The organisation, which offers support and assistance to bereaved parents, is in the process of establishing a new base in Bantry, writes Brian Moore
UP to now, the only way for bereaved parents across West Cork to properly access the support services provided by Anam Cara has meant a journey to Cork City.
However, this is all about to change with the recent announcement that plans for a West Cork office, centred in Bantry, are underway.
‘For a grieving family, living in a remote rural area, access to the support and care they need often means a long car journey to Cork city,’ Anam Cara’s West Cork facilitator, Catherine Holdroyd told the Southern Star.
‘While Anam Cara has organised twice yearly meetings in West Cork, we want to make these supports available on a monthly basis.’
In Irish, Anam Cara means ‘Soul Friend’ or a person who truly understands, and it is through this shared understanding that the organisation is working to support parents not only in Cork but across the country as well.
At a recent bereavement meeting at the Maritime Hotel in Bantry, Sharon Vard, Anam Cara’s CEO said that the organisation had identified a need for more access to their services in West Cork.
‘We’ve run information evening twice a year in West Cork since 2012, but for parents who have suffered the terrible loss of a child, travelling to the city from remote areas is the last thing they need,’ Sharon said.
Every year almost 2,000 parents nationwide experience the death of a son or daughter. Anam Cara works to support these grieving parents by helping them to feel that they are not alone and that support is available.
‘There is a meeting, on the first Wednesday of every month in Cork city where bereaved parents can gather and find the support they need from those who have already experienced the trauma of losing a child,’ Catherine said. ‘We want to have the same service – a meeting every month – for the parents of West Cork where they can come and find what we can to do to help them.’
In West Cork, the volunteers at Anam Cara plan to have their monthly meetings at the Maritime Hotel in Bantry.
‘With a rural area as big as West Cork we want to be able to provide, in conjunction with the other groups and organisations in the area, a regular contact point where parents can gather,’ Catherine said.
‘Together with those who have also experienced the loss of a child we will be able to support each other through a mutual sense of not being alone in grief.’
It is this togetherness that allows those grieving to feel that there is support available.
‘While at Anam Cara we offer online support and face to face meetings,’ Catherine continued, ‘the knowledge that there are people out there in the community going through the same pain and loss is vital to help parents see that they are not going through this terrible time alone. We keep the memories of our loved ones alive and we offer a positive outlook for the future. While the wound will heal in time, the scars run deep and will always be with us.’
‘Our mission is that every family, no matter where they are in the country, will have the support they need should they experience the death of a son or daughter. We will be working closely with other community groups and organisations that are already in place in West Cork. We will bring our services to this area with the help of our volunteer parents, who have all experienced the loss of a child. We will be able to offer support and care to all those parents who would otherwise have to travel to the city,’ Sharon Vard said.
‘If you or someone you know is affected by the death of a son, daughter or sibling, Anam Cara is here to provide support and information. There is comfort in knowing that you are not alone, that other families are dealing with the same tragedy and that someone does understand,’ Catherine concluded.
For more about Anam Cara and the services provided, call 01-4045378, email [email protected] or log on to anamcara.ie.
• There will be another Anam Cara meeting at the Maritime Hotel in Bantry on March 7th from 7.30 to 9.30pm.