December 2023 Newsletter – Support Through the Season

Supporting ourselves and one another through the holiday season
December brings silver bells and holiday cheer. It also brings extra expenses, pressurised time with family or acute isolation in some cases, and stress! Whether we love the silly season or not, it comes around every year. This issue is filled with ways you can help yourself and those around you who might be struggling over the Christmas period. We've included a calendar of Grow events taking place over the coming weeks as well as 12 Days of Christmas ideas for you and yours to help you stay merry and bright.  As always, we would love to hear from you. You can reach us on our social media platforms and by email [email protected]

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Christmas is a mixed bag of emotions for many. While some find joy and togetherness, others feel isolated and down. That's why at Grow Mental Health, we've come up with a 12 Days of Christmas list. Each day, we'll give you a practical task to help you stay grounded and prioritize self-care during this busy season. Remember, Christmas can be a rollercoaster, so let's stay connected and well. Reach out to old friends and family for a coffee catch-up, call someone who might be feeling lonely, or simply take a moment to just be amidst all the hustle and bustle. Take this time to reflect on the past year and think about the little changes we can make for the year ahead.

Join us for our 12 Days of Christmas and let us know how you're getting on. We will be posting each day on Facebook and Instagram so you can follow along!
Day 1 (Thursday, December 14th) - Head out to your local bus station to join in the Holiday Cheer. We've once again teamed up with Bus Éireann to bring you the joy of the Christmas season. Grow Mental Health choirs will be caroling for a cause in Bus Eireann stations:

The St Fiachra’s Children’s Choir, Dublin Bus Station (Busárus) 5:30 - 6:30 PM
The Hopeful Notes in Limerick Bus Station (Parnell Street) 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
The Sleigh Bell Singers in Cork Bus Station (Parnell Place) 2:00 - 3:30 PM.

Why not go along and join in or sing some carols of your own today? If you can't join a Grow choir but would like to support the fundraiser, click here.

Day 2 (Friday, December 15th) - Holiday coffee morning! Gather some friends and family for a cup of coffee, connection, and community. Even better, make it a fundraiser for Grow!
Day 3 (Saturday, December 16th) Reach out. Ring someone who might be lonely at this time of year or maybe send them a holiday note. A little bit of connection can go a very long way.
Day 4 (Sunday, December 17th) Read about or share a Recovery Story like this one from Wayne. When you share your story or read about others who have found a way not only to live but to thrive with mental health challenges, you can't help but feel hopeful. Share this joy with others.
Day 5 (Monday, December 18th) Take yourself on a date - a stroll, a tea in town, a meditation, a shopping spree, a nice dinner at home made with love and care. Carve out some time amidst all the DOING to just BE.
Day 6 (Tuesday, December 19th)  Listen to a Grow Mental Health Podcast like this one on the Cycle of Support or this one where we talk about Support Through the Season.
Day 7 (Wednesday, December 20th) Remember self-care! Make a mug of hot cocoa, grab a blanket, and watch a holiday film from start to finish. Maybe it's time for a social media clearout. Finally unfollow those accounts that bring you down instead of lifting you up. Whatever you do, do it for just you.
Day 8 (Thursday, December 21st) Have a read of these pieces inspired by the Grow Program like this piece on Hope by Jonathan or this one by Maria on Growing in Maturity.

Day 9 (Friday, December 22nd)) Find inspiration. Find purpose. Identify a cause you care about that needs support and donate. You can support Grow Mental Health by clicking here.

Day 10 (Saturday, December 23rd) Don't neglect the right brain! Get out the crayons, clay, or paint and create! Be brave and share your creation with one other person.
Day 11 (Sunday, December 24th) Reflect on where you are and where you want to go on your mental health journey. Start a journal today. To order your Grow Progress & Reflection Journal, speak to your Area Coordinator or Group Organiser.
Day 12 (Monday, December 25th) Get outside and feel alive! Conisder supporting Killian on his 50K on Christmas Day event for Grow Mental Health by taking part or making a donation to his fundraising efforts. Click here for more information. Whatever you do, get some fresh air and stretch the legs. Your body and mind will thank you for it.

