Skip to main content

Your web browser is not fully supported by BBC Children in Need, so parts of the website may not function correctly.

Ullans Speakers Association

Louise Morrow is the Chairperson of The Ullans Speakers Association in Ballymoney, Northern Ireland.  She uses her musical expertise and talent to bring art, music and support to many children affected by poverty. We spoke with Louise about the importance of the work that Ullans Speakers Association does to help instil confidence and give support to children in their local community.

Louise: I’ve been teaching music for over thirty years. I’m the Chairperson but music is my forte. I come from a small market town where there was nothing for children and I wanted to make sure there was something for them here. I worked in a rural Primary School with only sixty children in total. I wanted to do something more for them, we started the music workshops in the summer holidays- the whole school came! Everything developed from there. We also do cookery, so they’re learning other essential life skills too.

BBC CiN: Tell us about some of the children you support at Ullans Speakers Association.

Louise: I worked with a child who was very shy and struggled to communicate. She told me that she’d love to play piano but she didn’t have one. My sister had a keyboard that my niece had twenty years ago, it was old but it worked! She worried that she wouldn’t be good enough. I told her: ‘Anyone can play the piano! You just have to put your finger on the key.’ I was teaching another young boy at the time so invited her to come along to watch. I knew it would be good for her to see his confidence. We then agreed I would teach her for fifteen minutes after each club. The first week wasn’t easy, she had very low self-esteem. I reminded her it was ok and that it takes time, but when someone has no confidence, it’s very hard.

But we persevered, and she started to play, she was a natural! She was fearful about putting herself forward for exams but after building more trust, she went for it and passed with no problems. Time passed, she grew in confidence and I asked if we would help me by volunteering and she said yes. She looks at me as someone who cares and looks out for her. She’s a Junior Leader for us now.

BBC CiN: How has Ullans Speakers Association coped with the difficulties over the past few years- what observations have you made?

Louise: There isn’t the same money for music, even when the lessons are subsidised. I’ve also noticed since the pandemic it’s harder for children to focus and interact with each other. We’ve been going back to using old-fashioned board games and teaching children how to be caring towards one another. They’ve been so used to being on their own. One child was struggling to make friends at school and some of the other children told me he was a good singer. I got him involved and he’s a different child now. He just didn’t know how to ask and was feeling frustrated. It’s just about instilling confidence, children just want to play and be with other people! Music is really therapeutic. Especially piano, when you put your finger on the key, you get lost in music and you don’t focus on anything else.

BBCCin: Have you experienced an increase in numbers since the cost of living crisis?

Louise: I used to have twenty-seven children. Now there’s another fourteen. We also make sure they heave a meal when they come here. We made pizzas last week, they love my chicken curry too!

BBCCin: What would your message be for people who fundraise for BBC Children in Need?

Louise: Just do it. I can’t say enough good about BBC Children in Need. The money really helps so get out there and do something! I love what I do with the children. I don’t have children of my own but this is my vocation. I know I can give so much to these kids.

addbankCN0891 Icons for Resources - No Background calendarCN0891 Icons for Resources - No Background CN0891 Icons for Resources - No Background CN0891 Icons for Resources - No Background chevron-down chevron-lchevron-rchevron-upcommentcross>CN0891 Icons for Resources - No Background detect-locationdocumentdownloadCN0891 Icons for Resources - No Background emailembedexportfavouritefilterhelphomeinfoiphone iplayer liveCN0891 Icons for Resources - No Background more-horizontalmore-verticalphonepingitpostCN0891 Icons for Resources - No Background quote-end quote-open searchsettingsshareshowcase-threads social-facebook social-instagram social-linkedin CN0891 Icons for Resources - No Background social-pinterest social-twitter social-youtube sounds CN0891 Icons for Resources - No Background CN0891 Icons for Resources - No Background ticktimeCN0891 Icons for Resources - No Background puzzle-shelfAsset 1