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Belfast City

Brain Injury Matters (NI) Awarded £199,959 From The National Lottery

Northern Ireland charity Brain Injury Matters (NI) has been awarded nearly £200,000 for their Family First Service from The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK.

The Family First Service – a Northern Ireland wide service – is a collaborative venture, led by Brain Injury Matters (NI), in partnership with the Psychology Services at the Belfast Health and Social Trust supporting families whose child has an acquired brain injury (ABI).  The project launched in 2015 and has been funded to the tune of £199,959 by the National Lottery Community fund since its commencement.

Joe Mc Vey, CEO of Brain Injury Matters, said: “This new fund further enhances our capability to deliver the Family First Service.  By developing what we offer within this service, we are confident that this new fund will help us continue to meet family’s needs, offer additional support to siblings and deliver additional online services. We are delighted to have the continued support from the Lottery and to strengthen our partnership with the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.”

The Family First Service project provides specific interventions to support and empower families to meet the challenges of supporting their child with an acquired brain injury (ABI). Overall the family first project has enabled families to live beyond acquired brain injury and enabled them not to be solely defined by their child’s injury.

Thanks to the funding from National Lottery, Brain Injury Matters (NI) Family First project will be able to continue their home based work, more work with siblings, continued Partnership with the Belfast Trust and develop their on-line portal. This will ensure that families with a child who has ABI will have continued access to tailored services, more access to the Family First team, to information and to each other.

Bridget Smyth, Children’s Services Manager of the Family first Service, said: “This new National Lottery funding is fantastic and will help us to continue to make a difference in the lives of families whose children have an acquired brain injury (ABI). In the 5 years since its commencement, we have worked with over 70 families. Feedback from families has identified not only a positive impact for the child in terms of their overall wellbeing but the positive impact on the family as a whole.”

Mary Peoples, whose son Peadar Pio, has been receiving support from the Family First service for the last year.  She said: “In July 2018 our lives changed when our 10 year old son, Peadar Pio, fell from a trampoline and required life-saving brain surgery. The following few months were lonely and frustrating for the family. Peadar Pio’s OT contacted Brain Injury Matters and we have been so lucky to be receiving support from Catherine since January 2019.

“Catherine provides a safe environment for Peadar Pio and us to discuss our worries and fears and she helps us understand the effects of an Acquired Brain Injury. She has given Peadar Pio coping mechanisms which will benefit him throughout his life.

“The positive impact that BIM has had on our lives is immeasurable and we are so grateful to everyone involved; so much so that we have organised a number of fundraising events in our local area to support the work of Brain Injury Matters; including a cinema night and most recently the male staff of Gaelcholáiste Dhore took part in Movember and raised just under £1,000.”

For more information on the Family First Service contact Bridget Smyth at or 02890705125 or visit

Belfast City

£10million Investment in Transformation of New Train Station for York Street

Nichola Mallon pictured with Chris Conway from Translink.

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has announced a £10m investment project that will see the construction of a new train station at York Street, Belfast. 

Having recently secured planning permission, this exciting regeneration project will be the next station to be transformed into a high-quality sustainable transport hub, to attract more people to make public transport their first choice for greener and healthier travel.

Announcing the funding, Minister Mallon said: “I am committed to delivering sustainable infrastructure that will transform communities, improve lives and help tackle the climate crisis.  Key to that commitment is ensuring we have a functioning and thriving public transport network and that is why I want to invest in our infrastructure and our rail infrastructure in particular, which will deliver for local people and visitors now and well into the future.

“Last year I launched a public consultation on proposals to redevelop this new train station at York Street. Following the completion of the consultation process, and the subsequent receipt of planning approval, I am delighted to confirm that this £10million project can move towards construction phase. 

“Our public transport network is vital in our recovery from Covid-19 both economically and socially. Pre-covid the current facility was one of the busiest train stations in Northern Ireland. With the move of Ulster University to this part of Belfast, it is expected this will grow further with improved facilities, including better links to walking and cycling options in the area, making it even easier for people to choose sustainable travel as their smarter travel mode.”

The Minister added: “As well as improving connectivity and making public transport a more attractive offering the redevelopment of the station will also help to secure jobs in the local construction industry.  I look forward to seeing work commence later this year and the completion of the new station in 2023.”

Chris Conway, Translink Group Chief Executive said: “This is really good news for the city. It will provide better connectivity for everyone particularly with the opening of the new Ulster University campus this year and the planned City Quays development.  

“Passengers will enjoy modern, more accessible amenities including a new Changing Places facility and better links to walking and cycling options with more access to cycle parking and local cycle networks.  A new footbridge will link to wider platforms and new canopies.

“The external design will boast an enhanced station layout with high quality landscaping and provision of a public realm area at the front of the station.

“We would like to thank the Minister and her department for the essential funding to deliver this vital infrastructure scheme which will significantly shape the future of this area.  It will provide the people of North Belfast with connections that can improve the area’s liveability and the community’s employability. We will continue to work with all our stakeholders as the development progresses”, Chris concluded.

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Belfast City

Stormont Play Park ‘Quiet Hour’ Launched

Photo Credit: Michael Cooper

Finance Minister, Conor Murphy has announced a special ‘Quiet Hour’ at the Mo Mowlam Playpark on the Stormont Estate, making the facilities more inclusive for all.

The playpark, which is designed for children of all abilities and includes a dedicated sensory area, will now be opened one hour earlier each Wednesday morning during July, creating a calmer environment for children with additional needs.

The Quiet Hour will run from 8.30am-9.30am for an initial four-week trial and if successful, will become a regular fixture.

Speaking during a visit to the playpark along with Health Minister this morning, Minister Murphy said: “Inclusive play is at the heart of this wonderful facility which is extremely popular with families and children.

“We recognise that due to its popularity, the playpark can get very busy and this can be overwhelming for some children. So we’re delighted to be able to open the gates an hour earlier one day a week to allow those with additional needs to be able to play in a quieter setting.”

Health Minister Robin Swann said: “I am delighted to support this initiative and to meet the young people and their families for whom it will undoubtedly prove a popular addition to the facilities available with the Stormont Estate. Making all aspects of society as accessible and inclusive as possible to all our citizens and in particular the young is an ambition which we must all continue to work towards.”

Welcoming the initiative, Autism NI CEO Kerry Boyd said: “It is great to see that the playpark will be introducing a special Quiet Hour for children with additional needs. Many of our autistic families have enjoyed the facility since it has opened and will benefit greatly from the park opening an hour early. We hope others will follow this great example and help to build an inclusive society for everyone.”

The Quiet Hour was championed by a number of parents who have been engaging with Stormont Estate staff in recent weeks. After meeting with parents and children at the park, Minister Murphy said: “I was delighted to speak with parents who have been instrumental in making this a reality. It’s so important that children of all abilities can continue to enjoy this excellent playpark as much as possible. I’m very pleased to be able to facilitate this Quiet Hour and I hope it proves to be a great success.”

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