Royal visit to children’s project at Ballymena, Northern Ireland.

Posted by / Thursday 28 February 2019 /
Ballymena royal visit 6

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are visiting a Sure Start centre in Ballymena today (Thursday 28th February) where they will meet parents who have completed an intensive parenting programme.

The Royal couple will also drop in on a play session for children under 3 and a Dad’s group where fathers and male carers are encouraged to engage in early learning experiences with their children.

The Sure Start centre, funded by the Department for Education in Northern Ireland, is run by the leading children’s charity Action for Children. The parenting programme focuses on supporting families facing challenges like parental isolation or mental health issues or who may have limited support networks.

The Duchess, who is the Patron of Action for Children, will join a ‘Stay and Play’ session meeting some of the 2 and 3 year olds who attend the centre every week.

Mum Gemma Culbert says: “Myself and my daughter cannot say how much all of your help has meant to us over the past three years. You have helped us make new friends, helped shape my daughter into the sociable, smart, funny little person she is. You helped me through very difficult times and showed me that I don’t have to do everything alone”

Steve Kane from Ballymena helps run a Dad’s group called ‘Family Men’ which brings male carers  - fathers, grandfathers, step-dads and any man who takes an active role in a child’s life -  together for parenting support. Steve has been a volunteer for Action for Children since 2016 and wants to break down barriers for men apprehensive about attending.

The Duke of Cambridge will join the group for Father’s Reading Every Day (FRED) which is designed to encourage dads to engage in reading opportunities with their children.

Steve said: “It is a privilege to reap the rewards of being a dad. As a volunteer I want to give back to dads who need help and to break the stigma so that men know there is a place for them in their children’s lives in the early years and beyond.”

Action for Children Director for Northern Ireland Dawn Shaw said:  

“The focus here is on learning through play to support children’s development and today’s visit is an exciting opportunity for parents and children who participate in activities at the Ballymena centre to meet the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. They themselves are parents so will have an affinity with parents of young children.

The Duchess is the Patron of Action for Children, so this is a chance for our staff to show her the practical support we offer to parents and children within the Ballymena area as part of the charity’s work. This a very special day for the service.”

Marie Roulston, Director of Social Care and Children’s Services, Health and Social Care Board said; “The HSCB is delighted to be involved in the 38 Sure Start Projects in Northern Ireland, including Ballymena and Little Steps Sure Start. Today’s event signifies the successful collaboration between the many organisations and people involved in delivering a service in the heart of the community that really makes a difference to the lives of children and families.”





Helen Costello, Action for Children – 07768 828736/

[email protected]  


Out of hours – 07802 806 679 / [email protected]   


Notes to Editors :


  • HOW ACTION FOR CHILDREN WORKS: Action for Children helps disadvantaged children across the UK through intervening early to stop neglect and abuse, fostering and adoption, supporting disabled children, and by campaigning tirelessly to make life better for children and families. With over 550 services the charity improves the lives of more than 300,000 children, teenagers, parents and carers every year.