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Health and Social Care
Disability Action NI
This project was funded by more than €4.6 million under the Health theme of INTERREG VA. Led by the charity, Disability Action, its aim was to improve the lives and social connections of disabled people in Northern Ireland and the border counties of Ireland.
The Outreach & Navigation for Social Inclusion and Digital Engagement – or ONSIDE - project was funded by more than €4.6 million under the Health theme of INTERREG VA.
Led by the charity, Disability Action, its aim was to improve the lives and social connections of disabled people in Northern Ireland and the border counties of Ireland. Using peer research, ONSIDE identified and addressed both the social and physical barriers that create social isolation for people with disabilities.
The project strove to create connections for disabled people, both digitally and within their own communities. Participants were offered devices with training and one-to-one support enabling them to become socially connected online.
It was launched in March 2020, just before the first Covid-19 lockdown. At that point no-one could have foreseen the scale of the global pandemic. But ONSIDE might have been specifically tailored to enable some of those most affected by lockdowns.
Although the project faced challenges where equipment was delayed and face-to-face training hindered, it trained and enabled more than 2,400 disabled people to get online and connect with others - all the while ensuring participants retained their own identities.
Nigel Flynn, a project participant and peer volunteer said:
It’s about having a bit of meaning and purpose to your life. That becomes really important when you’re disabled – you’re isolated and you’re stuck in the house and you’re lonely, for want of a better word. As a wheelchair user I don’t go out much – I wanted to do something, and I wanted to try and overcome this idea of disability. Once you have a bit of meaning, it helps your self-esteem.