Online and In Person Group Support and Social Opportunities

We don't want anyone to feel alone this holiday season as many of our in-person groups take a break for Christmas.

Friday 15th December 7.30 – 9:30 PM (online): Annual Grow Christmas Talent Show
All Growers are welcome to participate including staff and board members. Feel free to sing a song, recite a poem, tell a joke, or even show a short photo slideshow.
Contact: Alan Keaveney, 086-417 7726, [email protected] to book your place!
Zoom Link:, Meeting ID: 846 3622 8847

Friday 22nd December 2:00 PM (online): Grow Mental Health Online Open Group 
Contact: Felicia Black 086 1034332 [email protected]

Zoom Link:, Meeting ID: 852 6235 3367 

Wednesday 27th December 11:00 AM (online): Regroup and Recharge 
Contact: Felicia Black, 086 1034332, [email protected]
Zoom Link:

Wednesday 27th December 2:00 PM (in Person): Limerick Open Grow Group
Location: Limerick Office 33 Henry St Limerick 
Contact: Michael Crowe on 086 6063182. [email protected]

Thursday 28th December 11:00 AM (online): Christmas Coffee Connect Christmas 
Contact: Felicia Black, 086 1034332, [email protected]
Zoom Link:, Meeting ID: 894 0826 9404

Friday the 29th December 10:30 AM (in person): Kilkenny Group – Open to all
All are welcome and we hope you can make it along to catch up and perhaps meet members from other area groups. Followed by tea and CHRISTMAS TREATS AND CHATS at 12.30 PM
Location: Grow Office, Bridgewater House, 4 Dean St, Kilkenny R95 W022
Contact: Liz Shortall  086 0849171, [email protected]

Friday 29th December 2:00 PM (online): Grow Mental Health Open Group 
Contact: Felicia Black, 086 1034332 [email protected]
Zoom Link: 
Meeting ID: 852 6235 3367 Felicia Black 086 1034332 [email protected]

Monday 15th January 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM (online): Caring Sharing Meet Up
This is a casual information-sharing Meet-Up. We plan to share ideas that worked well around: 12 Step Events and Fundraising. Let's share what worked in our region with others.
Contact: Mary Walsh, [email protected], 087 2843424
Zoom Link:
Meeting ID: 867 0788 3695, Passcode: 387976


The Kanturk Grow Group celebrated its 30th Birthday in July of this year.
Nora Daly commenced the group and has done trojan work over the years, developing, and maintaining the meeting. Thirty years on, Nora is still going strong in Kanturk!
For her commitment to the Grow services and program of hope and recovery in her community, Kanturk Community Council chose Nora as person of the month for November.
Nora received a plaque at a ceremony for all of the nominees and now goes forward on the 5th of January for Person Of The Year 2023.
The awards are a way of honouring voluntary work in the community while raising needed funds for Kanturk Community Council for the upkeep of the local Park, Edel Quinn Hall, and other civic amenities.
The entire Grow community sends very warm CONGRATULATIONS to Nora and heartfelt thanks for her dedication over the last 30 years. Best of luck on January 5th!
   By John Madden, Grow Area Coordinator, Midlands Region
Once bitten and twice shy, and WHAM! It’s Christmas. The streets take on new life, becoming a hub of activity, and lights add an enchanting glow to towns and villages across the country. There’s an air of goodwill as so many say “Happy Christmas to you and yours”. We reach the darkest point of the year, the Winter Solstice, and remember that brighter days are coming. The songs on the radio - the John Lennon’s, Mariah Carey’s, and of course, our recently deceased legend of song from Shane McGowan - all flood our ear canals reminding us that Christmas is well and truly here.

The pubs are livelier, the shops packed, carparks become a test of our patience and fortitude as we navigate our way to find a spot, all the while trying our best to keep the “effing and blinding” to a minimum. Families reunite with scenes from the airport that imbue so many with feelings of warmth and happiness.

The food, the excess, the turkey, the ham, the gravy, the sprouts, the wrapping paper, the gifts, the joy of giving, and the joy of getting. The boxes of sweets and the USA Assorted Biscuits, and about the only time of year when we, for the most part, pretend that we really enjoy mulled wine.

