Belfast Telegraph

Stormont ministers open Belfast's new Mencap centre and Martin McGuinness can't resist having a go on the trampoline

First Minister Arlene Foster, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, and Health Minister Simon Hamilton, have officially opened the new Mencap Centre in Belfast.

The new state-of-the-art centre will serve as a new model for early intervention services, providing key support services for young people with a learning disability and their families and carers.

The centre will provide support services, including a new children’s nursery; specialist treatment and activity rooms; a hub for young people to engage in arts and cultural programmes; and family meeting facilities, enabling peer support and information points for guidance and advice.

Ms Foster said: ”It is an honour to open this new £4.6million purpose built centre which will support those with a learning disability and their families right across Northern Ireland.

“The Northern Ireland Executive’s Disability strategy acknowledges that people with disabilities deserve to be treated equally alongside those without disabilities.

“The opening of this state of the art centre today reaffirms our commitment to addressing and removing the obstacles that people with disabilities face to ensure they have the same equality of opportunity and equality of treatment enjoyed by others in society.

“I am immensely proud of Northern Ireland and I want ensure that our young people and adults with a learning disability receive the support they need to reach their full potential and to live the life they want to lead.”

Mr McGuinness said: “One person in five is affected by a disability and one in four families will be affected at some stage in their life time by a disability. Disability impacts not just upon the individual, but upon the family, the carers, the friends and co-workers.

“This £4.6million state of the art facility is a major asset that will transform and improve the lives of everyone who comes through the door. It’s a game changer for the Learning Disability community and everyone who avails of their services.

“The Department of Health contributed £2.5million to the financing of this project. This financial backing combined with resolve and relentless drive of Mencap has resulted in this first class facility. 

“It’s an incredible place and one I feel will become the template for developments of this type in the future. It is much more than a new building as it will support outreach services across the north.”

The Centre was partly funded by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) through a £2.5m capital grant. 

Health Minister Simon Hamilton said:  “I am delighted to jointly open this impressive new building. The work and vision of Mencap in developing this inspirational facility, generously supported by all sectors, and the Northern Ireland public, is to be commended.  I am pleased that my Department was able to provide the initial £2.5million of funding, which has been fundamental, in making it a reality.

“Facilities such as these offer real opportunities and support for people with learning disabilities.  The Centre will enable Mencap to deliver existing, new and enhanced services to children; young people and adults with a learning disability and their families. 

Trampoline

During the official opening Mr McGuinness couldn't resist trying out of some of the new equipment. The Deputy First Minister opted for a go on the trampoline.

It's not the first time a member of Sinn Fein has hinted that they enjoy trampolines. Last year Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams revealed he enjoys trampolining naked with his dog.

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