.

The support includes family residentials at Corrymeela in Ballycastle, as well as bereavement counselling and home visits. Families who take part will also be encouraged to become volunteers and help other people who have lost a loved one.

Cruse project manager 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. She said this wrap-around, whole family service will build on the existing support they offer to bereaved families.

“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,” Elaine said.

“When a child has lost a parent or sibling, the surviving parent or carer can have the biggest influence on how the young person will cope. If they get the support they need, they are better able to help their children through the maze of grief.

“Children may also be protective of their parents, so they don’t want to talk about the loss and make the surviving parent even more sad, which increases the child’s sense of isolation.

“The Families Learning Together project is absolutely vital as it will allow us to bring families together in a caring environment to support each other. We hope they can come away stronger at the end of it.”

Frank Hewitt, Big Lottery Fund NI Chair, said: “We are delighted to be funding this project through our Supporting Families programme. It will strengthen family relationships and we hope it will have a really positive impact on the lives of people who need our help the most.

“We know there are more groups out there with great ideas that could transform the lives of families most in need, and help them support their children. We’re encouraging people to get their Supporting Families applications into us as soon as possible to give them the best chance of success.”

The Supporting Families programme is open for applications until 30th January 2015. For more details, see

For more information about Cruse Bereavement Care’s Families Learning Together project that is set to start early in 2015 contact Elaine Roub at Cruse on 028 90792419 or