Category Archives: News

Celebrating Support for Working Parents

Parenting NI partnered with Allen & Overy to mark the annual Parenting Week with a business breakfast event focusing on support for parents in the workplace on Tuesday 22nd October.

It’s often said that being a parent is the most important job you will ever have, but for a lot of parents it’s not their only job which can make striking a balance between work and family life difficult. More than half admit to feeling “burnt out” with work as the primary cause.

Local parenting support charity, Parenting NI, have been working with businesses across Northern Ireland to provide workplace support for parents and are delighted to be working with Allen & Overy in showcasing good practice in family friendly policies.

Director for Training and Development at Parenting NI, Maria Rogan said with the amount of different pressures on modern families it’s important that there’s a shift in workplace culture,

“Employers who support and respond to the needs of working parents are helping to shape a workplace for an evolving workforce. We are delighted to be working with Allen & Overy, who have been named in the top 30 Family Friendly Employers 2019, to highlight how supporting your parent employees is beneficial to business.”

Barry O’Donnell, IT Manager with Allen & Overy, was supported by his employer throughout his adoption process.

“Allen & Overy were on the journey with me from the beginning of the process right through to the end, which in our case was 41 months!” Barry explained, “I got great support from both my management team and HR. One to one support and flexible working helped to ease the pressure and allowed me to focus on the fostering and adoption process.

“They continually kept in touch to ensure I had everything I needed. They helped me access Shared Parental Leave and worked closely with my husband’s employer, making a complex process easier to navigate. They also ensured that the process was reviewed to support others who may follow the same path in the future.

“Upon returning to work I’m still supported by the company.  I have access to a programme of health and wellbeing initiatives and the Allen & Overy Family Network hosts regular seminars and events like this one to support parents. My employer’s support has been invaluable.”

It is hoped that the event helped open up a wider conversation about the importance of support and flexibility for working parents at every stage of their parenting journey. Further information about the support Parenting NI can offer employers can be found here.

Parenting NI’s Big Birthday Bash

High Sheriff of Belfast, Alderman Tommy Sandford and Parenting NI Ambassador, Pip Jaffa join the charity in celebrating 40 years of supporting parents in Northern Ireland, with Parenting NI staff Maeve Bouvier, Lauren Walls, Emma Lyttle and Elaine Hanna. 40th birthday cake created by students of North West Regional College.

Parenting NI were delighted to be joined by families at Oh Yeah Music Centre’s Acoustic Picnic on Saturday 12th October to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the charity.

Parenting NI was established in 1979 by a group of dedicated volunteers to support parents in Northern Ireland and has continued to grow ever since, delivering a range of high quality services which have been specifically developed and tailored to meet the needs of parents.

The charity say that the continued demand for services and the range of pressures on families highlights the need for support for parents is vital. Charlene Brooks, Chief Executive of Parenting NI said,

Research Parenting NI carried out last year found that 82% of survey participants said they do not feel parents get enough support. Parents’ answers indicated that they felt that society was not very supportive of those in a parenting role; so during the 40th year celebrations and upcoming Parenting Week, Parenting NI are focusing on the important role parents play in their children’s lives. This celebration event was all about giving parents the recognition they deserve for the amazing job they do every day, and highlighting that support is available when times are tough.”

Parenting NI Ambassador, Pip Jaffa, dedicated 37 years to the charity having been Chief Executive for many years before retiring in 2016. Speaking of the event and reflecting on the achievements of the charity Pip said, 

“It was wonderful to see so many parents and children enjoying themselves and marking this milestone for Parenting NI. The organisation has far surpassed all of my expectations from when I first got involved as a volunteer. I am incredibly proud to see Parenting NI continuing the mission of accessible services and support to meet the needs of those in a parenting role throughout Northern Ireland.” 

High Sheriff of Belfast, Alderman Tommy Sandford said: “I was delighted to join Parenting NI at their 40th Anniversary celebrations in the Oh Yeah centre. The work of Parenting NI has been invaluable in providing key support services to thousands of families. The dedication and hard work of the staff and volunteers in helping others can’t be underestimated and I want to congratulate everyone associated with the charity on reaching this amazing milestone.”

