The Big Day Out brings local Mencap Network Partners of learning disability and Gateway groups from across Northern Ireland together to explore how Mencap and the Network Partners can share learning, best practice and work better together. The event also gives groups the opportunity to find out what is going on across the wider Mencap network across England and Wales.

The ‘Big Day Out’ in Northern Ireland was led by Jan Tregelles, Mencap Chief Executive, Andrew Wilson, Mencap Trustee and Margaret Kelly, Mencap NI Director, is the first of five events planned by Mencap, the rest will take place in England and Wales in June 2017.

Jan Tregelles, Mencap Chief Executive

Jan Tregelles, Mencap Chief Executive said: “It was great to have the first ‘Big Day Out’ in Northern Ireland and to meet and see all the local groups visiting the Mencap Centre in Belfast and connecting with the work we do to support people with a learning disability. The theme of the day was collaboration and listening, key things to ensure that Mencap and our Network Partners are able to continue their work and support people with learning disabilities. It was a great success and such an inspiring day both learning and listening to our local partners and I am already looking forward to next years Big Day Out.”


Throughout the day the local groups took part in different workshops and advice sessions to help support and develop their work. Mencap delivered workshops on fundraising as well as information on how the Mencap Network Team can support local groups.

Other activities included a Volunteer Now workshops on recruiting and selecting volunteers, Ulster Rugby had a practical sports session, the Relationship Resource Centre delivered a workshop on friendship and relationships, there was a Makaton sign language class and Go Fly Your Kite ran an arts and crafts session where people built and designed their own kites.

John Paul McCusker, a Member of the Strule Buzz Group in Omagh

John Paul McCusker, a Member of the Strule Buzz Group in Omagh said: “I enjoyed today and the workshops were good. I had good fun and had a laugh and was smiling! I would come back again next time the event is on. You guys in Mencap hosted the event really well! Bye for now”


The Northern Ireland Big Day Out was also a great chance to meet people from different groups and to have bit of fun as well as learn new things. The marketplace area of information stalls offered more information to local groups on Mencap projects and services with information from Volunteer Now, Millennium Volunteers and a Round the World Challenge display. Roll on next year.  

Northern Ireland’s first ever Learning Disability Pride

Northern Ireland is to hold its first Learning Disability Pride Day on 27 May 2017. Carrickfergus and District Senior Gateway Club Leader, Thomas, and his fellow organisers hope it will inspire other Learning Disability Pride Days around the UK. 
Read more about Northern Ireland’s first ever Learning Disability Pride