Rainbows Ireland is a peer-support programme to assist children and young people experiencing a significant loss in their lives through a death, separation or divorce in their family. Founded in Chicago, USA in 1983, Rainbows was established in Ireland in 1988. Today Rainbows operates in all thirty two counties of Ireland and the programme is offered in East Limerick by Hospital Family Resource Centre.

Rainbows helps by providing a safe setting in which children  and young people can share their feelings, emotions and struggles with others who have similar experiences. They are supported in this process by a trained facilitator.

When a change takes place in the family, whether it is a death, divorce or separation, it has a profound effect on all the members of the family. Rainbows was developed to provide children and young people an opportunity for support after their painful loss.

Since it is necessary for emotional healing to take place after a significant loss the purpose of the support groups is to provide those grieving an opportunity to share their feelings in an accepting environment, supported by trained, caring and compassionate adults.
The programme is presented as a series of 12 weekly themes.  The themes are developed in a way appropriate to the age of the participants. The themes are:

  1. One of a Kind – Self
  2. Inside Out – Feelings
  3. Why My Family?
  4. Making The Pieces Fit
  5. Blow Ups and Let Downs – Anger & Hurt
  6. Facing Fears and Worries
  7. We Are Family
  8. Where Do I Fit In, in my family now?
  9. Different Kinds of Families
  10. Endings and Beginnings
  11. Weathering The Storms – Coping Tools
  12. Reaching Out


The vision of the programme is that the grief experienced by children and young people in Ireland, following a significant loss in their lives, is recognised and that they are offered the understanding and support necessary to foster emotional well-being.
A group of children and young people of similar age and loss experience, meet in a safe welcoming environment with trained facilitators . Space and opportunity are provided to confidentially tell and re–tell, share and re–share, explore and re-explore feelings and emotions. Participants come to identify, understand, accept and come to terms with many conflicting emotions
Rainbows is not a professional counselling or therapy service nor does it analyse, diagnose or solve problems. It does not advise, criticise or judge. It does not treat emotional or behavioural problems. It does not report, take notes or give evidence to anybody except as laid down by Child Protection procedures. It does not deal with traumatic grief – e.g. Murder, violence etc.

If you would like further information on the programme you can visit the Rainbows Website here or contact us at the centre on 061 383884.

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