Sinn Féin - On Your Side

West Belfast School Age Mothers will continue while need exists

10 August, 2006

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson, West Belfast MLA Michael Ferguson has met with BELB's Chief Executive David Cargo this morning to discuss the controversial decision to axe services for School Age Mother's at Whiterock. Discussions lasted an hour and a half.

Following the meeting Michael Ferguson said,

"We had intense discussions concerning the comprehensive nature of the services delivered to vulnerable school age mothers at Whiterock, particularly as BELB staff who had worked with the project for many years had recently left the post.

"The discussion between the Whiterock Children's Centre staff and the Board staff facilitated by David Cargo and myself allowed for a greater understanding of the co-occurring issues that affect these young girls and the children and we welcomed the decision of the BELB to continue to provide this service at Whiterock for as long as the need exists.

"It is clear that there is significant need for these services within West Belfast and last year there 26 young women used the services provided by the SAM project.

"The SAM project at Whiterock will be advertising their array of support services in local papers and it is essential that Social Services, the Community and Voluntary Sector groups who have in the past referred these vulnerable young girls to the Whiterock Children's Centre continue to do so in confidence that their complex needs will be supported.

"It is also important that as we move forward with educational reform and Costello proof educational provision that we build the learning

neighbourhoods that can support the complex and comprehensive needs of, in particular, the most vulnerable of our young people in areas characterised by multiple deprivation. We must ensure that every young person achieves their human potential and local learning hubs of access are crucial. We do of course ultimately require our own local minister with a real budget to support education and learning." ENDS

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