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Hearts for Heroes at St James's Hospital

Angela Buckley, Counselling Services Coordinator/ Social Prescribing Team, Ritchie Keane, Community Development Worker from the Fatima Groups United Family Resource centre, Lorraine Fox, Concourse Manager and Bettina Korn, SJH accepting ‘Hearts for Heroes’ for staff of St James's Hospital

In recent weeks, participants from a community group in Rialto, Dublin offered 450 home-crafted hearts to frontline workers in St James's Hospital, Dublin as a token of their appreciation.  The project entitled ‘Hearts for Heroes’ involved local people from the Fatima Groups United Family Resource Centre, based near St James's Hospital.  Hearts were knitted, crafted and drawn and subsequently displayed in the hospital -  across the concourse, in the wards and in staff locations and offices. 


A representative body of residents and projects from the Fatima/Herberton, (located in the F2 Centre, Rialto),  the Fatima Groups United Family Resource Centre (FRC) was established in 1995 by a Voluntary Board of Management. The FRC  has been the driving force behind the successful regeneration of Fatima that has seen the physical and social transformation of the old flats complex.

The project operates from community development principles providing key services in the areas of health and wellbeing, education, employment, arts, childcare, counselling supports, information and advice, family support and advocacy, civic awareness and community development.

Outlining the importance of this engagement, Ms Mary Day, CEO St James’s Hospital explained that “the support of our local community including the Fatima Groups United has been so important to the staff and patients of St James’s Hospital over the last year. The Hearts for Heroes is a wonderful initiative and the artwork has been admired all over the hospital. A big heartfelt thank you to the Fatima Groups United for thinking of us during these difficult times”

Describing the project as a great success, Roisin Ryder, Community Development Worker, Fatima Groups United, pointed to how much it benefitted all those involved: “This was participant engagement during lockdown when people could not attend the F2 centre in person for programmes. Some of these participants came in contact with the project through the Dublin 8 Social Prescribing Project which is a mechanism to link people with non-medical supports for health.”

Local needs

According to Mary O'Kelly, Head of Service Primary Care, Community Healthcare Dublin South, Kildare and West Wicklow,  the “adaptability of the Fatima Groups United Family Resource Centre to meet local needs has never been more important than during the current pandemic when meeting the health and wellbeing needs, counselling supports, information and advice and arts and civic awareness has continued in new and inspired ways. The “Hearts for Heroes” is one such creative project that engaged participants with meaningful activities during lockdown and allowed them to publicly demonstrate their appreciation of the frontline healthcare workers in their local hospital.”

As one participant wrote on her heart:  “No millions or billions can ever do justice to the amount of care and empathy you show towards your patients. Thank you for not just being a frontline worker but a true hero.”

The ‘Hearts for Heroes’ project also strengthens the close relationship with St James's Hospital which is on the doorstep of the F2 centre. In addition, the Fatima Poetry Group wrote a series of haikus (short poems) entitled “Haiku for Heroes”