Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson recently paid a visit to Lisburn Sure Start at LaganView Enterprise Centre.
Mr Donaldson joined the project co-ordinator, members of the management committee, representatives from Old Warren Primary School and Barnardos to discuss early intervention services within the Lisburn area.
Sean Thompson, acting principal of Old Warren Primary school raised the need for improvement in speech, language and communication for nursery school and primary school aged children. The importance of service provision for children aged 0-3, was highlighted as essential to promote school readiness and improve speech and language development.
Lisburn Sure Start, in collaboration with Early Intervention Lisburn and the South Eastern Trust, will be launching the ‘Two Rhymes by Two’ initiative in April. This initiative will be led by Lorraine Coulter (Speech and Language Therapy Manager, South Eastern Trust) and will promote early language development in children from birth to two.
Lisburn Sure Start’s management committee is comprised of representatives from community, voluntary and statutory agencies. This includes Bryson Charitable Group, South Eastern Trust, Home Start, Barnardos, The Welcome Project, Resurgam Community Trust, a retired principal from Holy Trinity Nursery and Hillhall Regeneration Group.
The management committee is chaired by Joanne Neill, from Bryson Charitable Group, who is the lead and accountable agency. Early years organisations within Lisburn are committed to working in partnership, which has been supported by the Early Intervention Lisburn project. Sure Start is commissioned to provide services, within the Lisburn area to families with children aged 0-4, residing within the Old Warren Ward (including Knockmore Estate), Tonagh Ward and Hillhall Estate.
Following Mr Donaldson’s visit to the Lisburn Sure Start office in Old Warren Primary School, he visited a Stay and Play programme in Hillhall. He was joined by Dawn Thompson, Assistant Director of Children’s Services (Bryson Charitable Group) and welcomed by children and parents members.
Mr Donaldson also met with a local women’s group in Hillhall, before visiting a Sure Start crèche and Laganview young mothers group in Old Warren.
Speaking after his visit, Mr Donaldson said: “It was a pleasure to visit these excellent projects and to see at first hand the vital work being undertaken by Lisburn Sure Star and their partners with some of the younger children and their parents in what are recognised as socially deprived areas.
“It is clear that this initiative is making a real difference to the lives of many people in improving the educational development and social wellbeing of these children and providing them with a firm foundation on which to build their future academic and employment prospects.
“It is already proven that early years intervention such as that provided by Sure Start can make a real difference to the progression of children and young people through the education system and it reduces significantly the prospect of their leaving school without formal qualifications.
“In light of the vital work that they do, we must ensure that organisations such as Sure Start and similar schemes continue to be adequately resourced and well funded.”