SOFT Project

SOFT-LogoA project that will bring together partners from the voluntary, community and statutory sectors to provide a five year co-ordinated programme to help families support children aged between 4-12 living in the Cookstown area has been awarded a major grant from Big Lottery Fund.

The Speedwell Trust has been awarded a grant of £700,000 from Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Out: Supporting Families programme which supports families in Northern Ireland to improve their children’s lives by building strong and nurturing relationships. Speedwell leads a partnership, made up of community, voluntary and statutory sector representatives, which will deliver a range of services aimed at helping families facing challenges that may impact on the children’s development and educational learning in the Cookstown area.

The project is called SOFT (Supporting Our Families Together) and will offer a holistic approach to early intervention at the key transitional stages of a child’s development between ages 4-12 years, offering families the opportunity to develop skills and knowledge to overcome challenges they encounter.

Neil Downing, SOFT Chairperson said: “Through the SOFT Project parents will be provided with assistance from an early stage to ensure children have a better start in life. Families will be supported to encourage children to enjoy, learn and achieve, as well as have access to a consistent family support network appropriate to age and location.

“This significant award from the Big Lottery Fund is the culmination of almost three years’ intensive research and discussion with families and organisations responsible for the provision of services across the Cookstown area.”

“This project will bring much needed resources into the Cookstown area and ensure that those in need of help receive vital support,” said Neil.

The grant was welcomed by Eamon McClean, Manager of the Speedwell Trust, the organisation responsible for the management of the project. He said: “This is fantastic news for the Cookstown area. Speedwell has been working with the Cookstown schools for 15 years in promoting shared education and good relations. We are delighted to be involved in a project which will improve educational outcomes for children and young people in the Cookstown area.”

Joanne McDowell, Big Lottery Fund NI Director, said:

“We are delighted to be funding this project through our Supporting Families programme. It will strengthen families’ ability to cope with the challenges they face. We hope it will have a really positive impact on the lives of people who need our help the most.”