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The University of Ulster has teamed up with bereavement charity Pips and children from two north Belfast schools to produce a range of Christmas cards appropriate for recently-bereaved families.

The Christmas holiday period can be a difficult time for families affected and the customary messages and images of joy and happiness can be challenging and strenuous, according to art lecturer Louise O’Boyle, who led the ‘Peaceful Christmas’ project.

“We worked with pupils from Belfast Boys’ Model and Little Flower girls to develop designs and ideas for alternative Christmas cards that would be suitable for someone who had recently been bereaved. We wanted to work with post primary schools so we could introduce conversations about emotional wellbeing, and to develop empathy for others and grasp the impact events like suicide could have on families.

“And the response from the pupils was brilliant,” she added.”

A panel comprised of representatives from PIPs and the University of Ulster chose six winning designs which will be printed onto cards and packs sold in student union shops, through the schools and other local venues, with all proceeds donated to local suicide prevention charities.

Claire Mulrone, Ulster’s Community Engagement Manager, said “Pips and the University’s Science Shop have been working together on a range of community engagement activities over a number of years, and this project builds on this well established relationship. “

Philip McTaggart of suicide prevention charity Pips said: “Many Christmas cards have messages saying “Happy Christmas” or “Merry Christmas” and we thought that might not be an appropriate message to send to someone who had lost a loved one. That’s why we wanted to develop an alternative.

“It’s been a fantastic project, as it gives those young people from the two schools the chance to work with a university – and think about how they might at a later stage go to University themselves.

“This project has made the children’s imagination come alive. They have really put a lot of work into their designs. We’re absolutely delighted with the effort and the creativity these young people have shown.”


Notes for Editors

This project was funded by the University of Ulster as part of its widening access and participation strategy.