Weir welcomes reopening of Sure Start and youth services

Weir welcomes reopening of Sure Start and youth services

Date published: 25 March 2021

Education Minister Peter Weir has welcomed the phased return of Sure Start and youth services.

Update on Youth and Early Years

The Executive has given approval for initial steps to be taken in resuming some early years programmes, including Sure Start, and youth services allowing the gradual re-opening of programmes to support children and young people who may be facing disadvantage.

Welcoming the Executive’s decision today, the Minister said:

“The COVID pandemic has created many pressures on families and it is clear that these pressures are having greatest impact where disadvantage already exists.  I have therefore been focussed on the reopening of vital programmes such as Sure Start and the Pathway Fund which provide much needed support to children.

“The restart of services must, of course, be balanced with the risk of transmitting the COVID virus.  Therefore, services will initially be open where children only are attending.  We will, of course, seek to reopen all services, as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Turning to the provision of youth services, the Minister continued:

“There is no doubt that the current restrictions are having a negative impact on many young people. Issues such as growing mental health problems, increased drug taking and anti-social behaviour are of great concern.

“My proposal is to take the first steps in a phased and carefully managed reopening of youth services.”

The Minister concluded:

“It will be for the Executive as a whole to consider any further phased re-opening of these areas as part of the ongoing review of restrictions.”

Notes to editors: 

1. The first step to a phased return of generic youth work will involve both statutory and voluntary youth work settings operating in line with any overarching restrictions permitted within educational settings relating to outdoor or indoor gatherings, group sizes, social distancing, face coverings and hand washing. 

2. In addition to detached (working where young people choose to congregate) and outreach youth work (engages young people with a view to support them in youth work centres) will recommence.

3. The Education Authority is leading on Youth Restart and will be publishing more details for youth work providers on its Youth Online platform ( link opens in a new window / tab) )

4. Follow us on Twitter @Education_NI and our Facebook page, Department of Education Northern Ireland.

5. Media enquiries to the Department of Education Press Office at:

6. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

You should not travel in or out of Northern Ireland except where it is essential to do so

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You should not travel in or out of Northern Ireland except where it is essential to do so.

If you are arriving into Northern Ireland from within the Common Travel Area (the Republic of Ireland, Great Britain, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands) and you plan to remain here for at least 24 hours, you must self-isolate upon arrival for 10 days in the same way as international arrivals. 

If you are arriving into Northern Ireland from within the Common Travel Area to provide health or social care, or to provide an emergency service, you are not subject to these requirements. However you should consult with your employer before travelling or attending work, who will then advise you on the best course of action.

Further guidance is available here.


Following an increase in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, additional restrictions have been introduced for people living in Northern Ireland. These are aimed at limiting the chances for the virus to spread between households.

You should not allow people you do not live with into your home, except for  for bubbling with one other household and certain other exemptions.

Everyone can also help stop COVID-19 spreading by:

  • Avoiding touching your face and washing your hands as soon as you get home.
  • If you go outside stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people.
  • Wearing a face covering in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not possible.

Remember, you can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms.

A covid-19 symptom checker is available here.

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VCSE COVID Recovery Fund reopening for applications January 2021

The Department for Communities are reopening the Voluntary, Community and Social Economy (VCSE) COVID Recovery Fund for applications on 18 January 2021.

The scheme which closed on 11 December 2020, will reopen for applications under Theme 3 of the Fund (Future PPE and Sundry Equipment needs) for a period of two weeks from 18 January 2021 to 29 January 2021.

Importantly to help ensure that VCSE organisations have the PPE required to continue service delivery, the maximum award from this part of the Fund which was previously capped at £2,000, will rise to £5,000. Organisations who were previously successful in applying to this element of the fund can reapply to receive up to £5k (e.g. if an organisation was awarded £2k from the 1st round of applications, they can apply for a further £3k).

This opportunity for groups to make new or additional applications will help provide the Sector with the opportunity to plan ahead and ensure their premises are ready to deliver services as soon as Covid restrictions are relaxed.

As before, the Fund will be distributed by Co-operation Ireland in partnership with Rural Community Network.

see more here