SIF news - September - November 2017

New project launched supporting the mental health of young people

A new Social Investment Fund project supporting young people’s mental health was recently launched in Carrick Model Primary School in Carrickfergus on 7 November.

Pictured left to right are Jaye Pollock, Cameron Fitzgerald, Jennifer Miller, principal Carrick Model, Dylan Sproule, Sarah Boyd, Kieran Mulvenna, principal Carrick Grammar, Stuart Crooks, Evie Coates
Pictured left to right are Jaye Pollock, Cameron Fitzgerald, Jennifer Miller, principal Carrick Model, Dylan Sproule, Sarah Boyd, Kieran Mulvenna, principal Carrick Grammar, Stuart Crooks, Evie Coates

The Mental Health ‘Initiative’ project has received funding of £948k from the Social Investment Fund to deliver a range of services across the SIF Northern Zone, which broadly mirrors the Northern Health and Social Care Trust boundary. It will improve emotional resilience and provide information, support, training and signposting for a range of mental health and wellbeing support services and initiatives for 8 to 25 year olds and their key contacts. 

The project targets those living in areas within the top 10 per cent of most deprived Super Output Areas on the Multiple Deprivation Measure, specifically children and young people living in the Coleraine, Newtownabbey, Carrickfergus, Ballymena, Antrim and Larne areas.

Group picture of the Carrickfergus SIF project with young people from Carrickfergus Model PS and Carrickfergus Grammar School
Group picture of the Carrickfergus SIF project with young people from Carrickfergus Model PS and Carrickfergus Grammar School

Pictured left to right are: Jaye Pollock, Siobhan Broderick from The Executive Office (Social Investment Fund), Sarah Boyd, Helena Bracken, Project Manager with Nexus NI, Eileen McGovern, CWSAN, Chief Executive of Action Mental Health, David Babington, Dylan Sproule, William Adamson, Chair of the Northern Zone Steering Committee and Evie Coates. The young people are from Carrickfergus Model PS and Carrickfergus Grammar School, both involved in the project.

The Initiative will deliver free mental health awareness and resilience training, internet safety, sexual abuse and exploitation education for almost 6,000 young people aged from 8 to 25 in schools, youth clubs and through key contacts.

The project will run for two years until March 2019. Some 1,700 Key Stage 2 children (Primary 5 to 7) will receive the ground-breaking training, while approximately 2,700 children at post primary level (years 8-12) will also undergo the programme. The unique training package will also be delivered to some 1,380 teenagers from 16 years up to 25 through youthclub groups, parents and carers.

As training will include mental health awareness and resilience training; bespoke resilience workshops – like building resilience to cope with exam stress, self-esteem for the group; and education on sexual abuse and exploitation, the need and potential impact of a project such as this cannot be disputed.

We believe the project will be a huge success and look forward to sharing the outcomes on completion.

Celebrating Success

Delivery of the Social Investment Fund continues and a significant project in the west of the province was the first revenue project to complete delivery. Its success was celebrated at an event in the Silver Birches Hotel in Omagh on 28 September. 

The SATCHEL project (Schools and the Community Help Everyone Learn) aimed at giving children aged 4-6 years the best start at primary school and encouraging parents to be more involved in their child’s education.

Picture of at SATCHEL project celebration event
Eamon Seydak,S3 Solutions; Grainne Dunne, Knockavoe School, Strabane; Martin Duffy, Deputy CEO, Derg Valley Care; Dr Mark Browne, (SIF); Amanda Duffy-Phillips, Principal, Omagh North Nursery School; Bernard O’Shea, Manager, Barnardo’s Satchel project

SATCHEL is a partnership between Barnardo’s, Sure Start, Save the Children, Early Years, the Western Health and Social Care Trust and Derg Valley Care. The project was based in the SIF Western Zone specifically targeting deprived geographic areas including: Strabane, Omagh, Fermanagh, Castlederg and Limavady/Dungiven. The project worked with pre-schools and primary schools in those areas.

