Be the Change Colleges

Be the Change Colleges

Be the Change Colleges is a unique programme for student teachers to make a difference in their community and to gain vital experience in working with newcomer children in Northern Ireland. 

Be the Change Colleges

Be the Change Colleges is a unique programme for student teachers to enhance their professional skills and gain vital experience in working with newcomer children in Northern Ireland.

Since 2014, Saphara has brought teaching students from St Mary’s and Stranmillis University Colleges together for a professional development opportunity in working with children living in disadvantaged communities, creating spaces where self-worth and confidence can flourish in spite of many challenges.

In the past, this programme focused on a journey to India to work with children living in marginalised slum communities. Since 2020 and the onset of Covid, we have recreated the programme to focus on children living in disadvantaged communities locally, specifically newcomer refugee children attending primary schools in areas of social deprivation.

The inaugural Saphara Newcomer week was piloted with 50 primary school children, with 23 different mother tongues, and 20 teaching students at Stranmillis University College in April 2022.

“To say [Be the Change week] was an eyeopener would be an understatement. The children that you work with are among the most caring, funny and gracious children that I’ve ever come across… the week of planning, delivering and reflection that we took part in was an opportunity to gain invaluable experiences and develop transferrable skills that will be great and useful in many situations”- Clodagh, St Mary’s College

“The planning was so much fun, working with St Mary’s and Stranmillis together…. When I look back on Be the Change Week I take away many things, but through my personal reflection I realised one thing. The ability and willingness to hand control over to the children … is most successful in delivering a programme like this.”- Jordan, Stranmillis College

Saphara Be the Change programme had an exciting and vibrant start as we celebrated being able to meet and learn together in person once again. Our team of 20 committed students from Stranmillis and St Mary’s University Colleges joined together for a week of planning, reflecting and delivering a programme of inclusive learning to 50 Primary 7 children from Fane Street Primary School and St Paul’s Primary School. The theme of “My Story, Our Town” gave opportunity to the children, many of whom were newcomer children, to reflect upon identity and belonging, celebrating how our individual stories and cultures can work together to make Belfast a welcoming city for everyone.

From games and dancing to crafts and sharing stories, the children learned many valuable lessons as they were enthusiastically guided by our hardworking team of Saphara college students. Mrs Emma Brown, Fane Street Primary School, said:

“My children are loving making friends with the children from St Paul's. We are so pleased that Saphara is providing this Shared Education experience, we haven't had any opportunity over the past 2 years."- Mrs Brown, Fane Street PS

Out of the 50 primary school pupils, a phenomenal 23 languages were represented. This highlights the importance of the Saphara Be the Change programme as we work to help newcomer children in Northern Ireland, not only supporting their English language skills, but celebrating the diversity and richness they are bringing to Northern Ireland as displayed in their wonderful creations of “My Story, Our Town”.

Check out how one of the groups, Team Zebras, did below:

Support us

Saphara believes that every child is of immense value and worth and that education is key to enabling disadvantaged youth to overcome poverty. The charity focuses on educational projects which build capacity, and strategic interventions which empower young people. Saphara works in partnership with local schools and NGOs that can demonstrate buy-in and ownership from local communities. These are uniquely placed to effect long-term and sustainable change.

Our Programmes


Be the Change Schools

Each year we partner with secondary schools across NI to deliver Be the Change Award to 150 sixth-form students.


Be the Change India

We partner with schools and NGOs in India to support their vital work providing education for all.


Be the Change Girls

There are 15 million girls worldwide who are never expected to enrol in school. We want to change that.

Latest Blog Posts

Keep up to date with our latest news and updates!

An update from Christine – India Visit May 2022

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Saphara Be the Change Newcomer week 2022

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