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Innovative project celebrates seven years of support for families

Innovative project celebrates seven years of support for families

A project that has improved the lives of over 5,000 parents and children in nursery education in Belfast was welcomed to the city hall by Lord Mayor Arder Carson to celebrate its seven years of working to support early years learning and development.

The Our Shared Vision project was launched in November 2009 to support families in the health and educational development of their children. The programme came to an end this month and marked its success with an event at Belfast City Hall.

“I would like to congratulate all involved in the Our Shared Vision project which has provided innovative and wide-ranging support to boost the learning and health of some of Belfast’s most disadvantaged communities,” said Mayor Carson.

“Early intervention leads to improved outcomes for young people. It leads to improved attainment in primary school as well as improvement in children’s health and behaviour.”

The Education Authority (EA) was the lead partner for the project which was supported by £1.2million from the Big Lottery Fund’s Live and Learn Project. Our Shared Vision worked with families in the Whiterock, mid-Shankill, Sandy Row and Cliftonville/Ardoyne areas of the city.

“Parenting can be a difficult and challenging job. Through the Our Shared Vision project we listened to the needs of parents with pre-school children to assist them in supporting their child’s health and educational development,” said the EA’s Joanne Sweeney, Co-ordinator of the Our Shared Vision Project.

“The overarching aim was to support parents to be their child’s first and ongoing educator. We did this through a range of interventions – parent and child activities, positive parenting programmes, health and well-being workshops, one-to-one support, dad-focussed events and other training courses and programmes.

“Parents were supported to increase their self-esteem and confidence, to access other supports services such as counselling, or advice on returning to education or getting back to work.”

School partners included Edenderry, Arellian and Our Lady’s nursery schools, Whiterock Children’s centre and South Belfast Surestart. Over 2,000 children and 3,000 mums, dads, carers and extended family members have benefitted from Our Shared Vision since 2009.

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The Education and Library Boards (ELBs) were dissolved on 31 March 2015. The Education Authority was established on 01 April 2015 and is now responsible for all of the operational functions previously carried out by the five ELBs in accordance with the Education Orders.

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