Parenting NI partnered with Oh Yeah Music Centre’s Acoustic Picnic in Belfast where families enjoyed live music, activities, games and crafts. Youth Engagement Assistant at Oh Yeah Music Centre, Caoimhe O’Connell, said it was a pleasure to host the Parenting NI birthday party,

“The Oh Yeah team are always striving to get young families involved with live music and the arts and Acoustic Picnic is an excellent way of doing just that. Coupling with Parenting NI this month meant that we had an wider pool of families to reach and as a result we had a packed event. It’s a great chance for parents to have a chat with each other over a cup of coffee and know that the kids are being entertained in a safe environment, they can also get involved by getting down to one of our large floor games or have a dance along to the hits provided by Over the Hill Collective. Not only is Acoustic Picnic a great way of keeping the kids busy, it is also a valuable resource for parents who can bring food into the event for the families and spend the day immersed in the arts, completely free of charge.”

Parenting NI will be celebrating Parenting Week from 21st – 25th October. You can find out more about the week and support services at www.parentingni.org

Parenting NI Launch Big Parenting Survey 2019

Last year Parenting NI launched their Big Parenting Survey, a first of it’s kind study into the realities of parenting in Northern Ireland.  The 2018 survey had over 1,000 responses from parents, providing valuable insights about the struggles, hopes and successes of parents from every end of the community. 

The charity have used the findings from the previous year to influence the focus of the 2019 survey, which will explore the role and influence of technology on parenting. Chris Eisenstadt, Policy and Research Officer at Parenting NI said,

“Parents told us in last year’s survey that technology was the biggest challenge they faced, with social media being the second. Parents also felt confused, left behind and worried about the impact of technology. We also heard stories of technology being a help and useful resource for parents, therefore for this year’s survey we wanted to take a closer look into parent’s views on technology in addition to their parenting experiences generally.” 

The 2019 Big Parenting Survey was launched today at Belfast City Hall by Alliance Belfast City Councillor and Parent Champion, Sian Mullholland. Sian encouraged parents to take part and highlighted how important it is for parents to share their views,

“I am delighted to help launch this year’s Big Parenting Survey. As a parent, I know firsthand that this a fantastic vehicle to have your voice and opinions heard on topics that really matter to parents and families. As someone who works in the field of youth work and child protection, I’m only too aware that technology and keeping children safe online is a huge worry and priority for parents.

The Big Parenting Survey will help to identify the needs of parents to ensure they’re kept as up to date as possible with tools and techniques to keep their children safe in a world of technology that is constantly changing and evolving.”

This year Parenting NI celebrate their 40th Anniversary, the charity has been supporting parents in Northern Ireland since 1979 and over the years has become the trusted voice of parents. An important part of advocating for parents is listening to their needs and concerns, therefore Parenting NI are encouraging as many parents as possible to take part in order to gain an understanding of a wide range of parenting experiences. Parents can participate in the survey online via this link: https://bps2019.questionpro.com.

 

 

Dads ‘Take the Time’ for Wellbeing at Derry Residential


A group of 21 dads attended the Dads Project residential, with speakers Conor McCafferty and Glenn Hinds. 

The Dads Project hosted a residential for separated fathers in St Columb’s Park House, Derry over the weekend.

A group of over 20 dads from across Northern Ireland attended a weekend of activities which focused on father’s wellbeing ahead of Men’s Health Week. Men’s Health Week runs from 10th June to 16th June with the theme ‘Make the Time. Take the Time.’

The Dads Project, which local charity Parenting NI lead with thanks to funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, organised the event to offer men an opportunity to not only access emotional support but also to get together and enjoy a range of talks and activities.

The dads were actively involved in planning and putting on activities across the weekend, with Cuthy Diamond leading some exercise between sessions and Gary Nash performing music in the evening.

Cahir Murray, the Dads Project Coordinator, said,

“It was wonderful to be able to gather together over the weekend and give the men space to explore the positives of being a dad in Northern Ireland’s society. We wanted to help dads build up their understanding of their value and the important role they have as fathers.

Over the course of the weekend we also took time to reflect on our wellbeing which many men struggle with. I hope that the dads have come away from the experience feeling better equipped to cope with the many challenges life throws at them whether they live with their children or not.”

