Message from Surestart Coordinator – Pauline Wilson

Welcome to our Surestart Ards webpage.  We have been so looking forward to going live with our website and I had hoped for a more exciting launch.  However with this ongoing crisis , it is essential that we are able to link with you and share details of the great services we are still able to offer you.

The SureSart services that are still available are as follows –

The main phone lines in both areas are available Monday – Friday 9am – 4pm.  This is for any queries about your family or if you need anything that we can help you with .  If the phone is not answered immediately please leave a message and someone will contact you.

Family support – we are providing a telephone service for families requiring ongoing guidance and support at this challenging time.

Early Years – staff will be contacting the families with children attending Dakota Tots, Country Tots, Little Buddies, Little Blossoms and Peer interaction programmes to maintain links with the children.

Health visitor – support is still available for any antenatal mums, new mums and those requiring breastfeeding support or guidance.

We will be offering video links on this site for activities such as Rhythm, rhyme and story time, arts and crafts etc. so please have a look and join in with your children.

If there is anything else that you think we can offer please contact us –

Maxwells Courtyard, Kircubbin –  Tel. 02842739322

Dakota Avenue, Newtownards – Tel 02891819722

In the meantime, stay safe, wash your hands and stay at home.  We look forward to seeing you when this is all over. Pauline Wilson

Please scroll down for more information






Men’s Health Week 14 – 20 June 2021



Please click on link below for more information about free courses for parents

NI-All Courses-Interactive


Please click on link below for information about returning to school after lockdown



Click on link below to read ‘How to stay calm in a Global Pandemic’ by Emma Hepburn







calm down box ideas pdf (3)

Coronavirus_ABookForChildren (3)






For information on Promoting Mental Health Well Being click on link below

Action Pack (full version inc training resource):

Online Training resource:



Please click on link for more information on Mental Health and Money Toolk

This booklet is intended to offer helpful suggestions and recourses for families to support parents, children and adolescents deal with stress and strengthen meaningful connections together.  Please click on the link below picture


Dealing with Worry in Difficult Times

Dealing with worry in difficult times  is a booklet from Health Development on dealing with worry and uncertainty.  It gives practical suggestions for reducing worry in these challenging times, promote wellbeing and provides links to resources that people have found helpful.

Please click on this link to view a video version of this booklet

Weaning Advice

If you would like some information around weaning please click on the links below

this link is from NHS Lanarkshire, it contains several videos that link in well with the content of ‘solid start’- e.g. discussing buying shop bought baby food vs homemade, they discuss when babies are ready for weaning and have short videos on making weaning foods.

There are also useful videos on Public Health England’s Start for life page

First steps nutrition have good photo resources-

Wire Me Happy Information





Parenting can be challenging at any time and just when you think you have mastered it another challenge arises.  Parenting NI have a range of one hour online sessions offering support with a range of topics including parenting in a pandemic, managing challenging behaviour and managing transitions.















Please click on the link below for information and guidance on fuel, food, finances, volunteering opportunities and other useful contacts

South Eastern Area Guide for services Winter 2020 final


Children and Young Peoples Resource Pack

This resource pack was collated in April and has recently been updated. Clink on the link below to find out information from 50 simple activities to do with your child to coping with mental health and well being to printable colouring in sheets and a section on resources and activities for children and young people with a disability (pge 7-10).


BookTrust have launched a new digital hub , BookTrust Home Time which it packed with reading advice, ideas, activities and resources.  Their recent addition – the Northern Ireland page will feature local authors, illustrators and initiatives. This portal highlights amazing local talent and shares what other organisations are doing to support families across Northern Ireland.  Each week there will be a new video or interview – kicking things off Malachy Doyle reads his book Molly and the Whale.  Please cllick on the link to make use of this resource  

The BookTrust NI facebook page is

Something for the older children

Libraries Ni is delighted to announce details of Silly Squad, Summer Reading Challenge 2020 produced by The Reading Agency and delivered by Libraries.  The Silly Squad , Summer Reading Challenge is free, exciting way to keep young people aged 4 – 11 years reading through the summer months.  Due to the current circumstances in relation to COVID-19 and with school life disrupted, this years Silly Squad Summer Reading Challenge will be even more beneficial in helping parents and carers to find fun, family-friendly activities to support children in maintaining and developing their reading levels. Click on to sign up for free.




