Singing with Santa


Singing with Santa


On 9th December all 9 Belfast Sure Start programs came together for the first ever performance by the Sure Start Parent and Staff Choir.  The Singing with Santa Event at St Anne’s Cathedral event was attended by parents and children under 4 from across the city, bringing festive cheer and a clear message that singing is good for you!


The Social Care and Children’s Directorate in the Health and Social Care Board is funded by the Department of Education to manage and administer the 38 Sure Start Projects across Northern Ireland. Together with the Childcare Partnerships they are delighted to share news of this joyful event.


Directed by Julie Allen of Everyday Harmony, the 50 strong choir performed pop classics and Christmas numbers – all with a feel good factor and enthusiastic audience participation. Santa and Elf on the Shelf also made an appearance.


This is the first time that all 9 Sure Start Programs in Belfast have come together and Lead Speech and Language Therapist for Sure Start Anne McKee said “Singing together makes us feel good. When we feel good that has a positive impact on those around us – our children, our families, our colleagues. For parents in particular, when they feel positive they have more head space to engage with their children in an attuned and responsive way.  These attuned and responsive interactions make a big difference to a child’s developing brain, to how they learn to talk, to think, to play and make friends.”


The “Singing with Santa event was supported by the PHA and organised in partnership with the Belfast Trust Arts in Health Programme, led by Paula McHugh, who said “Evidence is growing in support of arts in health both within healthcare setting and the community. This event is part of a wider Singing for Health strategy in Sure Start.  The focus of the strategy is on the mental and physical health benefits of singing to parents and therefore, in turn, to their children.”


Sure Start Projects support families with children under 4 years old, living in disadvantaged areas.  They provide a range of programmes to enable parents to give their children the best start in life. Programmes aim to support a child’s language and learning skills, health and well-being, social and emotional development.





Sure Start Background Info

Sure Start is a Programme targeted at parents and children under the age of four living in the most disadvantaged areas. There are 38 Sure Start projects across Northern Ireland. It brings together health, family support and early education services which are designed to support children’s learning skills, health and well-being, and social and emotional development. Services are offered both in the home and in group based settings.  Each Sure Start Project has a Speech and Language Therapist to support the development of every child’s speech, language and communication.


Everyday Harmony (formerly Northern Ireland Music Therapy Trust)

Every Day Harmony is passionate about, and committed to supporting, people who find communication and interaction difficult. This may be for a defined period in someone’s life or as the result of a lifelong condition. We believe that because music is a fundamental part of being human, it crosses all barriers.


BHSCT Arts in Health

Belfast Trust’s Arts in Health Programme aims to offer better health and wellbeing through access to the arts for all who come into contact with Belfast Trust. For further information contact Paula McHugh, Arts in Health Manager