In an effort to further highlight positive images of fathers, the Dads Project also have a photo exhibition titled ‘Men as Dads’ in the Verbal Arts Centre. Local photographer Mura McKinney took on the project to help celebrate dads as positive role models and the unique contribution they make to their children’s lives. The exhibition runs from Monday 10th June until Wednesday 19th June.

Parenting NI would like to thank People Plus and SDC Contractors for their support in making the weekend possible. To find out more about the Dads Project and how to get involved visit the webpage

World Children’s Day Celebration

On World Children’s Day – Wednesday 20th November – the Commissioner for Children and Young People, Koulla Yiasouma, will host a day of celebration at W5 Belfast to mark the 30th Anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

NICCY aims to bring 1,500 children and young people of ALL ages together for a CHILDREN’S AND YOUNG PEOPLE’S SUMMIT on this important day. It will be a mixture of child rights focussed activities and fun, with participants being able to explore the 250 interactive exhibits in W5’s four exhibition areas, including the:

  • Spacebase;
  • Climbit;
  • Go;
  • See/Do; and
  • MED-Lab exhibits.

For administrative and registration purposes, groups will be allocated an arrival time during the morning (from 9.30am) of 20th November and will be assigned specific times for specific activities.  Beyond these, groups are free to stay and experience W5 until closing time at 5pm. It is envisaged that each group could have a minimum stay of at least 4 hours at W5.

Entrance to the event is FREE!   NICCY also aim to make available a number travel bursaries.

Formal registration for the day will follow at later date along with further details on activities but please feel free to confirm an expression of interest by emailing participation@niccy.org with the following details:

  1. Group name:
  2. Group address:
  3. Contact name:
  4. Contact email address:
  5. Contact telephone number:
  6. Potential numbers and age group(s):

Confirming an expression of interest will ensure early notice of the formal registration process.

Parenting NI Statement Regarding the Regional Parenting Helpline

Earlier in the year, Parenting NI was extremely saddened to learn that we would lose the funding for the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) Regional Parenting Helpline contract (which includes Face to Face Support). Parenting NI identified the need for a parents helpline in 1979 and have been providing the service ever since. Now in our 40th year of delivering the service this news was devastating.

The good news for parents is however that the service is being continued. Children in Northern Ireland, the regional umbrella organisation for the children’s sector will be delivering the Regional Parenting Support Helpline from 1st April onwards.

Whilst the loss of funding to provide this service is extremely disappointing, it is by no means the end for Parenting NI. We are passionate about supporting parents and will continue on our mission to provide a range of accessible services and support to meet the needs of those in a parenting role across Northern Ireland.

We are pleased to confirm that from 1st April we will continue to provide a freephone support service for parents (on the same number 0808 8010 722) as an access point to our range of services. We will also continue to deliver our range of parenting programmes, family support services and regional projects including the Dads Project and Families Together. Parenting NI also continues to lead the way in consulting with parents to ensure their parents’ voices are heard at every level in order to influence policy, planning and service delivery. We are also very excited about expanding our range of resources for parents, particularly in terms of online and digital platforms as we continue to develop of Parenting Support App.

Parenting NI will continue to work with partners in order to deliver real diversity and choice for parents when it comes to what support they need. We will also continue to work in partnership with statutory and other sectors to promote engagement with parents and build on our range of accredited and non-accredited training and workshops for professionals working with parents. 

We hope to make this transition as smooth as possible for service users. From the 1st April freephone support will be available on 0808 8010 722 Monday to Thursday 9:30 am – 3:30 pm and Friday 9:30 am – 12:30 pm.

We would like to thank you all for your continued support of the work of Parenting NI. We look forward to continuing to support parents and making our vision of a future where parenting is highly valued a reality in Northern Ireland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parents have little hope for Children’s future in Northern Ireland

Leading parenting support charity have launched the findings from a first of its kind study, revealing the realities of parenting in Northern Ireland.

A survey carried out with 1,192 parents across Northern Ireland in the latter part of 2018 has found that parents are worried about their children’s future. 66% of parents said they were more worried than hopeful about parenting in the future. Parents overwhelmingly identified more challenges than opportunities for their children, with their main concerns being the impact of technology and social media on young people, mental health and the cost of childcare.