Picture of at SATCHEL project celebration event

Pitcured left to right: Michaela Boyle, West Tyrone MLA; Grainne Dunne, Knockavoe School, Strabane; Maureen McKeague, Social Investment Fund, Western Steering Group; Laura Fitzpatrick, Save the Children; Oonagh McNelis, Sion Mills PS; Maire ni Dhochartraigh, Gaelscoil ui Dhochartraigh; Bridget Wilders, St Catherine’s PS Strabane and Sandra O’Doherty, St Mary’s PS Strabane. Front row, from left, Sarah Sproule, Speech and Language; Bernard O’Shea, Manager Barnardo’s Satchel project; Catriona McGarrigle, Satchel Project Workers Strabane.

The project used a number of methods to improve the educational outcomes for children including:

  • Incredible Years School Readiness – a 4 week parenting programme to promote pre-school children’s readiness for school and address poor home-school connections;
  • Incredible Years Parenting Programme – a 12 week programme to increase parental ability to promote the social, emotional and language development of the child, develop strategies for reducing behavioural issues and increasing parental involvement in the children’s education;
  • Family Links Nurturing Programme – a 10 week parenting programme that improves family relationships, skills to manage the child’s behaviour and self-care in parents;
  • FAST programme – an 8 week programme to build relationships between parents and children, parents and schools and parental networks in the community;
  • Cook it – 6 week course for parents on healthy eating and how to cook healthy meals;
  • Respecting Difference Media Initiative training to teachers and classroom assistants to deliver messages around inclusion;
  • Toddler Yoga – Delivered to Nursery School children and their parents to encourage physical activity, bonding and attachment;
  • Speech and Language support from a trained Therapist and training for preschool to primary one staff to support children with speech, language and communication needs and;
  •  Home visits

Picture of children participating in Toddler Yoga
Picture of children participating in Toddle Yoga


Evidence based evaluations were applied to measure the impact of the project. Some of the key findings are that 42% of families reported a healthier diet than before taking part in the project; 86% of children reported improvement on a language screening toolkit; 83% of participants reported an improvement in emotional wellbeing screening. 

The evaluations of the FAST programme showed a significant change in a small proportion of families in terms of parent’s involvement in education.  The standardised evaluations also noted a satisfactory change in child academic competence, child behaviour at school, child-parent relationship, social support, reciprocal social support and teacher satisfaction.     

Many more SIF projects impacting local communities are currently delivering across Northern Ireland. 

Seeing is believing!

Delivery of the Social Investment Fund (SIF) continues at pace with the projects now increasingly visible in local communities.

A further two capital projects have recently completed construction with the Laganview Enterprise extension and the newly built Resurgam Trust 3d Youth Centre formally opened on 15 September.

Laganview Enterprise extension

The SIF Investment has enabled a 250 sqm extension to the existing Laganview Enterprise Centre, creating a Healthy Living Centre in old Warren Estate, Lisburn. Old Warren Estate is located within the top 10% most deprived and the top 10% most health deprived areas in NI.

Picture of Lagan Enterprise Centre ribbon cutting
Picture of Lagan Enterprise Centre ribbon cutting

This investment has created a fit for purpose, local facility which is now delivering a suite of health and wellbeing services. It is offering counselling services, parenting programmes, early years and early intervention programmes as well as health advice for local families. The enhanced facility was greatly welcomed by the local community at the launch event.

Picture of Lagan Enterprise Centre
Picture of Lagan Enterprise Centre

Resurgam Trust 3D Youth Centre

Also located in Old Warren, this dedicated youth facility has been built on the site of the former West Lisburn Community Centre. Originally built in the 1970s, it was no longer fit for purpose and through SIF has been transformed into a new, 375 sqm state of the Art youth centre.

Picture of Lisburn Youth Centre
Picture of Lisburn Youth Centre

Modelled on other youth development centres, it now provides a safe environment where the community can centralise its youth activities and where young people can develop and interact. More importantly it will now enable the expansion of vital youth services not just in the Old Warren area but also in other disadvantaged areas within Lisburn and across the wider SIF zone. This represents a vital investment in our young people and in their wider communities.

This increases the number of capital project which have completed construction to twelve. They follow other significant projects such as:

  • the extension to Fermanagh House, creating a one stop shop and integrated vital community services across rural Fermanagh;
  • the Bryson Street Surgery project which created a new state of the Art GP facility now known as Bridges Family Practice in East Belfast;
  • the purchase and refurbishment of premises in Sandy Row to create an enhanced hub providing training and employment support in Belfast South.

These are just some examples of SIF projects now impacting local communities with more due to reach such milestones over the coming months.

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