First Meeting to Renew & Refresh Strabane Locality Group

The first meeting to renew and refresh the Strabane Locality Planning Group took place on 25 February 2021. 

The meeting was attended by representatives from 16 organisations delivering services in the Strabane area.  The members were given a presentation on the CYPSP model and connections within structures, the purpose of Locality Planning, and examples of work taking place in other Locality Groups.  The Strabane Family Support Hub presented information on referrals to the Hub over the past year. 

A constructive discussion took place about main issues affecting families in the area, gaps in services and how the LPG members can work in partnership.

Rionghach Murphy, Chair of Strabane Locality Planning Group said “I am excited to be a part of Strabane’s renewed approach to Locality Planning.  Organisations are keen to rejuvenate and develop the group to identify keys areas for progress and create strong Community, Voluntary and statutory relationships”

Growing a Healthy, Positive Me among 200 local school children

Children transitioning from primary to secondary school have been learning how to support their own well-being through an initiative delivered through a collaboration of local partner agencies, including leading mental health charity, Action Mental Health.

The move to ‘big school’ can often present many challenges for children, and in response, the Larne and Carrickfergus Locality Planning Group (LPG), part of the Children & Young People’s Strategic Partnership (CYPSP) and the Northern Health and Social Care Trust (NHSCT), offered the mental health promotion project to P7 pupils in the Larne and Carrickfergus areas.

The project, ‘Growing a Healthy, Positive Me,’ is based on Action Mental Health’s Healthy Me programme, which promotes well-being across Northern Ireland’s primary schools and raises awareness of mental health issues among children, their teachers, parents and key contacts.

The initiative aims to improve outcomes for children, young people and families in the area, with mental and emotional well-being identified as a priority.

Action Mental Health’s MensSana teams delivered 30 minute, bitesize ‘Healthy Me’ sessions to P7 classes, online, while they were homeschooling. The sessions led children through the principles of the Five Ways to Well-Being, which are key steps designed to promote overall well-being, and reached almost 200 pupils in nine schools.

The sessions were followed up with an arts and crafts project, in which pupils were asked to design a ‘Tree of Strength’. The Tree of Strength helped to reinforce the positive messages of the online sessions and prompted children to reflect on their own, individual strengths. It also helped to illustrate positive strategies children can use to cope with the challenges they may face in future.


The completed pieces of art were then entered into a competition for a chance to win a monetary prize sponsored by the Larne and Carrickfergus LPG which could be used to purchase Health and Well-Being resources for their schools.

The ‘Growing a Healthy Positive Me’ programme was evaluated as making a very positive impact on the children, who rated it as ‘very good’. One pupil said: “I loved taking time to think about all of the things I can do and the people I can talk to, to help me feel positive about myself and reduce my anxiety.’

A teacher also commented: “The webinar was interactive and very well thought out. Children really loved discussing and drawing the Tree of Strength. It is so relevant during these difficult times of lockdown.’

Kate McDermott, Health & Wellbeing Manager, Northern Health & Social Care Trust commented: “This is a very positive and welcoming initiative aimed at children transitioning from primary to secondary school during these challenging times. It reflects the responses from the Northern Area Parents, Children and Young People Survey 2020 which highlighted the need to address emotional health and resilience of children and young people at a local level”.


Karen Hillis, Service Manager with AMH MensSana commented: “The Growing a Healthy, Positive Me’ was a great initiative for Action Mental Health to be a part of, and it was an excellent example of collaborative working between the partner agencies of the Larne and Carrickfergus Locality Planning Group, Action Mental Health as well as all the schools and children involved.”

Baby Basics – Antrim and Newtownabbey


Baby Basics is a volunteer-led project aiming to support new mothers and families who are struggling to meet the financial and practical burden of looking after a new baby. We provide much needed essentials and equipment to mothers and families who are unable to provide these items for themselves; including but not limited to teenage mums, people seeking asylum and women fleeing domestic abuse and trafficking.

We operate on a referral only system. Working with midwives, health visitors and other professional groups to provide support directly where it is most needed, Baby Basics volunteers collect, sort and package a ‘Moses Basket’ of clothing, toiletries and essential baby equipment as an attractive gift to new mothers.

