Peer advocates and volunteers
Peer advocacy is one-to-one support provided by a person with a similar disability or experience to others using a service. Peer Advocates helped train and support ONSIDE participants to create community connections.
Many ONSIDE participants were IT beginners and the one-to-one support they received from Peer Advocates was essential in building their confidence and providing advice from lived experience.
The Peer Volunteer programme, perhaps more than any other dimension of the Project, met the ONSIDE project’s key aim of reducing isolation for disabled people and empowering them to become active citizens. This is evidenced in the testimony of many of our volunteers. You can watch more testimonials on our Youtube Channel.
Nigel on Citizenship
Peer Volunteer Experience
The Peer Advocate role was twofold: they not only used their digital skills to teach and support participants, for instance joining a Zoom call or downloading a new app on their tablet, but they also supported participants in joining and taking part in online communities to build social connections through sites like Facebook or WhatsApp or by involvement in myriad online courses ranging from cookery to photography, to even an interest in breeding pygmy goats in one particular case!
Throughout the project we have worked with in excess of 180 volunteers. Almost half of our volunteers – 47% – had previously completed the training and stayed on to help others.
As well as those involved in peer support many others have assisted us with research and in co-production. We gathered 43 personal stories of people’s lived experience of the barriers they have experienced and how they overcame them as inspiration to others.
Volunteers also identified 400 services toward our on-line Directory of Services.
Their contribution has been immense and continues even though ONSIDE has formally concluded.