Supporting children and young people with a broad range of additional needs
Sólás was initially established in 2009 as a charity supporting children and young people with a broad range of additional needs including autism and ASD. Since then, the organisation has grown to incorporate a comprehensive range of social development programmes, projects to promote education and family support initiatives. Based in South Belfast, Sólás’ reach extends throughout NI.
A range of programmes to encourage social interaction
Sólás directly support over 250 children and young people each week with their specialist Early Years programme, thirteen afterschool clubs, four Saturday Clubs, Senior & Junior Youth Clubs, tailored respite support and summer schemes all of which encourage children to try new activities whilst being supported to practice and develop their social interaction skills in a safe environment and build personal resilience.
Collaborating to deliver the best possible outcomes for children
Of particular note is Sólás’ commitment to cross-sectoral collaborative partnerships with health professionals, the Education Authority, local special schools as well as community organisations such as South Belfast Sure Start, Barnardo’s, Forward South Partnership Board, and BSCR (Belfast South Community Resource) all involved in the successful delivery of the Early Intervention programme.
Sólás encourage children to try new activities whilst being supported to practice and develop their social interaction skills.
Providing positive outcomes
The Sólás team, led by Dr Joan Henderson, are recognised as innovators in their field and have an enviable track record of pioneering new approaches to advance the educational and social development of children with additional needs, including those children that fall outside the remit of support offered by statutory providers.
Over a hundred families are supported each year by the Sólás respite service, home support and parent programmes. The Sibling Support Programme, designed to support siblings of children with disabilities who risk feeling emotionally isolated or resenting the impact of their sibling’s disability on their childhood and life choices, was first introduced as a pilot in 2019 and since then, having demonstrated remarkable positive outcomes for those participating, has attracted multi-year funding.
children and young people each week
Continue to develop innovative approaches to significantly improve education and social outcomes
Currently, Sólás is embarking on another pilot that will see the extension of the Early Years Programme to include children aged 3-4 not yet in receipt of a formal diagnosis and a Statement of SEN. The additional year afforded will enable children to continue to avail of specialist interventions and facilitate professional assessments.