Five Children’s Commissioners visited the Mencap Children’s Centre in Belfast today, to explore the importance of early support for children with a learning disability and their parents.  

The Mencap Children’s Centre is a unique specialist learning environment for children with a learning disability, autism and developmental delay, which is run in partnership with the Belfast Health Trust.

Margaret Kelly, Director of Mencap NI said: “We are delighted to welcome the Children’s Commissioners from across the UK, Republic of Ireland and even Australia to our Children’s Centre to share our early intervention work with children and families. The earlier children with a learning disability and their families get support the more likely they are to fulfil their potential, giving children the best start in life.”

The Commissioners from Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Republic of Ireland, Jersey and Australia are visiting Belfast as part of the quarterly meeting of the ‘British and Irish Network of Ombudsman and Children’s Commissioners’ (BINOCC), and includes the National Children's Commissioner for Australia who is on a visit to the UK. 

Koulla Yiasouma, NI Commissioner for Children and Young People said: “My colleagues from across the UK and Ireland were aware of the excellent work going on at Mencap so we are taking some time out to meet the inspirational children, their families and staff at the state-of-the-art facility. We’re always keen to share best practice and benchmark services for children and young people across the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland to help ensure all children are given the best possible start in life. 

The Children’s Commissioners on the visit include Sally Holland, Children’s Commissioner for Wales, Dr Niall Muldoon, Ombudsman for Children in Ireland, Deborah McMillan, Children's Commissioner for Jersey and Megan Mitchell, National Children's Commissioner, Australia.  

The ‘British and Irish Network of Ombudsman and Children’s Commissioners’ (BINOCC) meet to provide updates on developments within their countries, share information, approaches and strategies for the benefit of children and young people. Current issues include Brexit, digital rights and implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which marks its 30th anniversary in November this year.