Rhythm Rhyme and Storytime

Please click on link to watch Rhythm Rhyme and Storytime with Deirdre


Remember ‘What is in the bag today?‘ Please click on the link below to learn how a simple activity can bring great opportunities for communication development with your child.

Learn how you can help to develop your child’s understanding of words through play.  Click on the link to find out more



Help Kids Talk




June Message of the Month




June Newsletter

 Its never too early to introduce children to books and it is important to include access to books throughout the day for your little ones.  Books help with vocabulary and language development.  Babies love books.  Use them any time during the day – getting babies to holding books an sharing stories at a young age helps prepare them for reading as they get older.  It also helps them learn new words, as they see the picture at the same time as they hear the word.  Check out the libraries NI rub a dub hub website for ideas

Please click on Advice page for Speech and language useful links





Staff News (for a bit of light relief!!!)

So remember during lockdown 1 Sharon aka Dr Doolittle befriended a pheasant and had it eating out of her hand?  Well here she is again this time making friends with some wild kittens – how cute are they and look at their lovely fur.  I can see a new career in the horizon Sharon!!


Congratulations to Cheryl and Kurits on their recent engagement.  Cheryl’s beloved dog Harley played a very important role on the day by retrieving a ball on the beach saying ‘will you marry me’.  How romantic.  Wishing you both every happiness.  2020 not such a bad year Cheryl!

The beautiful ring

And the other handsome male in Cheryl’s life




















Also congratulations to the new Mr and Mrs Moore

Amy and Daniel were married in August literally between 2 lockdowns

A fabulous day was had by all and what an unusual situation for Amy to be working with both her mum and mother in law – good luck Amy!!

Welcome to the new addition to the Arthurs household.  This is Buddy, Lesley’s new very cute pup.  Buddy has been round to visit us a few times and we can’t get enough of him!!  

Buddy’s first experience of the snow

Hello Lockdown 3!!!!  As a way of keeping in touch with our families we have been encouraging  everyone to send in photographs of how they are spending their time while at home.  Thanks to everyone who have participated so far

Hello Matthew Brown – love your lego creation -keep up the good work

Look how busy Sarah Hawthorne is – Sarah attends our SureStart group in Dakota – well done Sarah keep up the good work

Look at the end result – Jessica made a bird feeder while in lockdown.  Well done for looking after our wildlife

Here is Hunter McCann -he is very busy drawing a lovely picture.  What a great smile you have Hunter

Here is our wee snowman Odin enjoying fun in the snow!!

Oliver is very busy making musical instruments with plastic bottles filled with rice/pasta/peas.  Well done Oliver I hope you are making lots of noise in your house!!

Look at the concentration on Tyler Higgins face as he makes his bottle shaker and another lovely snow picture with big sister Scarlett

Austin Wards art pieces on display – well done Austin

Hello April McGrattan .  April has been keeping her family fed and watered using her baking skills.  What a lovely way to spend lockdown – eating buns and drinking hot chocolate.  Thanks for keeping in touch April

Here is the lovely Lottie Nicholson showing us her fantastic creations – you have been very busy in lockdown Lottie!

WOW! Kash you have been so busy – well done – hope you aren’t missing your friends in County Tots too much

Here’s our Eva again – I love how you are concentrating on your colouring Eva – well done and thanks for keeping in touch

Tyler and his sister Scarlett joined us via zoom to make playdough – if you look very closely you can see Lesley and Mairead on their screen

Hello again to Matthew Brown – that smile would light up a room Matthew

Hello Sarah Hunter – what lovely pictures – thank you for keeping in touch 

Wow doesn’t this look like a lot of fun.  Here is Sierra Agnew showing us her painting skills!!  Have fun with the clear up!

Hello to Sarah Hunter who is brilliant at multi tasking – planting and baking Sarah – well done you

Rio I love how you taste tested your buns!!  


Remember the sunflowers seeds that were given out during lockdown?  Well her is Sierra Agnew showing us how her sunflower has grown – Sierra you must have looked after your plant so well to make it grow this high!  Well done you

Here is Oliver Hagan enjoying his new toy which he received  for being a very brave boy after hurting his elbow

Sarah I just love your pink scooter – wonder if I could get one in my size!!

I wonder what Jessica Savage is making?  Look at those scissor skills

Here is Logan Orr showing off his masterpiece.  Well done Logan you have done a super job!

