Galway suicide charity reopened after Covid-19 restrictions eased

The Galway branch of the suicide bereavement charity, HUGG, has reopened for in-person support after being severely hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The charity, which has 14 groups nationwide including one in Galway, is now back holding in-person group support sessions after the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions and is seeking to recruit more volunteers and facilitators.

HUGG (Healing Untold Grief Groups) was forced to move their work online as in-person meetings could not be held and their advertising campaign aimed at bringing more awareness to their work had to be put on hold.  

Impact of pandemic restrictions

Iarla Clarke, a group facilitator for the charity in Galway said, “a lot of our meetings were done via Zoom which limited the amount of people who could attend, but we are now back in a hotel environment,

“We have a hotel we attend, members are notified about the meetings, the time etc., you can come, you can listen, you can share and its open to everyone that has experienced suicide whether its directly or indirectly, a family member or not,”.

Ms Clarke said it was important to have a group like HUGG for people bereaved or affected by suicide to come to for support. As part of the charity’s planned advertising campaign they will be looking for more group facilitators.

“The unique thing about HUGG is that the group is led by two trained group facilitators who each has a lived experience with suicide. The facilitators know what you’re going through, have experienced it and understand every aspect of it,

“We are not counsellors; we are there to facilitate the meeting. We have a meeting for two hours, we talk about everything and anything like issues with coroners or anniversaries, anything that members want to share and whatever they are comfortable with,” Ms Clarke said.

Setting up HUGG

HUGG was set up in Dublin in 2017 by Fiona Tuomey after she lost her 11-year-old daughter Milly to suicide. Ms Tuomey recognised that there was a lack of support groups available for people who are bereaved or affected by suicide.

The groups meet nationwide on a fortnightly basis, free of charge and are open to anyone impacted by suicide regardless of their relationship to the deceased, or the length of time since the bereavement.

If you or someone you know would like to join or donate to HUGG, you may do so at or by calling 01 5134048.

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