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Building connections to strengthen families: Highlights from the Reaching Out Supporting Families conference

‘What families really need is flexible, practical, social and emotional support.’
Sandra McNamee

‘Rethinking family support: building connections to strengthen families’ was the theme of the 2021 Reaching Out, Supporting Families conference we hosted on September 30th.

During this lively and informative morning celebrating the success of the Reaching Out, Supporting Families Programme, we heard first-hand from the 36 organisations involved in the Programme and the families who benefitted from their support. If you were unable to join us on the day, you can find a recording of the conference here.

Watch an animated introduction to the Reaching Out, Supporting Families Programme.

Our CEO Inez Bailey opened the conference, followed by Sandra McNamee from the board of the National Lottery Community Fund, Northern Ireland. Ministers Declan Kearney and Gary Middleton from the Northern Ireland Executive Office spoke about the importance of partnership working and supporting children to get the best start in life.

Dr. Jennifer Hanratty shared some key learning from the 36 projects involved in the Reaching Out, Supporting Families Programme. You can read the full learning paper here or access her slides below.

Hearing the voices of families

We heard from families who benefitted from the Reaching Out, Supporting Families Programme, and from practitioners involved in some of the 36 projects helping families facing adversity in Northern Ireland. In the video below you can hear some of the families share their own experiences of the Programme.

During the practitioner panel discussion we heard Heather Floyd and Cathal O'Doherty from Forthspring/Moving Up Moving On, Louise O’Kane and Debbie Williams from Women's Aid, Jade Irwin and Shauna Garvin from Fostering Network/Step Up Step Down give their views on how partnership working benefitted families.

In the second panel discussion of the day we heard from Paul Brush, Director of Youth and Early Years at the Department of Education, Moira Doherty from the Department of Communications, Marc Bailie from the Department of Health, Seamus McAleavey from NICVA and Sandra McNamee from The National Lottery Community Fund.

Key messages from the Reaching Out, Supporting Families Programme:

Thank you to all of the speakers and attendees for an engaging and informative event.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter to stay up to date with future outputs from this programme (@effectiveserv). To receive our quarterly Ezine sign up to our Mailing List, or for weekly insights, sign up to the Knowledge Exchange.