Many parents also expressed frustration at the current political uncertainty; they conveyed concern that important decisions are not being made which is having a deleterious impact on health and education budgets. This in turn is putting more pressure on families, with long waiting lists for services and parents being asked to plug the funding gap in schools.

Another worrying figure is that 82% of survey participants said they do not feel parents get enough support. Parents’ answers indicated that they felt that society was not very supportive of those in a parenting role and that more could be done to make parents aware of the services that are available to them.

Jenny Smithson, a mother to 3 daughters, spoke of her parenting experiences,

“I am generally an optimist, but even the most optimistic parent has concerns. And even the most confident parent has moments when they think - I’m nowhere near up to this task.

I have concerns about keeping my children safe online and worry about the impact that social media might have. I hope that it won’t shape my girls identity - that the number of likes/followers or whatever else won’t become more important to them than life outside the screen. I also worry about the impact this has on young people’s mental health and trying to teach my children how to deal with their emotions is something that I have found really challenging.

So much of the concerns of a parent are navigating new fears, things that didn’t exist when we were kids, or maybe even the same things, that now seem very different when it is our children facing them.  The world may in many ways seem more daunting, and unstable than it has been, and in general it seems as though hope is at a low ebb. We must not put our heads in the sand.”

Charlene Brooks, Chief Executive at Parenting NI said,

“The findings from this report are deeply concerning. Parents are telling us that they have serious concerns about their children’s future in Northern Ireland and have little hope that it will get better any time soon. We are calling on those in policy making / commissioning roles to give parents a reason to be hopeful again. A lot of the issues parents are concerned about cannot be addressed without a government; we need to have decisions made on policies and strategies that will work to the benefit of families in Northern Ireland.”

Full Report

Read the full report here

Executive Summary

Look at the key findings from the report

For more information...

For media enquiries contact Parenting NI Marketing and Communications Officer Emma Lyttle on 028 9031 0891.

Parenting Week 2018 – Power of Parent Child Relationships

Of the many different relationships people form over the course of their lives, the relationship between a parent and their child is among the most important.

Parenting NI are contacted by thousands of parents each year, about a variety of issues including concerns around children’s digital activity and video gaming, separation, and child to parent violence. As challenges for families increase and become more complex in today’s society, the parenting support charity want to use this year’s Parenting Week to highlight how valuable positive parent-child relationships are in improving outcomes for children.

Strong parent-child relationships play a vital role in all areas of children’s development and can have a lasting influence throughout a child’s life, including better mental health, finding it easier to make friends, better educational attainment and being more resilient.

Parenting NI CEO, Charlene Brooks said,

“We want to assure parents that no matter what challenges they are facing they should never underestimate the impact of the positive relationship they have with their children.

Relationships shape how our children see the world, teaching them about communication, emotions and how to behave. Parenting NI want to encourage parents to get involved in Parenting Week to celebrate the how powerful their relationship is; helping to raise happy, healthy children.”

To launch the Parenting Week programme of events, Parenting NI brought together over 240 professionals and practitioners to Girdwood Community Hub for an event with Dr Karen Treisman, focusing on the importance of parent-child relationships.

Speaking in support of the week, Dr Treisman said,

“We need to see beyond challenging behaviours and connect with the person behind them. It’s vital that we keep relationships at the heart of supporting parents to help them be the best support for their children.”

Schools throughout Northern Ireland will also be taking part in the week with various resources and activities being provided to teachers to help explore the relationships and communication in the classroom.

Graham Gault, Principal at Maghaberry Primary School explains why he was delighted to have his school involved,

“We know that children from homes in which parents adopt effective approaches to managing behaviour and development are better able to cope with the normal struggles of life and set appropriate boundaries for themselves. The resources and support provided by Parenting NI have been very useful in helping our parents reflect on how important relationships in the home are in creating the context in which children can flourish.”

