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How are our children doing in South Armagh?

2010-01-14

A new initiative has been set up in the South Armagh area to measure the health and well being of children and young people and to bring agencies together to plan servicesto create improvements in children’s lives. Known as the South Armagh Locality Planning Group, the initiative is being supported by European Union INTERREG IVA funding secured by Co-operation and Working Together (CAWT), the cross border health services partnership. The Southern Area Children and Young People’s Committee selected the South Armagh area to be one of four sites in the border region in which local agencies and communities will be supported to plan services for their children together.

The European Union INTERREG IVA funding will support a part-time community development worker to be employed by the project. It will also support the participation of a range of key stakeholders including children, young people and families in the South Armagh area. The South Armagh Locality Planning Group will involve the major statutory agencies which deliver services locally such as health, housing, education, and training. Youth groups, community organisations and voluntary children’s services expertise will also be engaged.

Speaking at a recent workshop in the Mullaghbawn Community Centre to plan the setting up of the initiative in the South Armagh area, Ann Godfrey, Children’s Service Planner for the Health and Social Care Board said: “Improvements in the lives of children and young people is a priority for families, communities and agencies working with children and young people. However, by collectively agreeing the improvements we want to see and then working together to achieve them, we can be more effective.”

Una Walsh, a Community Development Worker with the Women & Family Health Initiative, spoke about the importance of community involvement complementing the use of statistical information. She said, ”Community involvement will be crucial to the success of the South Armagh Locality Planning Group. The statistics available are a valuable resource but will require local knowledge to design and implement programmes which will significantly improve the lives of the young people in South Armagh.”

At the workshop facts and figures were presented on how children and young people are doing in the South Armagh area against the higher-level outcomes set out in the Northern Ireland’s Children Strategy and compared to other areas in the district and across Northern Ireland. This included statistics on teenage birth rates, deprivation, lone parents, income supported households and educational achievement. Participants then had an opportunity to discuss the benefits and challenges of working together to improve outcomes for children and young people, the support they would require and the next steps in setting up the South Armagh Locality Planning Group. Further information on this new initiative can be obtained from the Project Manager, Mary Haughey at tel. no. (028) 3741 4643.

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