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FOYLESIDE BRING BACK ‘SILENT SANTA’ VISITS FOR KIDS WITH AUTISM

FOYLESIDE BRING BACK ‘SILENT SANTA’ VISITS FOR KIDS WITH AUTISM

The highly-anticipated ‘Silent Santa’ initiative has returned to Foyleside Shopping Centre, enabling children with particular needs to visit Father Christmas in the comfort of a quiet environment.

On Wednesday evenings from 6-8pm – which is the Centre’s staple Quiet Shopping Night of the week – families with a child who has autism or sensory difficulties can visit Santa with the Centre’s background music turned off and tannoy announcements kept to a minimum.

The Silent Santa initiative was introduced to make the experience of visiting Saint Nick inclusive and accessible to children who may potentially become anxious in the face of excessive noise, queues or crowding during busy periods.

Centre Manager of Foyleside, Fergal Rafferty, said the service has had a positive impact on visiting families in previous years.

“Our Silent Santa initiative proved to be extremely beneficial and well-received last year by parents and children, so we felt it was important to ensure this returned to Foyleside to create an entirely inclusive Centre for those who want to enjoy Santa the same way others can, but in a calm and considered way.

“At Foyleside, we have made a number of significant changes to support those with additional needs in the last 12 months, including our new Sensory Room, which features fibre optics, bubble tubes and customisable sound and light levels to help remove anxiety and distress. We have worked very closely with Autism NI to become more autism friendly and our staff have also been provided with specific training – so we really are making great improvements to make the Centre as accessible as possible.”

Silent Santa will run every Wednesday evening until 11th December. Quiet Shopping Nights are every Wednesday 6-8pm.

For more information on Foyleside’s special needs services, visit: www.foyleside.co.uk/centre-info/services/

EXTRA CARE LAUNCHES NEW STRATEGY TO ENHANCE THE FUTURE OF THE CHARITY

EXTRA CARE LAUNCHES NEW STRATEGY TO ENHANCE THE FUTURE OF THE CHARITY

Extra Care, Northern Ireland’s longest established domiciliary care charity is set to launch its three-year Strategic Plan, ‘Finding Our Way’, at a VIP event in Stormont this week.

Despite recent challenges within the Social Care sector in Northern Ireland, Extra Care has taken a heads-on approach to move the charity forward and embrace ambitious opportunities in the future. After undertaking in-depth consultations in 2018 with staff and service users, it was identified that a three-year Strategic Plan would place the charity in a stronger position to continue providing the best possible care for service users, whilst maintaining a positive staff support and training system.

The ‘Finding Our Way’ Strategy will signpost how Extra Care delivers its services, connects with communities, develops partnerships and celebrate its staff and service users in the future, through the Charity’s Purpose, Vision and Values.

In the past year, Extra Care has welcomed significant changes to include an investment in excess of £190,000 creating 28 new jobs, as well as the opening of three new support hubs in Belfast, Carrickfergus and Cookstown.

Brian Hutchinson, CEO of Extra Care said, “We are delighted to announce the launch of our Strategy 2019 – 2022.  We believe this forward-thinking plan will allow us to continually provide the best Person-Centred care, whilst strengthening our links within the community. It is also an opportunity to broaden and strengthen staff training as well as provide career support to enable growth within Extra Care.”

Brian adds, “The launch is a chance for like-minded people from across the Health and Social Care Trusts, local politicians and elderly care charities to familiarise themselves with the positive work we do and establish new collaborative relationships going forward. We are privileged to have just welcomed our new Chair, Dame Joan Harbison and the Board is optimistic for the future of our organisation.”

Extra Care was established in 1935, providing health and social care services in Northern Ireland, operating across four of the Trust areas. Currently the organisation employs over 300 staff, committed to providing service users with the support they need to maintain living in their home their way.

For more information about Extra Care visit: http://extra-care.org