Omagh Support & Self Help Group (OSSHG) is the charity founded in the aftermath of the Omagh Bomb in August 1998 to give support and solace to victims of terrorism and the wider community affected by such acts.
In practical terms the Charity operates a Community Centre in Omagh that is the hub for social activities, reconciliation seminars, family days, holistic therapy, advice, advocacy, truth and justice campaigns and lobbying. We provide a very full programme of activity throughout the year.
When on Saturday 15th August 1998 at 3.10pm a car bomb exploded in Omagh, County Tyrone, it killed 29 people plus two unborn children, and physically injured over 200 others. The bomb not only affected those directly injured and bereaved, but impacted significantly on the wider community. In a review of the Omagh bomb investigation team it found that the murder of 29 people plus unborn twins and the injury of over 200 persons had a profound effect on the general public throughout the Western World and particularly in Ireland both North and South. This was illustrated by the unprecedented media interest and the outpouring of revulsion against the bomb attack, which occurred at a time when the two communities in Northern Ireland were beginning to enjoy the benefits of peace. In the Irish Republic 3 young boys were killed and 2 young people from Spain. We continue to provide support and retain close connections with these families.
While those not closely affected are able to consign the Omagh Bomb to history, our people still need help, support and care to deal with that tragic event. OSSHG was set-up by the survivors of the bomb and has been serving the people of Omagh and further afield ever since. The charity provides services in three main areas:
- To have positive impact on the social, physical and emotional well-being of victims and survivors.
- To increase understanding and awareness of victim and survivors issues.
- To advocate or and pursue reparations for victims and survivors.
Our Staff & Management Committee Team
Our Management Committee is made up of local people who are largely victims and survivors of the Omagh Bomb. We have a very active volunteer input into our work with 36 volunteers and we employ 7 staff consisting of Director, Project Officer, Clerical Officer, Health and Wellbeing Caseworker, Advocacy caseworker and 2 Welfare Advisors. The staff work closely with the Management Committee and a large number of supporters to ensure a very active programme of activities and care is provided to those who depend on our Charity.
Stanley Mc Combe
Stanley’s wife Ann, aged 49 was killed in the 1998 Omagh bomb. Stanley is a well known prominent campaigner for justice within the group he has travelled all over the world meeting with other victims groups listening to their experiences and sharing his experience. Stanley started his carrier as a trainee Clerk in accounts with Strabane District Council and later in Omagh Education Offices. In his later years Stanley managed a bar and restaurant in the Beragh area of Omagh for five years. He went on then to Manage a Turf Accounts in Omagh for over ten years before opening his own furniture business in Omagh until the death of his wife Ann in the Omagh bomb.
Amanda is self employed as a registered childminder. She has been childminding now for 14 years, each day consists of running her own business, making decisions, planning outdoor activates, preparing food, safeguarding the children to whom she looks after and school pickups. Amanda’s father was a member of the security forces and was murdered in 1982.
Clive Mc Combe
Clive lost his mother in the Omagh bomb and is a founder member of the support group in 1998. Clive works full-time with a local engineering firm in Omagh as a foreman. He is also the Union Represent in the firm and has a wide knowledge of Labour Relations and Employment Law.
Michael’s brother Hugh was murdered by the provisional IRA in 1984 and his son Adrian was murdered by the real IRA in the Omagh bomb in 1998. Michael is a human rights activist, campaigning for victim’s rights and attends global events raising awareness of victims and survivors needs. He has received international recognition for his campaigning work receiving the prestigious Memory, Dignity and Justice Award at the International Centre for Victims of Terrorism in Madrid. Michael also resides on the Committee of strength to strength victims Group in New York and is a member of the international victims group R A N in the European Parliament in Brussels. Michael is retired from his transport business which operated mini-buses, taxis and wedding limousine’s.
Sandra was in Omagh on the day of the Omagh bomb and is a volunteer with the Support Group. She is skilled in accounting and finance and supports the group with its fiscal responsibilities. She is also a committee member of a number of other community groups. Sandra currently works for Fermanagh and Omagh district Council as office manager in the building control department.
