To date we have had 210 families refer themselves to the Early Years Project in the Martin Centre, Ballygomartin Road. Our team consists of fourteen project workers, one team leader and one receptionist, so we are kept very busy. We have initiated a number of activities for our clients. These include:
Swimming Group - 11 adults and 12 children
Play Session - 6 adults and 7 children
After School Club - 6 adults and 39 children
We also provide creche facilities for mums so that they can attend a range of classes. These include Craft Classes, Cooking on a Budget, talks on issues such as that on Breast Awareness (Action Cancer), Healthy Eating and Diet and also Athsma in Children. Additionally we provide a drop-in facility every day to allow mums to meet casually and have a cup of tea and a chat.
On Thursdays we have a support group for mums who suffer from post natal depression and have just started their own support group for parents of children with special needs, a facility which is greatly required in our area. This need was identified through our home visits work were one of the team was working with a family whose little girl has been diagnosed as having a genetic disorder and, consequently having special needs.
The project worker visits this family once a week to help the mum carry out physiotherapy exercises on the child. Sometimes children respond better to an outsider when it comes to doing tasks which they do not always enjoy. The child has built up a relationship with the worker and looks forward to her visits.
Although the project worker was there to listen to this mum talk and over her fears for her child's future, we felt it would be more beneficial if mums such as these could discuss their concerns with other mums in the same situation as themselves. We have just had the first meeting of the group and the mums have agreed to meet every fortnight. Everyone seemed delighted with how the first meeting progressed. This is just a small example of how we work with families and try to meet these needs to the best of our ability.