Mencap Children's Centre in Belfast provides a unique specialist learning environment for children, and support and advice to families.
The service works in partnership with the Belfast Health & Social Care Trust.
At Mencap we ensure your child is cared for and supported to learn and play in a therapeutic environment, so he/she can develop skills and achieve goals that would take much longer to establish without specialist expertise and support.
Each child is assessed
A team of therapists including physiotherapists, speech and language therapists and occupational therapists are based at the Mencap Centre and will carry out assessments with your child and agree an Individual Programme Plan with you.
This plan will set out goals and targets for the therapy your child needs. The Mencap key worker staff supported by the therapy team then work to this and regularly review progress with you.
Every child has a key worker
We have nine qualified and dedicated key workers, working in a ratio of one key worker to three children. They observe and assess your child and will provide an Individual learning plan so your child is following the curriculum at the correct pace for them.
Working directly with your child, the key worker will record their progress and revise their learning plan accordingly.
Each child will follow an appropriate curriculum
Our key workers deliver a broad and balanced curriculum through a range of activities including art, sensory activities, group work, soft play, music time and circle time.
These activities are often built around monthly themes (including shapes, colours, seasons etc) and are designed to give the children the opportunity to develop skills and work towards achieving their goals.
We will support your child to develop life skills
Key workers also give your child the care and support they need to develop self-help skills (such as dressing / undressing) and basic hygiene (such as brushing teeth after meals and washing hands after toileting). We also promote healthy eating and encourage children to try new foods at snack times and lunch times.
Making sure your child has fun and a chance to make friends
As well as playing in our new Mencap Centre during the year we offer an annual summer programme that gives your child the chance to enjoy a wide range of in-house activities. Last year we enjoyed visits from the Assisi Animal Sanctuary, The Dogs' Trust and even some jungle animals!
The children were able to participate in sensory activities and soft play and made great models from junk art.
We are looking forward to having even more fun this year and now that we are in our new centre we have bigger and better play facilities including an accessible outdoor playground.
Special events at Mencap Centre
We invite family and friends to join us to celebrate children's talents at our special events.
All families and friends are invited to join us for our nativity performances in December. Each child has their own part to play in the nativity story, making it a very special occasion.
The children work hard throughout their year and our end of year graduation recognises and celebrates their individual efforts. Another very special day!
At Mencap we are currently developing new family support services and activities that we believe will be really useful to families and that will add to the all-round care and support we offer to your child in order to give them, and you, the best possible start in life.
Mencap Centre is a family-friendly place and is as much for the parents and families as it is for the children using the early years’ service.
We know that many parents will still be adjusting to the fact their child may have a lifelong disability and that this can be an emotional and challenging time, so we operate an ‘open door' policy in order to provide you with as much support and advice as possible.
Parents from the Belfast Trust will be invited to bring their child to the nursery for a clinic day. During this visit your child will be assessed by the therapists and the consultant paediatrician. You will have the opportunity to discuss your child’s progress with each of these professionals.
It is an ideal opportunity for you to raise any issues that concern you and for us to find out if there's anything else we can do for you.
We offer monthly workshops to all parents on a range of topics including statementing advice, feeding and early communication, sleep and behaviour, and play and learning.
These are facilitated by both Mencap staff and outside agencies, who aim to provide practical advice and support to families. Family carers (grandparents, aunties and uncles) are welcome too!
Coffee and chat
We offer regular coffee and chat mornings when parents can meet together in a relaxed atmosphere. It is a great chance to catch up, make new friends and share ideas and advice.
The coffee and chats are held in the Mencap Centre where you can access a range of information, detailing various events and support groups that you might like to attend.Therapy information events
The therapy team based at the centre hold regular therapy evenings for parents and family members to provide you with information about the therapies your child is receiving and techniques to help you support your child.
Makaton is the main form of communication for a considerable number of children in the centre. Our speech and language therapists provide excellent support in the use of Makaton in the early years’ service and also provide training for parents and siblings so that you can communicate with your child at home and help develop their communication skills further.
The key workers send home a monthly newsletter to let you know what topics, colours and shapes we will be learning about, as well as any birthdays or special events happening in the nursery.
The key workers write in your child's diary to let you know about all aspects of your child's day (activities, meals, toileting etc) You can also use this to pass on any information that you think the key worker might need to know (medication required, appointments etc).