Suir Haven Cancer Support Centre is funded by North Tipperary Hospice which relies entirely on fundraising and voluntary contributions. It offers emotional support, practical help and information and education to anyone with a cancer diagnosis, their carers, and / or family members.
At the time of securing a Seeds Grant, there were no existing children’s grief support programmes in North Tipperary assisting the many children who struggle with bereavement on their own, both anticipatory and actual. It was intended this programme would also help surviving parents to cope better with their children’s and their own grief.
Unfortunately, establishing this training and support programme stalled due to the long-term effects of Covid-19 on staff and NCCP guidelines prohibiting any group activities in facilities such as Suir Haven Cancer Support Centre.
Nonetheless, Eileen Kennedy reported significant progress was achieved in researching and generating ideas. This included meetings with all six counsellors involved in Suir Haven Cancer Support Centre and the LARCC Cancer Care Centre in Mullingar. From these meetings it was evident there were two strands to designing this programme:
- Helping children to come to terms with a parent’s or sibling’s illness.
- Providing support through the grief process after the loss of a parent or sibling.
Eileen Kennedy also met with the Survivorship Team of the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) who co-ordinate the CLIMB (Children’s Lives Include a Moment of Bravery) programme founded by Tree House Foundation Colorado.
This programme is for children aged between 5 and 12 who are experiencing the impact of a parent’s, other significant adult’s or a sibling’s cancer diagnosis. The programme is run over 6 weeks and aims to build upon the child’s strengths and increase their ability to cope with stress associated with such a diagnosis. Through group activities, small groups of children engage in art therapy and play therapy as tools to enable them to express their feelings.
The NCCP are currently training facilitators to roll out CLIMB to all cancer centres in Ireland. Suir Haven Cancer Support centre were offered and accepted four places on the CLIMB tutor / facilitator level one training programme aimed at children aged between six and 12 years old.
As a result, North Tipperary Hospice is now / soon will be in a position to deliver the course at Suir Haven Cancer Support Centre, as well as in their Nenagh and Roscrea centres.
If you would like to learn more about supporting children and teenagers who are grieving, please visit The Irish Childhood Bereavement Network.
In addition, you might like to check out the following IHF supported resources:
- 10 Ways to Support a Child’s Grief – YouTube (1.31 minutes) provides some key guidance for adults supporting a bereaved child or young person
- Finding your Way through Grief – YouTube is a short video (3.34 minutes) in collaboration with St Francis Hospice providing information and support for teenagers and young people who have been bereaved
- Children grieve too. So, what can you do? – YouTube (1.18 minutes) uses the letters in TEARS to break down some steps to help bereaved children and young people