Martin is a volunteer for the Support Group assisting in organizing events and fundraising. He is also a committee member within the Royal British Legion and manages the club which involves event booking, managing staff and accounting.
Martin is a good asset to the Omagh support group with his knowledge of organizing events.
Margaret is currently manager of our Charity shop manger ensuring the smooth day-to-day running and supporting volunteers. Margaret started off her career as a carer in the Community providing support to the most vulnerable members of society. She has experience in safeguarding. Margaret was also a manager for a youth community group responsible for overseeing and creating programme plans for the youth group. She has experience in management and has great coordination skills.
Patsy’s 21-year-old son Adrian was killed in the 1998 Omagh bomb and is a founding member of the Support Group. Patsy is a trained nurse and managed several small businesses prior to her retirement. In 2009 Patsy completed a Welfare Advice course through C.A.B and has been a Volunteer in the Group providing advice to our members.
Gertie’s son and daughter-in law were physically injured in the 1998 Omagh bomb. Gertie resides on the management committee of the Ethnic Community board and is a active member of the community. Gertie prior to retirement was a Manager in many different catering firms and Hotels during her life and is the main person overlooks all the catering events within the group.
Our Staff Members Are
Cat Wilkinson – Director
Sharon Douglas – Project Officer
Claire McKane – Clerical Officer
Audrey Adams – Health and Wellbeing Caseworker
Nichola McGowan – Advocacy Caseworker
Frank Devlin – Welfare Advisor
Our Mission, Vision & Focus
Our Mission: To promote, advocate for and address the needs of victims and survivors of trauma; locally, nationally and internationally.
Our Vision: A society where there is truth and justice; and victims and survivors of trauma have a positive sense of well-being and are valued, respected members of their community.
The ethos & principles of the organisation:
- Respecting, valuing and including different perspectives on healing and recovery
- Valuing the concerns/issues identified by members
- Respecting diversity and promoting inclusive participation
- Raising people’s awareness of the range of choices available to them
- Working and learning together
- Openness and accountability
- Empowerment and support
- Reflective practice – learning from mistakes and successes
To advocate and support victims and survivors in relation to Truth and Justice issues
Delivered through our advocacy service, we have a competent team to support those with legacy, truth or justice needs. Providing advice and assistance on mechanisms and associations that can offer information on client cases and examining available evidence for remedial action if required.
To increase the quality of care for victims and survivors
Dedicated outreach support through our Health and Wellbeing programme. One-to-one, personalised service assisting those with individual needs to access support to improve their physical and mental wellbeing.
To improve physical, mental & emotional health and wellbeing
We provide a range of activities including Complementary Therapies, mindfulness, yoga, and health clinics to increase wellbeing.
To promote social interaction and relationship building to reduce loneliness and social isolation
Social support is one of our priorities in reducing isolation and helping members to connect. We have a full programme of activities throughout the year including, day trips, respite, arts & crafts, monthly big breakfast mornings, a befriending drop-in centre, barbecues, and themed evenings and quizzes.
To improve conditions of life for victims and alleviate the financial hardship
Achieved through our very busy welfare department supporting clients in completing forms, maximising income, and advocating at assessments and appeals.
Our Partners & Associates
Since the 15th August 1998, OSSHG have developed many partnerships with victims organisations all over the world. We are a strong believer in reaching out and supporting victims from other attacks either locally or internationally. We are privileged to learn and share from each other to improve the lives of victims and survivors and have contributed to many international conferences and policies in the prevention of terrorism and countering extremism.
The list below shows some of the trusts and foundations that have been involved in Omagh Support & Self Help Group since it was launched in 1998. These funders have diverse interests, from supporting vulnerable Communities to reconciliation and justice projects. For many of the funders listed, supporting victims is one of their main or sole priorities. Without this support we are not unable to continue to provide the front line services we do to Victims and Survivors and the local community.