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Colin Sure Start, Belfast

Programmes & Activities

Additional Needs Support Service

At Colin Sure Start, we recognise each child as an individual; with different strengths abilities and interests. Therefore, we aim to offer each child a wide range of experiences and opportunities to meet their individual needs and further their development. We offer a wide range of services to support children and families in a way which is appropriate for them.

We have a dedicated additional needs team that provide individual support to families in a variety of ways. This can involve one to one play sessions, advice on activities suited to their child’s development and interests as well as signposting to other services that may be beneficial.

We offer our parent and child programme Play & Grow which is designed specifically for families who have concerns about their child’s development in areas such as speech and language, physical development, attention & listening, behaviour, social interaction etc. The programme is delivered over 8 weeks comprised of play and structured activities for the children as well as opportunities for parents to come together with sure start team members to learn more about development and how they can use this knowledge to plan goals for their children.

We also offer our Little Rainbows programme which offers pre-preschool play experiences for children, who for whatever reason may benefit from a smaller group and a higher child to adult ratio. This programme focuses on supporting the holistic development of each child using appropriate play and in partnership with parents.

At our Antenatal services include a range of programmes supporting mums and dads during pregnancy before birth. This will usually begin with a visit from our Health Practitioner, Julie Anne, who will call out to get you registered and discuss the programmes and supports on offer and get you signed up if interested. There are Antenatal Massage programmes, Antenatal swim class, workshops and information sessions that will give you information and insight into supporting your baby with the best possible start in life and also meeting other parents on the same journey.

Antenatal Services - Aims and Objectives

  1. Promote the physical, mental and social wellbeing of mother and baby.
  2. To provide information about pregnancy and labour to alleviate parental stress and anxiety.
  3. Increase confidence in parents to make an informed choice around feeding.
  4. To ensure parents are aware of early bonding, attachment and baby brain development.
  5. To encourage a healthy lifestyle and self-care during antenatal and postnatal period.
  6. Signpost to local community services and support networks.

The programmes are spread out throughout the year so that hopefully regardless of when you start you will get a good range of services offered. If you are interested in finding out more contact Julie Anne, our Health Practitioner on 90601417

Aquababes and Aquatoddlers

Aquababes and Aquatoddlers are 5-week swimming programmes for children and their parents. It is a great way to develop bonding between parent and child, as well as teaching water safety. The programme aims to

  • improve the physical development such as gross motor skills and muscle control
  • develop social skills and increase your child's confidence
  • build your confidence as a parent about taking your young child swimming
  • foster a healthy lifestyle and increase opportunity for physical exercise

Aquababes is suitable for children aged 10-12 months and Aquatoddlers from 13 months – 3 years. * Places are limited and booking is essential.

Baby Massage

Baby Massage develops the relationship between parent and baby and can help with circulation, digestion and growth. It’s a great way to relieve stress for parents and baby. Suitable for babies from 8 weeks of age. It is a programme delivered as part of our Postnatal Journey coming after the GroBrain programme. There is also a weaning workshop at the end of baby massage. 

The aims and objectives of Baby Massage is:

  • To enable parents to perform a practical baby massage routine confidently and safely
  • Increase awareness of the benefits of baby massage
  • To promote bonding and attachment with parent and baby
  • Provide an opportunity for parents to develop friendships and foster community involvement
  • To increase parental confidence
  • Parents to feel welcome and supported within their parenting journey


Baby Yoga

Baby Yoga is a relaxing and therapeutic activity that can have great benefits for babies, including easing colic, constipation and teething pain. It can help with sleep patterns and slow weight gain, strengthen the physical body and stimulating senses. Suitable for babies from 8 weeks of age.

