Northern Ireland news

Disadvantaged children from Sure Start programme enjoy special afternoon with Father Christmas at landmark Titanic Belfast building

Evelyn Erhabor and her children Amy, Danielle and Isiah from Sure Start, are pictured with one of Titanic Belfast’s Magical Christmas Experience’s elves. Picture by Darren Kidd

DISADVANTAGED children from the Sure Start support programme spent a special afternoon with Father Christmas, Mrs Claus and their elves at Belfast's landmark Titanic building.

Fifteen families from East Belfast Sure Start watched Santa arrive in his sleigh pulled by two of his reindeers and were the first to step through the Old Curiosity Shop into the Elves' Workshop.

They also joined Mrs Claus at her cosy kitchen, heard Christmas tales and enjoyed festive games before looking up their names on the naughty or nice list before meet Father Christmas himself.

Sure Start works with families with children under the age of four in the 25 per cent most disadvantaged areas in Northern Ireland to improve health, social development and the ability to learn by promoting parents' involvement.

East Belfast coordinator Tracey Wilson said said it had been a welcome boost to parents during what can be a stressful time.

"Christmas can be a difficult time and we are so grateful to Titanic Belfast for giving our `Peer Support' and `Young Mums' families a break from the stress of the festive season through this unique event," she said.

"The festive season can be a wonderful time for families to be together and create some lovely memories.

"It is also the perfect opportunity to talk to your child, sing songs and read stories, which will not only help them learn to talk and concentrate but also make friends, so this Christmas, we are encouraging everyone to make any time chatting time."

Titanic Belfast chief executive Judith Owens said they were "really pleased to host local families from Sure Start together and hope we have added something special to the lives of these very deserving families".

Titanic Belfast's Magical Christmas Experience runs until 23 December, to book, visit www.titanicbelfast.com.

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