Maisie Colgan getting very creative with ‘The Three Little Pigs’.  What a great job you are doing Maisie.  Nice to see Mum getting her picture taken as well.  Keep up the good work 

Hi to Sarah Hughes showing off her talents – lovely to see your wee face Sarah.  

Lacey tells Mum that she is doing her ‘homework’!!

Odin is a very busy bee – you are being so creative Odin – keep up the good work

Hello to Rio Ashley.  Rio you have been so busy during lockdown.  Thank you for showing us your masterpieces.  Keep in touch Rio

Hello to Jax Graham – thank you for sharing your lovely creations – you have been a busy boy!

Jessica those buns look so tasty – I hope you kept one for me??

Here is Danny Macsorley showing us his talents – great to see you again Danny

Hello again to Austin Ward who is showing us his talents during lockdown – good work Austin – thanks for keeping in touch

Odin you have been so busy during lockdown and have been great at keeping in touch with us

Padraig Flynn has been busy planting sunflowers for spring – remember to water your seeds Padraig so they can grow big and strong

Cant decide who is the cutest – Sarah or her lambs

Hunter has been extremely busy both indoors and outdoors – well done Hunter 

Odin Donnan out enjoying the fresh air – looks like you are having fun Odin

That looks like a lot of interesting ingredients Jessica

Lacey Morgan looking every inch a princess with her earring and necklace

Here is Kash Mullan colouring in his farm animals – what a great job you are doing Kash.

Please click on link to see Shea Braniff singing Old Macdonald – great to hear your singing voice Shea


Hello Austin Ward – I love what you have made – thanks for keeping in touch

Hello to Eva O’Neill – what a fantastic snowman you and your brother Matthew have made – I love his scarf and big orange nose.  Well done for making the bottle shakers Eva – I am sure there is plenty on noise in your house now!!

Hello again to the very talented Matthew Brown who is showing us his marvellous creations 

Laochra it is great to see that wee smiling face again!! Look at your fantastic picture -well done you

This lovely picture was sent to us showing how creative Sarah Hughes has been while her two sisters have been doing their school work from home.  Well done mum for keeping in touch when home life so busy!

Hello and nice to see Padraig Flynn – here he is showing us what he has made while in lockdown

Hello again to Odin Donnan – looks like you have been so busy at home – hope you are having fun with your big brother

Here is the lovely Sarah showing us her creations – what a super job Sarah

Welcome to Mary Jane – Sarah’s sister – who has been helping making crafts while on a  break from home schooling – I think you could get yourself a job in SureStart Mary Jane.  

Here is Olivia Henderson showing us what she has been making while in lockdown – Dakota tots staff have been busy sending out resources – one of the weeks it was ingredients to make playdough.  Good job Olivia

Hello and welcome to Cerys Pearson who has been super busy during lockdown.  Thanks for sharing Cerys – keep up the good work

Here is Sarah Hughes listening to a story sent out via a link by SureStart staff

Looks like Sierra Agnew is cooking up a treat – keep some for us Sierra


HAPPY 3rd BIRTHDAY to Oliver Hagan from everyone at SureStart – what an amazing pirate shiip!

Recipes to make

Healthy Brownies

60g cocoa powder

sweetner to your desired sweetness

6 eggs separated

tsp vanilla essence


Whisk egg whites to soft peaks

Mix egg yolks, cocoa powder, vanilla and sweetner together (if too dry add a little water, milk or melted margarine.

Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg whites

Place into a lined square baking tray

Cook in oven for 20-25 mins at 180

Scatter some crushed white chocolate or drizzle with caramel












Store Cupboard and Freezer Ideas                  
















Our NHS 

Here at SureStart Ards we would like to extend our support and gratitude to our colleagues in the NHS. We have watched day by day, hour by hour how this situation is changing and how they are doing their utmost to help us, our family and our community.  Please support this by staying at home, stay safe and protect our NHS.  Staff at SureStart Ards are still working to support families – some are working from home while others this week will be working in First Steps Day Nursery in Lagan Valley Hospital and Ulster Hospital and First Steps Afterschool in Down Hospital Downpatrick.  Support has also been given to the Family Support Hub Trustwide* in offering telephone services to families requiring additional support.

  • for referral send to
  • or telephone Karen Otley Tel no. 02892501357