Education Minister Photo Launch

We are thrilled to have Education Minister Michelle McIlveen launch the external evaluation of Women’s Aid Helping Hands and Social Guardian Training, together with Alison Fraser, The National Lottery Community Fund who kindly funded the evaluation carried out by Dr Helga Sneddon, Outcomes Imps.

The findings of the evaluation are extremely positive with some of the overall findings showing:-

  • The Helping Hands programme and subsequent two-day Social Guardian training have been successfully implemented in primary schools across Northern Ireland. There have been positive changes to practice and improved outcomes reported for children.

Overall, the attendees at the training (teachers) were very satisfied with the content and delivery:-

  • 97% felt better able to teach PDMU as a result of the training
  • 98% felt better prepared to help children deal with unsafe feelings
  • 93% of teachers felt they were Social Guardians

Education Minister, Michelle McIlveen, commented:
“I am encouraged to read the positive findings contained within the Evaluation and that this training continues to be available for Primary School teachers across NI. I am particularly pleased to see the roll out of the new Refresher Course, a key recommendation.”

The Helping Hands delivered by teachers within the classroom has three key messages for children:

“We all have the right to feel safe all the time”

“There is nothing so awful (or so small) that we cannot talk about it with someone”

“Others have the right to feel safe with us”

Alison Fraser, The National Lottery Community Fund, commented:-
“We were delighted to be able to support Women’s Aid to deliver an external evaluation of their successful Social Guardian and Helping Hands training delivered across Primary Schools in Northern Ireland. Dr Helga Sneddon’s findings provide clear recommendations to continue the roll out of this training.”

Sarah Mason, CEO of Women’s Aid Federation Northern Ireland, said:
“Women’s Aid are committed to tackling Domestic Abuse through delivery of preventative education across all settings. The success of our Social Guardian and Helping Hands Training shows the commitment of Department of Education, Schools and Teachers to work with us on this issue. We are incredibly proud of this two-day teacher training which is now in year eleven of delivery with 1,613 primary school teachers across 575 schools in Northern Ireland participating to date. We are pleased to announce that a further roll out of this two-day programme will take place this year together with a new Refresher Course, one of the key recommendations within the evaluation.”


For further media information, please contact:
Sonya McMullan
Regional Services Manager
Tel: 07795097750

Sarah Mason
CEO, Women’s Aid Federation
Tel: 07894352065

Additional Statistics

  • Teachers trained to date: 1,613 from 575 primary schools
  • The PSNI recorded 31,196 domestic abuse incidents and 19,036 domestic abuse crimes
  • Police responded to a domestic abuse incident every 17 minutes
  • 12 women have been murdered in NI since lockdown began in March 2020
  • 530 women and 319 children stayed in Women’s Aid refuges
  • 6,005 women and 6,450 children accessed outreach support through Women’s Aid
  • 10 babies were born in Women’s Aid refuges
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