Wishing Well Family Centre was founded in the Alliance Crescent area of North Belfast in 1989 by a local resident called Linda Mooney, during the period of the Troubles and amidst one of the most fractious interfaces across not only Belfast but Northern Ireland. Over the past 30 years the organisation has gone from strength to strength, becoming a thriving social enterprise which offers genuine opportunities for cross community interaction and development through the provision of high quality services for children, young people, families, senior citizens and the wider community within Upper Ardoyne / Ardoyne and North Belfast.
The catchment of the facilities and services provided at Wishing Well includes some of the most disadvantaged communities in Belfast, with the area blighted by high levels of unemployment, low levels of educational attainment, high levels of crime and anti-social behaviour, inter community issues and areas of dereliction particularly directly on the interface between Ardoyne / Upper Ardoyne. The centre is accessible to all communities in the area, offering a range of pre-school, childcare and out of schools services for children and their families, family support, facilitating community activity and meetings and also delivering an environmental project on a daily basis for members of the wider community.
The core focus of the organisation is the provision of services to local children and their families, giving much needed support to parents and promoting the physical, mental and educational development of local children aged 0 – 12 years of age. From an original staff of 2, Wishing Well employs 35 full and part time members of staff and has become one of the largest employers in the area.
Wishing Well Family Centre is registered as a Company Limited by Guarantee at Companies House, Charity by HMRC and the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland. It has an annual turnover of over £400,000 per annum. Income is generated through a mix of Service Level Agreements with Belfast Trust and Education Authority Belfast, public funding from a number of sources, fees charged for the provision of services and income from general fundraising activities and donations.
The organisation operates best practice policies and procedures as a charitable organisation and also as a community based provider of childcare, pre-school and out of school services to children.
Funding from the Social Investment Fund has allowed Wishing Well to build this new extension and develop high quality facilities that are neutral and accessible to all communities. The investment has provided facilities, namely a 24 place pre-school, 24 place out-of school, a sensory room used also for baby drop in and midwifery services, office space and a kitchen that meets demand for community space in the area as well as contributing to the physical economic regeneration of North Belfast.
Current services include a Day Nursery (70 places), which incorporates a baby and toddler unit (6 weeks–2 years), a junior playgroup (2-3 years) and a senior playgroup (3+). Wishing Well operates a pre-school group (24 places), funded by the Education Authority, an out of schools group (24 places). Other activities include a volunteer environmental project, advice surgeries on a drop in basis, Sure Start services and courses, seasonal holiday schemes, a local bus service, volunteering and training opportunities and educational support to students and trainees. In May 2019 we won Best Crèche in the North of Belfast and in June 2019, best Community Day-care Out-Door L earning Environment with Families First.
In Wishing Well, it is the team who have the greatest influence on the smooth running of the organisation and its ability to fulfil its vision and mission by offering support to families, responding in a caring and open way to social, educational, economic and environmental needs within our community.
Wishing Well demonstrates excellence in its personal practice and maintains positive partnerships with statutory agencies, local nurseries, schools and groups as well a host of children’s professionals. Strong links with its community and local neighbourhood partnerships have led to community ownership of the Centre and this has had a very positive impact on the wellbeing and progress of their children. These relationships have been developed and sustained through good practise, transparency and an ethos that promotes equality, diversity and inclusion for all.