The aims and objectives of Baby Yoga are:

  • To understand the benefits of baby yoga
  • To enable parents to learn safe and appropriate postnatal exercises with their baby in a supportive environment
  • To promote bonding and attachment with parent and baby.
  • To provide an opportunity to relax and encourage self-care for new parents
  • To increase parental confidence
  • Provide an opportunity for parents to develop friendships and foster community involvement
  • Parents to feel welcome and supported within their parenting journey

Baby Time Programme is a 5 session programme that forms part of the Colin Sure Start 0-1 Journey. It aims to:

  • provide opportunities to bond with your baby & support attachment
  • provide you with a wide range of activities you can recreate at home which will support your baby's brain development
  • support you to develop speech, language and communication skills with your baby
  • promote gross and fine motor development
  • enable you to develop relationships with other parents and benefit from peer support

Examples of activities you and your baby will participate in include: messy/sensory play with baby safe resources, rhythm, rhyme and story time activities, creating treasure baskets and hand and foot prints. This programme is suitable for babies from 6 months. Booking is necessary so if you are interested in registering for this programme or finding out more contact the Early Years Team on 90601417.

Breastfeeding Support Group – The Milky Way

Suitable for antenatal mothers and mothers who are breastfeeding or also feeding in other methods.  At the group our Health Practitioner offers support and advice to antenatal and breastfeeding mums but also on responsive bottle feeding. It is also a lovely way to meet other feeding mummies and share experiences about your new bundles of joy. The group meets weekly on a Wednesday in Colin Family Centre, Poleglass (on the Pembroke Loop Road, map link below) from 10.30-12.00. Our Health Practitioner can also offer you support and advice outside of the group and we have a Breastpump Lending service with 3 high quality pumps that can be borrowed free of charge. If you are interested in finding out information on Breastfeeding or responsive bottle feeding or any of our supports or groups please contact Julie Anne, our Health Practitioner on 90601417


Cook It!

Cook It! is a 5-week cooking programme for parents. Parents can learn about food groups, try different recipes and learn how to cook healthy, inexpensive meals from scratch. This is a fun interactive practical programme and will give parents confidence in cooking a variety of dishes. *Booking is essential, crèche places may be available within this programme.


Colin Sure Start organise a number of events throughout the year e.g. Oral Health, Safety in the Sun, Parents’ Week, Tooth Fairy Day, Health Fairs, Summer Scheme, Halloween and Christmas events. Keep an eye out on Facebook and in our latest newsletter for information on upcoming events.

Fathers Services

Colin Sure Start recognises the important role of fathers during the early years and the benefits that father involvement can have on outcomes for children in later life. We continue to encourage the uptake of fathers, grandfathers and male carers in Colin Sure Start services and programmes. We have a dedicated Fathers Worker who can offer support and advice, and who also delivers groups and activities specifically aimed at fathers/male carers. These include a Dads and Active Kids Group, Dads Cook It!, Fathers Aquababes, Dads specific parenting programmes e.g. Incredible Years, Fathers and Families, and a Colin Fathers Support Group. Check out our latest newsletter for what is currently on offer or contact us on 028 9060 1417.

GroBrain Programme

GroBrain is an evidence-based programme which our Family Support team are trained to deliver, and supports parents and carers with knowledge and information about their child's developing brain and how this development can be supported through positive interactions, communication and play. The programme is offered at the beginning of the postnatal journey with groups of parents giving a great starting point for the following programmes and insight for parents in giving their child strong foundations and the best start in life. 

The aims and objectives of the GroBrain programme are:

  • To promote bonding and attachment with parent and baby
  • To increase parents knowledge of baby brain development
  • To increase parents awareness of ‘Tuning in’ to babies’ cries and signals
  • Increase awareness of Communication with baby and the benefits of play
  • To help develop Stress management techniques for parents
  • Provide an opportunity for parents to develop friendships and foster community involvement
  • To increase parental confidence

Parents are made to feel welcome and supported within their parenting journey.

The Home Safety Check is a free service carried out by our Family Team. A Family Worker will assist you in checking your house to ensure that it is safe for a young child, and we can provide you with child-safe equipment such as door catches, stairgates, fireguards and other safety equipment if required (all items depend on availability).

Incredible Years Parenting Programme

The Incredible Years® evidence based parenting programmes focus on strengthening parenting competencies and fostering parent involvement in children’s school experiences, to promote children’s academic, social and emotional skills and reduce conduct problems. The parenting programmes are grouped according to age and at Colin Sure Start we deliver the babies (0-12 months) and toddlers (1-3 years) programmes.