The Antrim and Newtownabbey branch of Baby Basics is operated by the United Parish of Christ Church (Ballynure) and St John’s (Ballyclare).  Our base is in Christ Church hall in Ballynure.

If you would like further information on this service, please contact Frances Wilson on 07834 544802.

Ask for ANI scheme for victims of domestic abuse

Ask for ANI is a codeword scheme developed by the Home Office to provide a discreet way for victims of domestic abuse to signal in their local pharmacy that they need help 

Victims of domestic abuse will be able to use the codeword ANI in pharmacies to let staff know that they require an emergency police response or help contacting a helpline or specialist support service. Participating pharmacies will ensure that all staff are aware of the codeword and have completed training on how to respond if someone asks for ANI.

Participating pharmacies will display posters in their window and around their premises to let customers know that they can approach their staff to seek help.

When a victim uses the codeword or asks for help, the member of staff will ask the victim to accompany them to the consultation room. They will then check whether the victim is in danger and wants the police to be called. If so, the staff member will offer the use of a phone to dial 999 or make the call on the victim’s behalf.

If the victim is not in an emergency situation, the staff member will support the victim to contact a national domestic abuse helpline or local support service. They may also contact the police via 101.

Detective Inspector Avine Kelly is the Ask for ANI champion for the Police Service of Northern Ireland. She says: “It is my hope that this scheme offers a safe way for victims of domestic abuse to contact emergency services so that they can begin to improve their lives, especially in these times of Covid where many sufferers may be even more isolated than ever. So if you hear the word ANI you will know that the call relates to domestic violence. Please record on the log that the Ask the ANI codeword has been used.

“If you need any more information at all on this scheme then please just get in touch with me.”

Ask for ANI – Information for non-participating pharmacies
Ask for ANI – Police Call Handlers Briefing
Ask for ANI – Force Champion Action List
Ask for ANI – Local Partners Briefing
Ask for ANI – Northern Ireland Pharmacies

Family Connections Good News Stories

South and East Belfast Family Connections have been supporting families throughout the pandemic through a range of programmes and individual support. We have tailored our service delivery to respond to the expressed needs of families and have used creative and accessible methods to engage with parents.


Parents Wellbeing Group

As we went into Lockdown 3 we noticed that many parents were really struggling with their own stress levels and wellbeing. We responded by developing a Parent Wellbeing Group which was delivered online. 20 parents from across South & East Belfast registered for the programme. 


In the group parent were encouraged to take time for themselves and to explore their own stress levels, thoughts & feelings. Parents were able to support each other, share tips for self-care and wellbeing and have a bit of craic together! The activities were tailored to the parent’s interests and included meditation, yoga, self-care bingo and a wellbeing scavenger hunt.


One parent reported “My house is calmer, I’m remembering to take 5 minutes to breathe through the day.  It’s really good to have this group just for me and to see that I’m not the only one feeling the way I do, but it’s also giving me wee easy ideas to make myself feel better”


Awesome At Home

Parent of children with additional needs reported that they were finding lockdown particularly challenging. In response to this we developed the Awesome at Home programme which aimed to provide much needed support to these families.


We used the Five to Thrive Autism approach (KCA) as our evidence base for developing the programme. This approach provides five building blocks (RESPOND, CUDDLE, RELAX, PLAY, TALK) for promoting healthy brain development and positive relationships. It is particularly suitable for use with children with ASD and speech and language delay. We also incorporated resources from Oakwood and Middletown Autism support services.


The programme was delivered remotely. Parents received a weekly video and top tips newsletter as well as ideas for simple, fun and easy activities to support children’s language, behaviour, attention, sensory needs and social and emotional development at home. They also received  a weekly phone call to provide individual, tailored support and check in on wellbeing.

The course is now being rolled out for the fourth time in South and East Belfast and a total of 43 parents have participated.


Parent feedback

“We have got a better insight into how our child’s brain develops and this has enabled us to make the appropriate actions and reactions, as well as giving us a better understanding behind our child’s actions and behaviours”

“The course has given us more ideas for play that will help to encourage our child’s holistic development. We have also gained insight into ways to help promote communication and language development”

“I learned about ‘emotion coaching’ to help name my child’s emotions to hopefully help them to understand their own emotions and help me understand how they are feeling”

“The strategies have really helped me, starting from interaction to taking note of detailed changes in him and a more positive response from me”