West Belfast is continuing to make giant strides in technology with Newhill First Steps Childcare Centre becoming the latest facility to embrace the wide and wonderful world of ICT.

Last week we reported how St Oliver Plunkett Primary welcomed 60 spanking new Apple iPad 2 devices to its Glen Road premises and how Holy Trinity Primary became the first in the Belfast Education and Library Board area to be awarded the prestigious ICT Mark. Now Newhill First Steps is using Facebook to accept admissions to the modern facility.

The innovative new development means that parents can book their children into the state-of-the-art Old Whiterock Road centre online.

“This is a community-led organisation and always has been,” said the centre’s Services Manager Maura Fryers.

“This purpose-built building has been operating since 2006 but the childcare has been ongoing in the community since 1990. It was built up by this community and for this community and we always strive to make things better for the kids and easier for parents. The Facebook site is an extension of that.”

Children and staff of First Steps probably thought they couldn’t have it any better. Nestled at the foot of Black Mountain, they are in a rural yet urban setting and the bright and airy indoor space merely complements the outside play areas which are overlooked by passing cows in the nearby fields. Now the parents are set to benefit too as Newhill make the facility more accessible.

“From Thursday we will be accepting online bookings via our Facebook page. We realise parents are busy and it can be easier for them to log on to the internet and book their child in rather than having to telephone the centre. Bookings for Newhill after schools project are also welcome through our Facebook page so we are catering to a huge age group, from zero to four, with us at First Steps, then for schoolchildren too. This place is full of life and character and it’s a fitting building for the community so we hope this new additional service will continue to see us grow.”

Local Sinn Féin councillor Stevie Corr agreed.

“A recent poverty report shows West Belfast as the worst in the North for child poverty, the Upper Springfield and Whiterock would be in the top three worst-off wards in the constituency. This is an entirely affordable first-rate childcare facility that is community-led so it is unique, it’s also a pure social economy business so every penny goes back into the community.

“I welcome this imaginative idea for bringing in custom via Facebook and I hope that more people will use this facility as it’s a rural idyll in the middle of a bustling area.”

n Check out Newhill First Steps on Facebook or log on to www.newhillfirststeps.com