The Incredible Years programmes offer parents an in-depth, comprehensive look into many of the challenges of parenting, the roots of behaviour in children and covers some theory of child development. The programmes are a commitment - usually 8-10 weeks with one session per week depending on whether it is the Babies or Toddlers programme, but we offer creche places for parents attending the toddler programme and our trained facilitators will support parents throughout the programme. The benefits and feedback from parents who complete these programmes is overwhelmingly positive - they report less parenting stress, better strategies for dealing with routine childhood challenges, more confidence as a parent, more time and many more, so there is definitely a pay-off for the commitment.

*Booking is essential for this programme.

Our Little Rainbows is our pre-preschool programme for children within the Colin Sure Start Catchment area who would benefit from a smaller group setting. The programme runs 3 days a week and follows the school term. Each session is 1 hour 30minutes with between 6 and 8 children in each group. Having smaller groups with high child to adult ratios allows us to provide specific, targeted support to enable your child to meet their full potential and make progress throughout the year. The application process follows that of our Developmental Programme for 2-3 Year Olds & Play To Learn Programmes. For your child to be eligible they must turn 2 on or before 1st July prior to programme commencement, be registered with Colin Sure Start and live within the Colin Sure Start catchment area.

MELLOW Babies Programme

Mellow Babies is a 14 week programme designed to provide parents with the support they need to develop strong relationships with their new babies. Mellow Babies aims to empower parents and increase confidence and self-esteem, provide a personal group for parents while children are supported in children’s groups, increase child/parent bonding with shared lunchtimes including fun activities for children and parents. It also provides activities to practice new skills such as ‘Have a go’, provides structured parenting workshops and illustrates family interaction through video footage. There will be a variety of topics covered in Mellow Babies over the weeks, these include; what do babies do all day, emotional and social development, what can babies do, sleep, bonding with baby and safety in the home. *Booking is essential for this programme.

Colin Sure Start acknowledges that at times parenting can be tough and at times parents may experience some difficulty in appropriately managing their anger – which is a normal human emotion. PAMP is an accessible and creative programme to help parents to think about and learn to manage their anger better. It contains eight two-hour sessions, deliverable individually or in groups. Contact Sure Start for further information. *Booking is essential for this programme.

Parent & Toddler Groups

We offer a number of parent and toddler groups throughout the Colin area, please refer to our latest newsletter for details of days and times. From Monday to Friday a Parent and Toddler Group is available in various locations throughout the Colin area. These sessions are all drop-in and they offer a space where children can play and interact with each other, and parents and carers are able to meet and chat. Parents and carers are encouraged to interact in activities and hands-on advice is available from our Early Years workers.

Paediatric First Aid Training

This First Aid training is a basic everyday course that will help parents deal with a number of situations including cuts and heavy bleeding, burns/scalds, resuscitation, head injuries, choking, seizures, strokes and heart attacks. *Booking is essential.

Our Play to Learn Development programme was developed in 2015 as a result of high demand for the Sure Start Developmental Programme for 2–3 year olds.  Play to Learn has been designed with similar principles to that of the Developmental Programme for 2-3 Year Olds. It recognises that each child is an individual, that parents are the primary and most important educator, and that parents should be encouraged to engage in their child’s learning where possible. The programme runs in blocks of 12 weeks, offering 20 children per term an opportunity to engage with their peers, improve in the four key developmental areas outlined in our curriculum and gain confidence in themselves as individuals. The programme is facilitated in our Lagmore and Lagan Valley premises. It runs four afternoons a week, Monday-Thursday 1:15pm-3pm. The application process is the same as that of our Developmental Programme for 2-3 Year Olds. Expressions of interest are available on our website and from our main office in the Dairy Farm.

Physical Activities

Colin Sure Start runs a number of physical activity programmes for parents and their little ones throughout the year. These range from Pramtastics, Mum and Baby Circuits and our Happy Feet Walking Group. Check out our latest newsletter to see what is currently available. *Booking on some physical activity programmes is required.


Reflexology is a popular and relaxing holistic treatment with benefits that include reducing stress, increasing energy levels and strengthening the immune system. We offer a small reflexology service to local mummies in need of a little timeout and pampering. *Booking is by appointment and is essential.

