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.

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

Community Wellbeing and Resilience Programme

Community Wellbeing and Resilience Programme

The Community Wellbeing and Resilience Programme has been designed for staff and volunteers working in the community sector who have been involved on the frontline of the Covid-19 pandemic response.

The project is a partnership between Inspire Wellbeing, who will deliver the sessions and NICVA who will provide the administrative support for accessing the pre-recorded and live webinars.  It is funded by the Department for Communities.

This FREE Programme allows participants to access a range of wellbeing sessions.

Tier 1, Wellbeing in Your World, is a series of six Pre-recorded Webinars suitable for all levels of staff and volunteers. The Pre-recorded Webinars will be available from Friday 18 December until Friday 19 February 2021, so participants can re-visit them at any point up until then.  

Tier 2 offers three Live Webinars which will focus on building and maintaining positive mental health.  Each Live Webinar will last 2 hours on 12th, 18th and 29th January. Tier 2 also offers a six week course of Live Webinars –  Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Programme beginning on 11th February.

Lastly, Tier 3 comprises Resources which offer specific services and resources designed to support ongoing mental health and wellbeing.

Please register using the links below.  

Pre-recorded Webinars – Wellbeing in Your World

Topic Date Available Time
Stress and Anxiety 18/12/20 – 19/2/21 30 mins
Getting a Good Night’s Sleep 18/12/20 – 19/2/21 30 mins
Alcohol, Other Drugs and Coping with Covid-19 18/12/20 – 19/2/21 1.5 hours
Anti-Stigma and Mental Health Awareness 18/12/20 – 19/2/21 1 hour
Mental Health and Stigma Awareness for Managers 18/12/20- 19/2/21 30 mins
Burnout 18/12/20 – 19/2/21 10 mins


Live Webinars – Building and Maintaining Positive Mental Health

Topic Date Time Facilitator
Introduction to Mindfulness (2 hours) Tuesday 12 January 2021 2pm – 4pm Frank Liddy
Positive Mental Health (2 hours) Monday 18 January 2021 10am – 12noon Julie Hill
Managers Promoting Positive Mental Health (2 hours) Friday 29 January 2021 10am – 12noon Julie Hill


Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Programme (6 week course of Live Webinars)

Session Date Time
Session One Thursday 11 February 2pm – 3pm
Session Two Tuesday 16 February 2pm – 3pm
Session Three Thursday 25 February 2pm – 3pm
Session Four Tuesday 2 March 2pm – 3pm
Session Five Tuesday 9 March 2pm – 3pm
Session Six Tuesday 16 March 2pm – 3pm

Facilitator: Frank Liddy


Inspire Support Hub

Participants will be given access to the Inspire Support Hub for one year to allow for more on-going mental health, resilience and wellbeing support. With just a few simple steps you can create your personal profile and start using the support hub. Just follow the steps detailed here to get started.

TQUK Level 1 Award in Mental Health Awareness (RQF)

NICVA is delighted to be able to offer accreditation for anyone working in mental health or wanting to learn more about what is mental health and well being. This is an opportunity to gain recognition of existing skills and understanding of mental health but also for anyone that wants an introductory level of understanding in Mental Health Awareness. Learners will research what mental health means, the effects mental health can have on individuals and on society, the current responses to mental health and the relationship between cultural diversity and mental health issues.

The pre-recorded and live webinars included in the Community Wellbeing and Resilience Programme will help the learner to meet some of the requirements of the level 1 qualification.

This course is available for self study anytime that suits you, so register today. The closing date for completion of the accreditation booklet is 26 February 2021.

Covid Wellbeing Northern Ireland Online Hub

The website offers a comprehensive range of information, self-help guides and ways to access help to support your mental health and wellbeing. It was created by CovidWellBeingNI a partnership of 15 leading mental health and wellbeing charities and the Healthy Living Centre Alliance representing 28 Healthy Living Centres alongside the Public Health Agency, Department of Health and the Department for Communities. The focus is on promoting positive mental health and wellbeing during and after the Covid19 pandemic.

A useful guide to Mental and emotional wellbeing resources

This website from the Health and Social Care Board offers a useful guide to mental and emotional wellbeing resources.  It also offers access to a Psychological First Aid Course.