FAST is already transforming the lives of thousands of children in Northern Ireland, giving them the chance of a brighter future.
"Before FAST, Cory [six] would have shied away, he wouldn’t have spoken. Now he’s confident. He runs into the school and talks away to all the teachers. You have to do it to believe it. FAST has changed my whole life”
Geraldine, St Bernadette’s School, west Belfast
By 2017, we aim to deliver FAST to more than 50,000 children living in poverty. We want to show the government FAST works so they will make it available to every single family in the UK.
Our targets for FAST are ambitious. But we believe that by working together, we can help give even more children living in poverty a fair chance at school – and in life.
FAST in Northern Ireland
In Northern Ireland, we deliver FAST through our regional offices. They’re at the heart of the communities we work in. They understand the needs of the children and parents who live there.
Between 2010 and 2014, FAST in Northern Ireland has been delivered to 1,303 families and 2,500 children.
86% of families who started FAST finished it, a particularly high rate compared to other programmes.
Across the board, the results have been positive: for children, for families and for the wider community.
Success in school
- 3% rise in parental involvement with school
- 11% fall in child’s difficulties at school
- 52% rise in support between parents
- 19% rise in positive family relationships
- 25% fall in family conflict
- 12% improvement in parent-child relationship
- 18% fall in total child difficulties at home
Story of success
St Bernadette’s Primary School in Ballymurphy, west Belfast, was the first school in Northern Ireland to sign up to FAST.
Head teacher Celia O’Reilly describes its impact on the school: “The whole concept of FAST was what we had been looking for. It’s been a miracle for our children, parents, families, for the whole community. We hoped we’d get more parents involved but we didn’t ever dream they’d be involved to the extent they are now.
“The parent’s room went from being empty to this amazing place overnight. We had worked with children and parents separately before, but working in a family context is the most powerful of all. I can’t imagine St Bernadette’s without FAST.”
Parents at the school speak of how FAST has changed their children’s lives.
“Seeing the difference in Keela when she got up to sing in front of everybody was like winning the Lotto. I was so proud. Now she’s like a totally different child. Before FAST she wouldn’t have talked to anyone, now she’s on stage dancing in front of 500 people and doing brilliantly in her schoolwork. It was life-changing.”
Anne Marie says she’s now much closer to her daughter Saoirse.
“Before FAST my daughter and I were always in the house together, but we never actually spent that much time together. The special play really helped me spend a wee bit of time with her which I’d never done before.
“Saoirse is doing brilliantly. There’s so much of a difference in her and we’re so close.”
And FAST has transformed Anne Marie’s life too.
“A lot of new things are happening for me. The way I am now – the difference is unbelievable. Before FAST I would never speak out in front of people, I was always nervous. Since then I’ve got a new job, a promotion and I’ve been Employee of the Month.
“I absolutely love it. For me, FAST has been life-changing. I would recommend it to anybody.”
In the news
Ballysally is a model of best practice – Coleraine Times
Derry families graduate – Derry Journal
Rathcoole parents celebrate graduation – Newtownabbey Times