2012 Volunteer Ireland Awards, Social Work

Sr. Helen Culhane, Children's Grief Project

Limerick, Category Winner

Sr. Helen Culhane started The Children’s Grief Project three years ago. The project offers a support service for school-aged children and young people affected by loss through death, separation or divorce. It provides a safe and supportive place for children and young people and their families who are grieving.  The project is volunteer run and not-for-profit,  volunteer art therapy teachers and counsellors give an hour once a week to help. The project is a vital support for families with children who cannot afford to pay for support services.

Helen's volunteer work involves listening to children from the ages of 4-18  who have gone through a tragic time. Her work has become so important to the families she helps -  people travel up to 60km just to avail of this invaluable service.  There is such a demand for her project that she now has 30 children on a waiting list for the service. 

Michelle Walsh nominated Sr. Helen for a Volunteer Ireland Award, she said "I always ask Helen, what do you get out of it? She says, 'after a couple of sessions when a child leaves my office happy and excited and looking forward to their future again, I know my job is done and that is enough for me.' You just have to look around Helen's office to see all the pictures painted for her and the thank-you cards. She gets no government donations - she goes around to schools in Munster and talks about her project. She has a little brown box outside in the hall where families can just put in a few euros. She is the only support service like this in Munster as far as I’m aware of."

Photography by Bridget O'Donnell.