Speech and Language Services

Colin Sure Start’s Speech and Language services provides a range of support for children.  These include an outreach service to nursery schools, Sure Start Developmental Programme for 2-3 Year Olds support, training and support for local playgroups and Parent and Toddler groups.   We also deliver a parenting programme called Chatterbox. Chatterbox is aimed at pre-school children (aged 2-4) who would benefit from additional support to develop their speech, language and communication skills.  A Rhythm, Rhyme and Storytime group and Two Rhymes by Two programmes are also facilitated in the local area. Check out our latest newsletter for further information or call us on 028 9060 1417.

Sure Start Developmental Programme for 2-3 Year Olds

Colin Sure Start operates 4 specific children's programmes for children aged 2-3 in the year before they are due to start Nursery - these are the Developmental Programmes for 2–3 Year Olds (DP423YO). Each group has 12 places and follows the academic year from September to June, offering 48 children and their parents/carers from Lagmore, Twinbrook, Poleglass, Mount Eagles and all the wards we cover in Colin experiences of being in a group setting prior to starting Nursery. One of these programmes is delivered through the medium of Irish in our Twinbrook setting. The Sure Start Developmental Programme for 2-3 Year Olds is a government funded initiative through the Department of Education for children in their penultimate preschool year within a Sure Start catchment area. The programme focusses on play, providing a range of stimulating activities which aim to improve speech, language & communication skills, enhance social and emotional development, promote creativity, foster greater independence and support the transition to the preschool setting. The programme offers opportunities for parents and carers to be actively involved in their child's development and acknowledges the parent/carer as the child's first educator and the significance of their involvement. Applications for September intake the following year are released around autumn time the preceding year and places are allocated on a needs basis. For a child to be eligible they must

*Turn 2 years old on or before the 1st of July prior to the programme commencement

*Be registered with Colin Sure Start

*Live within the Colin Sure Start Catchment area, proof of address will be required. 

Toddler Time is a programme that is offered to parents/carers and children usually in the period between 1-3 years. It is most suitable when children are up on their feet and toddling or walking. There is a focus on movement and activity, There are themed weeks such as sensory play, fun with food, arts and crafts and physical play. Great for active learners and very popular with parents too!

The aims and objectives of the Toddler Time programme are:

  • An increased knowledge of 5 specific areas of toddler development; speech and language, play, toddler nutrition and creativity
  • To increase parental confidence in supporting their toddler during this stage of development
  • To provide an opportunity to learn about oral health
  • Provide an opportunity for social interaction/ learning for toddlers
  • To provide an opportunity for parents to develop friendships and foster community involvement
Weaning Workshops

Our Weaning Workshops give parents the confidence to prepare healthy and nutritious weaning foods at home from everyday foods - showing how these are easy, economical and time-saving to prepare. Introducing your baby to solid foods, or weaning should start when your baby is about six months old. It's a big step in their development and it can be great fun to explore new flavours and textures together. It's really important that you introduce your baby to a healthy diet from the start. The right nutrition plays a vital role in development and good nutrition is important for giving your children the best start in life.  We provide you with a starter weaning pack so that you can continue to make the delicious recipes at home. 

The Aims and Objectives of the Weaning Workshops are:

  • To increase knowledge of weaning and infant nutrition
  • To enable parents to recognise signs of readiness for weaning
  • To increase parents understanding of stages 1, 2 and 3 of weaning
  • To learn which foods are safe and unsafe for baby during weaning
  • To investigate the differences between homemade and commercial food
  • To increase parents confidence with the weaning process
Colin Sure Start Parents’ Forum

Our programmes and services are tailored to what is needed in the Colin area and we aim to complement the work of existing local services. The ongoing support that Sure Start provides can help to ensure that children flourish both at home and when they go to school.

It is vital that we get feedback from parents in the area about our services so we can continue to develop and improve them where need be, introduce new programmes and take on board all comments, whether positive or constructive. We gather this feedback from evaluation forms, questionnaires, conversations with parents, social media and also from our Parents’ Forum. The Parents’ Forum provides a platform for parents to openly chat about all the Sure Start services in an informal manner and put forward suggestions about what we could do in future. It’s a great way to get your voice heard and it helps shape programmes and services.