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GROW 2013 National Weekend & AGM

In this year of the Gathering, over 220 people from all over Ireland came together in the Radisson Blu Hotel, Athlone, from 18-20 October for GROW in Ireland’s AGM and National Weekend. It was good to see a healthy turnout of men (35%) minding their mental health. During his opening address on Friday, Chairperson Denis Fitzpatrick highlighted some of the successes of the past year, which included: The increased PR & social media drive; the GROW Conference; the Community Education Programme; the new Blue Book; increased staff & volunteer training and organisational improvements driven by PQASSOICTR and the Governance Code. Further details are available in the 2012 Annual Report.

Over the course of the weekend, John Lonergan and Tom Lenihan were announced as new patrons for GROW in Ireland. John, former Governor of Mountjoy Prison, was also on hand to launch the new Blue Book and the new Soul Survivors (Vol 3). Tom, current President of Trinity College Student’s Union, is a strong advocate for mental health and was named the Patron for Young Adults.

GROWers attending the weekend described it as ‘inspirational’. The speakers, John Lonergan and Donal Spring, the GROWers who shared their testimonies and the people who participated in the various workshops were inspirational. It may be the season of autumn with winter close behind but the atmosphere was more in tune with the season of spring. There was the lived evidence that GROW provides a way to recovery and as it says in the GROW programme ‘if there is hope for me; there is hope for anyone’.

The GROW in Ireland Newsletter Team

News and Updates

Managing Anxiety with Dr. Phil

My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened.” (Michel De Montaigne)

Anxiety and stress are part of normal everyday life. Stress is a physical and emotional response to what life throws at us. We are presently living in very challenging times with many experiencing powerlessness and hopelessness not knowing what is going to happen from one day to the next. Living with uncertainty can be particularly problematic and can cause much anxiety and stress. Your quality of life should not deteriorate due to stress.

While feelings of anxiety are normal in stressful situations, feelings of anxiety that persist for long periods of time may develop into anxiety disorders. Stress can trigger panic attacks, heart disease, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, phobias and numerous other illnesses.

Some Symptoms of Stress

  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Palpitations
  • Rapid or increased heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Tense muscles
  • Headache
  • Upset stomach
  • Dry mouth
  • Shaking
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of interest and ability to concentrate
  • Confusion
  • Crying
  • Angry outbursts
  • Depression
  • Increased irritability
Read Full Article...

Article by Dr Phil Robert, Psychotherapist in private practice in Cabinteely, Dublin 18.

Poet's Corner

Many GROWers have hidden creative writing talents. Each month, a few of their gems will feature in our monthly newsletter. Read the full poems on our website.

It's Not Raining Anymore (Sparky)

Exhaustion, mind distortion
surfed the waves of self mutilation
danced with my itchy fears
porcelain smiles and wetless tears.
Thought I’d never get to slumber
nightmares and flashbacks tore me a sunder.
The loneliness drove me around the bend
I wished and prayed for it all to end.


Walls - Inner and Outer (Kilkenny Writers Group)

1989 was a year to tear down walls
a year I joined GROW.
Entering the group aged 18
resembling a conker -
spiky on the outside.
Yet buried within a seed
that embraced the warm soil of Grow
enabling me to branch upwards
to the heavens’ bright light
discovering a majestic self
not known to exist before.


Where Were We Wednesday (Joan)

We gather together at 8pm
like in the old times
people did around open fires.
Opening our hearts
speaking our minds
in a safe place.


Southern Region Bunratty Trip

For the Cork Region GROW summer outing, it was decided to go to Bunratty Castle and Folk Park this year. This was their first excursion to the Mid Western region and they had a guided tour of the Castle and a wander round the Folk Park. Read More...

Day trips and outings are a part of 12th Step activity, which is an essential element of the GROW Programme.

Fundraising Initiatives

During Mental Health Week, GROW in Ireland launched a new text donation service. Supporters can simply text the word "GROW" to 50300 to donate €2 to GROW. We encourage everyone to spread the word. GROW is also in the process of registering with Deal Effect - a website which offers various deals and a portion of the price paid (11%) then goes to whichever charity the purchaser nominates.

Midlands Prison Pilot Programme

On foot of the success of a Pilot GROW Programme in the Midlands Prison a second programme was requested by the Governor and members of the Probation Service at the Prison.  The Pilot 10 week programme was carried out in February to April of this year.
A group of five Prisoners competed the Programme and provided very positive feedback on all aspects of the programme, its delivery, its content and the positive outcomes experienced by all involved. The second Programme began on Friday 1st November in the Midlands Prison Portlaoise. Well done to the Midlands GROW team.

Airtricity Dublin City Marathon

Running a marathon takes alot of stamina, courage and dedication.  We salute Fergus Heffernan, Sonia Carey and Nicole McKenna who all completed the recent Dublin Marathon and between them raised a significant sum for GROW.  Throughout the year, there are many events. Why not make 2014 the year you get out, get active and participate in one such event and raise funds for GROW in the process!

