This week NI-CO is hosting a delegation from the Ministry of Welfare in Iceland. The group is visiting Northern Ireland under the auspices of an EU TAIEX funded initiative which has been designed to assist Iceland in implementing the UN convention on rights for people with disabilities. As well as exploring Northern Ireland’s journey from a health-led model of care to a social care model with the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, the group will be spending time with medical practitioners and staff from community resource centres across Northern Ireland which provide rehabilitation services for people suffering from mental health issues, drug and alcohol abuse and eating disorders.

When questioned about their forthcoming visit to Northern Ireland, Mr Thor Thorarinsson commented ‘In the coming negotiations relating to Iceland´s EU application and Chapter 19, it is important to get the Icelandic welfare service more in line with the current situation in most EU countries. It is invaluable to be able to draw upon different experiences. Even though culture can vary from country to country, these differences can be an important source to learn from. Such differences encourage a new way of thinking and thus result in new practices in the field. We are eager and enthusiastic to establish co-operation with Northern Ireland (NI) in the field of services for people with mental illnesses as they offer some of the most advanced services in the UK.’