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Community activities for families

Many local churches run a variety of family-focused activities in their local community.  

Many churches run parent and toddler groups, where there are plenty of toys for the children to play with, as well as story time and songs and of course painting and arts for those messy hands to engage with. It's a time for your children to play, while you get to know more people and have a chance to talk and have a cuppa. There is often a minster available should you wish to discuss anything.

Music is something magical that you can share with your child and a way of communicating even before they can talk. Singing can also calm you as well as your child, if you are feeling stressed and can provide a distraction if they are crying. Baby song (and toddlers song) is for babies that are of a similar age or stage of their growth, so we have the babies who are learning to sit up, babies who are crawling and the toddlers.

Music is the perfect vehicle for learning, for instance repeating rhymes to your child can help develop their language. Research has shown that music and song can help to develop communication, listening, concentration, sharing and social skills for babies.

In Belfast we run a parenting and childcare assessment programme. Families referred to this 12-week programme work closely with Thorndale social workers and project staff addressing areas such as parenting skills, household budgeting, alcohol and drug abuse and domestic violence. The aim of the programme is to empower and equip families with the necessary skills and insight to be competent parents who are able to appropriately care for and cope with their children.

Staff work in partnership with Social Services and other health and social care professionals across a range of disciplines to ensure children in need or at risk of harm are protected, and families are provided with the opportunity to remain together when possible and where appropriate.

We have seven child contact centres providing facilities for children to spend time with a parent where there has been a family breakdown. Staff or volunteers are on hand to offer support as needed. Registered with the National Association of Contact Centres, these provide a secure meeting place for parents to meet with their children when circumstances prevent any other forms of contact. This is obviously a sensitive issue so all enquiries and referrals are confidential.

We also have adult resources full of ideas for use in group meetings. Download our web order form to see a list of our resources and pricing. Please print off and send the web order form with a cheque enclosed to The Salvation Army or email afm@salvationarmy.org.uk.