Parenting NI and Bank of Ireland UK have their Eye on the Ball for Working Parents

Left to right: Gail Toal, Bank of Ireland UK, Charlene Brooks, Parenting NI and Simon Fitzpatrick, Irish Football Association. Parenting NI partner with Bank of Ireland UK to host a special event at the National Stadium focusing on workplace support for parents.

It’s often said that being a parent is the most important job you will ever have; but for many parents it’s not their only job, and the challenge of trying to find a balance between work and family life can be difficult.

A breakfast networking seminar will take place in the Danny Blanchflower Room at the National Stadium on Monday 22nd October which will explore how businesses can support staff with work life balance and engage them on issues relating to gender equality and diversity.

Award winning ex-CNN journalist and author of ground breaking book All In, Josh Levs will be keynote speaker at the event. When Levs was denied fair parental leave by his employer after his child was born, he fought back and won. In the process he became a leading advocate for modern families, now working with corporations and organisations to build policies that support men as equal caregivers, a crucial step towards ensuring equal career opportunities to women.

Parenting NI CEO, Charlene Brooks, said with all the pressures on modern families it’s time for a change of perceptions and workplace culture.

“We believe it’s important for workplaces to move with the times when it comes to family friendly policies. Employers who support and respond to the needs of working parents are helping to shape a workplace for an evolving workforce.

“We are encouraged at the number of employers Parenting NI are working with in Northern Ireland who help provide support to their parent employees. The rewards for businesses who do so include a more productive, engaged, motivated workforce, reduced absenteeism and employers are more likely to be successful at recruiting and retaining staff.”

Charlene Brooks explained that Parenting NI hopes the event will open up more conversation in businesses about how they can help ease work life balance stresses for families in Northern Ireland.

“We are particularly excited to be hosting this event with Josh Levs and our partners Bank of Ireland and Citi. Parenting NI hope that the event will help start a wider conversation within more organisations about offering more support and flexibility for their parent employees, not only to benefit children and families but also to the benefit of their own businesses.”

Ian Sheppard, Managing Director Northern Ireland at Bank of Ireland UK, said: “Bank of Ireland UK are delighted to be supporting our partners, Parenting NI, with this exciting ‘Make Parenting Work’ networking seminar. As an organisation, our purpose is to enable our customers, colleagues and communities to thrive. At the heart of this purpose is our commitment to Inclusion & Diversity and to foster an inclusive working environment where all colleagues are enabled to reach their full potential. Collaborating with Parenting NI, a leading organisation for supporting parents since 1979, has given us the tools to support our parent employees through a range of needs-led sessions.”

Help for Parents at their Fingertips as New App is Launched

Parenting charity, Parenting NI, have launched a brand new app which will give parents immediate access to parenting support.

Thanks to support from the Building Change Trust and Techies in Residence, Parenting NI have collaborated with Derry~Londonderry based firm, Kippie, to create an app which will offer tips and support to parents.

The innovative Parent Support App is free for parents to download and offers a range of tips on topics such as emotions, behaviour, digital parenting and friendships. It has links to information such as what parent support programmes are available and a direct link to the charity’s freephone Support Line.

Charlene Brooks, Chief Executive at Parenting NI said,

“We are excited to be able to launch the first stage of our Parent Support App this week. We recognize that it can be difficult for parents to reach out for help, and we are therefore delighted to have created, with our partners Kippie, an engaging piece of technology which makes it easy for parents to access support.

Parenting NI are looking forward to seeing the future development of the app, including the introduction of interactive quizzes and games for parents to explore topics such as mental health with their children. We believe there is huge potential with this platform to further expand the support currently on offer and hope that it will go some way to helping reduce the stigma associated with parents seeking support.”

Speaking on the app launch and the Techies in Residence Programme, Paul Braithwaite, Programme Leader at Building Change Trust said,

“This app from Parenting NI exemplifies what the Techies in Residence programme is for – helping charities and social enterprises to harness digital technology for the benefit of their service users. As a parent myself I know that having such practical information and support literally at your fingertips will be invaluable. We’re also delighted to be able to announce that the Techies in Residence programme will be continuing for a fourth year in 2019 with funding from Comic Relief and support from the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland – we’ll be opening for applications very soon.”

The Parenting NI Parent Support App is now available to download for free on Android and will be available on App Store later in the year.