Great Limerick Run 2014

We have entered a team in the Marathon Relay event as part of the Great Limerick Run in May 2014. That is 4 x 6.5 miles. If you are interested, contact us.

Community Education Continues to GROW

GROW's Community Education Programme, also known as Understanding and Minding your Mental Health with GROW, Your Mental Health and Caring for it or more generally as Gatekeepers Courses, is being well received nationwide. Currently there are a number of courses underway: -
  • Athlone (17th Oct - 14th Nov)
  • Drogheda (17th Oct - 7th Nov)
  • Loughrea (7th Nov - 28th Nov)
  • Drumcondra (7th Nov - 28th Nov)
  • Naas (30th Oct - 28th Nov)
These courses generally run one evening a week over 4-5 weeks. Although free, booking is essential as they are usually over subscribed, such is the demand. Even if a course has started, it is always worth checking with the local office if any places remain for subsequent nights.  Although GROW caters for over 18's only, in our experience, some secondary school teachers have attended these courses and they have told us that their attendance has indirectly triggered discussions on Mental Health in the staff room and the class room. To keep abreast of upcoming courses, please visit the GROW website on a frequent basis.

Here is some feedback we have received to date: -
  • “This is my first contact with GROW and I hope to go to meetings based on what I heard”
  • “Thank you for putting the light back on”
  • “The 3 people who told their stories – a very brave thing to do and reflects how positive GROW is”
  • “I have really enjoyed the GROW program as it presented the topic of mental health in a very sensitive and realistic way. All nights have been excellent. Congrats on a great job & thank you – its been an empowering experience”
  • "So delighted to have come and learn of such a wonderful movement - thank you".

We Love our Stats!

The original GROW group recorder form is almost as old as GROW itself and its original objectives were likely threefold: -
  • To help the group manage it's activities (i.e. start time, who lead, readings etc.).
  • To help the GROW area co-ordinator (i.e. how many attended, how did people hear about GROW etc.).
  • To provide a checklist to ensure that the meeting was being held in accordance to the principles of the Group Method and the GROW Programme (quality control).
A number of years ago a new stats form was also introduced. This contained summary statistical information, some of which was also contained in the recorder form. The data from the stats forms is entered into Survey Monkey by regional administrators and then a monthly report is generated to see how GROW is performing. These reports assist management in making strategic decisions and they are also essential when reporting to the HSE (GROW's primary funder) or other agencies.

However, having two forms to fill in created extra work for the Recorder and in some cases the original recorder form fell out of use.  So, over the past 9 months, a team has been working on a new evaluation form which combines the recorder and the stats forms. Following a successful pilot phase in the Mid West (June-Oct), this new form will now be used nationwide going forward from 1st November.

Some stats for you: Compared to the existing recorder + stats form scenario, the new evaluation form will see: -
  • A saving of 40% of admin data entry.
  • About 30% saving of recorder time.
  • Some staff time saved preparing group reports for regional teams.
  • An 80% saving in A4 paper (printing, postage, filing etc.).
We encourage all GROWers and Staff to fully embrace these changes. "What gets measured gets done".

Upcoming Events

Please check the Upcoming Fundraising/Events section on the website to see what else is going on in the GROW Community.  During November: -
  • Mon 4th Nov: Fundraising Dance, Hazel Tree Inn, Mallow, 8:30pm. 4 bands playing, €10.
  • Wed 6th Nov: GROW stand at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick.
  • Sat 30th Nov: Mid West O & R Training Day in Limerick, followed by lunch.
If you have upcoming GROW events, make sure to request your regional office to put them up on the website to maximise publicity. 

Christmas Cards

It's that time of year again when we should be thinking about sending Christmas cards to friends and family both near and far.  GROW has an excellent pack of Christmas cards which are on sale now in all regional offices. Each pack is selling for €5 and contains 12 cards (2 each of 6 different designs). Each card has GROW's mission statement and contact details along with this Christmas message:

May love be in your life,
May hope be in your heart,
May the spirit of friendship
make you a free and whole
person, and gentle builder of
a free and whole community.
Happy Christmas and a
Peaceful New Year.

Writer's Corner

Sometimes at GROW meetings, GROWers come out with some wonderfully inspirational anecdotes to illustrate a point and to help someone else in the group overcome a particular problem.  Each month we include a few such samples on our website. Read More...

Annual Report 2012

Each year GROW in Ireland produces an annual report highlighting our activities, successes and aspirations. This annual report is now available on-line for those wishing to download it.

Finally, to Conor Cusack...

In case any of you missed Conor's "must see" interview with Miriam O'Callaghan, it is available on the RTE website. His original blog post, along with all the comments, are well worth reading.

The Newsletter Team

Thank you for reading our newsletter. We hope you found it interesting, informative and inspirational. If you have comments or suggestions, or want to submit an article for a future newsletter, please contact us on
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