The Christmas movies; Home Alone, A Miracle on 34th Street, Die Hard (Yes, it is a Christmas movie) and so many other favorites from over the years. Then there are the kids, the Santa visits, and the excitement of leaving out the carrot for Rudolph and the team. Christmas is many things to many people and it is hard not to get caught up in it all.

We do get the reminders, of course, that it won’t be easy for everybody. And, no, this isn’t going to turn into something negative but we did mention giving and getting earlier in this piece. It doesn’t always have to be something tangible. Most of us don’t really “need” anything. It’s still nice to get something but one of the best gifts we have to give is our time. Whether it’s a quick chat with the neighbours, checking in with somebody who may isolated or lonely, or even a 5-minute phone call.

As the song goes, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” and it might be one of happiness. Remember though, happiness can be like a snowball, the more it gathers, the bigger it can become. So maybe, consider sharing a little of your excess happiness with those who might need it.

We come from a tradition of lighting the candle on Christmas Eve and placing it in our window to indicate that there is space there for somebody in need. It signifies hope and guidance, gives a welcome, and conveys hospitality and openness to the community, be they a friend or a stranger. It serves as a beacon to a warm and inviting space. Maybe in all the seasonal kerfuffle, we might remember to put a candle in the window this year.

Nollaig Shona duitse, John.

Join us for the Annual Grow Community Christmas Talent Show 

We are looking for artists, singers, poets, and anyone who would like to share their talent or art for the Annual Grow Mental Health Talent Show. Each year around Christmastime we come together online to showcase some amazing Grow talent. For a couple of hours on December 15th we will be merry, amazed, and connected. If you would like to sing a song, recite a poem, tell a joke, or even show a short photo slide show, contact Alan at 086-417 7726 or [email protected] to book your place!



This Christmas Day Killian Andersen is running 50km in Naas, Co. Kildare to raise money for Grow Mental Health. 

Killian notes: "Everyone is fighting their own battles and sometimes Christmas can be especially hard when you're going through a tough time. Christmas Day is often associated with a time of joy and happiness, but it needs to be shared that it can also be a time of pain for many who struggle with mental health challenges. I wanted to take on this challenge to show that we are stronger than we think, and each can take on our struggles and come out the other side stronger."

The route will be a 5km loop repeated 10 times. Killian is encouraging those in the area to come out and join him. You are welcome to join for any distance you like and use the time to chat, get out of your head, or just get some fresh air. If you'd like to help this fundraiser, please feel free to donate or share it on social media. Every little helps. We are deeply grateful to Killian for his charity and commitment to helping Grow Mental Health provide much-needed community peer support groups in Ireland.

Click here for the details.


By Mike Watts, Grow Member, Southeastern Region

As the news of Shane MacGowan's death and funeral flood the headlines, I am called back to the time when Shane and his family so generously helped us spread Grow's message of hope and recovery.

In 1998 my wife Fran and I appeared on Gerry Ryan’s popular morning radio show and told our story of recovery through Grow. Some time later a journalist named Siobhan made contact asking if she could attend the Grow Mental Health National Weekend to see what we were all about. Siobhan then requested an interview with me as the Grow National Program Coordinator at the time. We met in Dublin in the Capel St. office and she asked a lot of questions.

Sometime later I received an invitation to the home of Therese and Maurice MacGowan, parents to Siobhan and her brother Shane. It was a warm and friendly house in Silversprings, near Nenagh in County Tipperary. Therese and Maurice were most welcoming and that day a plan was set in motion to raise much-needed funds for Grow and also to raise our profile.

Over the next twelve months, we held several meetings in various hotel foyers. Maurice enlisted the help of a man called Dave Mullins also known as The Writer and he used his innumerable contacts to recruit the Pogues, Ronnie Drew, the Dubliners, and Siobhan and her own band who would all join Shane. This amazing concert was to take place at the Point Depot on the 13th of December 1998. It would be called Shane MacGowan’s Christmas Party in Ireland: The Irish Rover’s Return. Even more amazing was the willing inclusion of Johnny Mac, a Grow member and professional musician.

