ONSIDE project staff at the launch event
ONSIDE kicked off in 2019 with DANI, NIHE and ILMI staff teams all involved in outreach activity to promote the project and to identify possible participants. For safeguarding it was decided that project participants should be aged over 16.
Later in the project we ran a co -production project to engage with under-16s in recognition that social exclusion can be learned early and that young people’s voices deserve to be heard.
DANI and NIHE identified potential participants from Northern Ireland with around 20 per cent coming from the Housing Executive as their tenants. Independent Living Movement Ireland identified around 650 people in the border regions who fit the criteria for taking part, which was broadly having a physical, mental, learning, sensory or hidden disability and being socially isolated.
Housing Executive and Disability Action ONSIDE staff.
We ran a successful pilot project in the North West and Donegal with participants and ONSIDE staff at that time able to meet in person for digital training and to facilitate community connections. Participants were assisted in finding opportunities that matched their interests with some taking up volunteering roles and enrolling for further education.
Working on a plan for personal development was challenging to some, if you have never been asked ‘what are your interests’ or ‘what would you like to do’ it can be difficult to answer.
The good working relationships formed across the Partner organisations in these early days proved invaluable when we had to quickly revise all our plans to remote delivery.
We also developed a strong social media presence which has proven invaluable throughout the project.