Anam Cara is an all-Ireland organisation providing online and face-to-face peer support services for bereaved parents. Anam Cara has connected with over eight thousand parents since it was setup in 2008, holding a minimum of 100 events each year for bereaved parents across 32 counties.

Their core values are:

  • To respect each other’s grief
  • No judgement
  • To listen and be listened to
  • No recommendations or ‘shoulds’
  • To journey on
  • Show consideration for each other’s beliefs
  • Inclusivity
  • Confidentiality

Who then can so softly bind up the wound of another as he who has felt the same wound himself.
Thomas Jefferson

Impact of funding

Anam Cara were awarded funding of €269,920 from July 2016 to June 2019 to cover the salary costs for the CEO and an Administrator three days a week under the Scheme to Support National Organisations administered and managed by Pobal. SSNO funding has meant that Anam Cara can continue to develop and extend their services. Without this funding they would not have been able to undertake current and new initiatives. A reduced urgency around fundraising has also meant that the CEO can dedicate time to these initiatives. With a full-time staff of just 2.5 people, almost all projects require significant input from the CEO – time which might otherwise have been taken up by fundraising. All projects also require considerable administrative support.

Upcoming projects which, though not funded directly, will be enabled by the funding provided to Anam Cara under the SSNO include:

  • The establishment of Anam Cara Waterford
  • Hosting Connemara and Mayo outreach events
  • Developing new booklets for the Anam Cara Information Pack

In the first year of their SSNO funding Anam Cara reported that:

  • As the organisation’s profile has risen, they have seen an increase in attendance at some groups. In one such case this has resulted in a new, separate group which began meeting in Bray from September 2017, alongside the original group which continues to meet in Tallaght.
  • They are working on establishing a group in the Midlands. However, they cannot set this up until they are certain that they have in place reliable and strong locally based volunteer parents to co-facilitate monthly meetings.
  • Large counties with a dispersed population present a unique challenge. They are now extending their outreach model backed by a PR plan piloted in Cork and Donegal.
  • They have developed a booklet for parents with no surviving children and also held a support event for this group of stakeholders in their Midlands, facilitated by a very experienced bereavement support therapist. Feedback has been very positive. Recognising the unique and difficult challenges and milestones faced by these parents, Anam Cara hopes to bring these parents together again in the future.
  • Responding to parents’ needs and conscious that the Parents Forum on the Anam Cara website was no longer particularly ‘active’, they set up a closed Facebook Group for parents to engage with each other through.

Some of the other challenges Anam Cara face relate to raising awareness. For example,

  • The ongoing search for an ambassador with a national profile who can tell the Anam Cara story. There are many bereaved parents out there who remain unaware of the services provided by Anam Cara and it is felt that one major public awareness campaign could assist in raising the profile of the organisation and supports available.
  • Media outlets often request the first-person testimony of a bereaved parent when publicising Anam Cara events. Anam Cara is very protective of the parents who use their services and so can only very rarely facilitate this.

Anam Cara have supported 1,788 individuals in the first year of receiving SSNO funding.