Belfast Telegraph

New Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People appointed

By Amanda Ferguson

The director of Include Youth has been appointed as the next Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People.

Koulla Yiasouma will leave Include Youth in the new year to take up the post promoting the rights of children and young people which is currently held by Patricia Lewsley-Mooney.

Ms Lewsley-Mooney is leaving the £75,000 per year job she began in January 2007 as she will have served the maximum two terms associated with the role by January 7, 2015.

Koulla Yiasouma has been the director of Include Youth for 16 years.

It works to improve life for vulnerable and disadvantaged young people throughout Northern Ireland.

Ms Yiasouma said: “It is a massive honour to have been appointed to the post of Commissioner for Children and Young People and I look forward to continuing the work that Patricia Lewsley-Mooney has begun.

"I am looking forward to working with all sectors, particularly government, to ensure the full implementation of the rights of children and young people across Northern Ireland.

"It is however with a heavy heart that I am leaving Include Youth after 16 wonderful years as Director. 

"As the voluntary sector enters into uncertain times I shall spend the next three months working with the Board and management of the Include Youth to ensure the continued success of the organisation.”

Tony Martin, chair of Include Youth Board, wished her well in the new job.

“It is with a degree of sadness that we say farewell to Koulla, a proven champion for the rights and best interests of the most vulnerable and marginalised children and young people in our society," he said.

“Include Youth’s Board, staff, volunteers and young people are immensely proud of the way Koulla has led this organisation and will miss her contribution to our work greatly.

“The role of the Commissioner is a vitally important one where real difference can be made to the lives of all children and young people, but especially those who need our protection and support the most.

“I would like to thank Koulla for all of her hard work and commitment over the last 16 years, working closely with the Board and staff team to grow Include Youth into the wonderful organisation it is today.

"She is leaving Include Youth in a very healthy state and we remain committed to delivering services that improve the lives of marginalised children and young people in our communities.

"We wish her every success in her new position as champion of children’s rights and know she will make a huge positive impact to the lives of all children and young people in Northern Ireland.”

Patricia Lewsley-Mooney also congratulated her successor.

“I look forward to Koulla Yiasouma carrying on the work that began in 2003 to safeguard and promote the rights and best interests of Northern Ireland’s children and young people. I wish her every success in this vital role," she said.

“While I am sad to be leaving what I regard as the best job in the world, I am also very proud of what has been achieved so far.

“I’d like to thank and pay tribute to my staff and Youth Panel for their commitment and support over the past eight years.”

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