The concert raised over £17,000 for Grow and marked the beginning of a huge expansion plan.  The show ended with Shane and his mother Therese singing Fairy Tale of New York and all the musicians joining in. It was a night that will be etched in the collective Grow memory for decades to come. 

Grow Mental Health extends enormous gratitude to Shane and his family and great sympathy to his family and friends. 

The cover and excerpt from the concert program. The article about Shane was written by his father, Maurice MacGowan.
Wallace Mobile Homes in Wexford presented Grow Area Coordinator Felicia Black with a very generous cheque following their October fundraising campaign. On behalf of Grow, we would like to thank Wallace for their kind donation. Their generosity will facilitate the continued work of Grow in the Southeast. 


The Dundalk group where carrying Grow's message to others in need when they set up an information stand in the Dundalk library in October. Three members of the group and Area Coordinator Attracta McNeice were at the library handing out leaflets and answering questions. There was a good level of interest and members enjoyed lunch together over the midday break. Well done to everyone for their commitment and dedication to Grow.

By Attracta McNeice, Grow Area Coordinator, Eastern Region

Pictured right is Fr. Stan Mellett celebrating his 92nd Birthday with the Dundalk group with tea and birthday cake after the meeting. Fr. Stan has reached a wonderful age and his knowledge, kindness, and commitment to the Grow Program are so inspiring and encouraging for all of us in our Dundalk group and the wider Grow Community. We wish Fr. Stan many happy returns.



Starting in 2024, we are moving our monthly online Caring & Sharing Coffee Morning to the last Monday of each month.

The monthly Zoom coffee mornings hosted by Grow Volunteer and Member Support Officer Mary Walsh are a good chance to keep in touch with what is happening in the broader Grow program as a member. The meet-ups are very casual (not a meeting) and laid-back, sometimes with an informal agenda.

Chat and catch up with friends and the wider Grow community. See what’s going on. It's like a podcast that isn’t recorded or a live Grow newsletter.

Just grab a cuppa & log in.

What people are saying about the Caring & Sharing Coffee Morning:
I find Grows Coffee Morning helpful as Grow members from across the country can share ideas and discuss problems about their individual groups.

Caring & Sharing Coffee Mornings are limited to one hour and open to anyone in the Grow community. Join us!
Zoom Link
Meeting ID: 867 0788 3695
Passcode: 387976

Grow is seeking an Interim Digital Services Development Manager (Full-time, 1-year contract). This role would suit a motivated individual who is passionate about empowering the recovery of people who are affected by mental health challenges. If interested, contact Craig on the hiring team: [email protected]

Colette Flannery
has been appointed as Interim Head of National Programs. Congratulations on the appointment and her on this appointment and we wish you every success in this role, Colette.

Kris Berg
has joined the Grow MH team in the role of Human Resources Officer. We are thrilled to have Kris as a part of our community and wish her the very best in her new role. Welcome to Grow, Kris!

December 3rd - International Day of Persons with Disabilities
December 5th - International Volunteer Day
December 10th - Human Rights Day

December  21st - Winter Solstice
December 24th - Christmas Eve
December 25th - Christmas Day
December 26th - St. Stephen's Day

Open to all staff members. (Attendance to be in your own time) weekly on Mondays @ 2 PM Contact Mary Walsh for the link: [email protected]


Online Grow Group meeting every Friday at 2 PM for any Grow member who might have missed their weekly Group, is looking for some extra support between meetings or would like to offer support to others. Contact Felicia: [email protected]

Meetings take place online on Tuesdays between 10:30 AM and 12 PM. Click here for more details.

Our Caring and Sharing Online Coffee Morning is open to anyone in the Grow Community and meets online on the LAST Monday of every month (note the change in day). Contact [email protected] for details. Why not come along and share with other Grow members and staff in a casual, friendly setting?
Stay up to date with Grow by subscribing to our social media channels at the links below.

Grow in Ireland
Registered Charity Number: 200223294
33 Henry Street, Limerick, Ireland
Information Line: 0 818 474 474
Find a Grow Group Near You
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