The ONSIDE (Outreach & Navigation for Social Inclusion & Digital Engagement) programme was a cross border project led by Disability Action NI in partnership with the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, the Independent Living Movement Ireland, and Supporting Communities.
The project was supported by an award of €5.56m by the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme, a programme managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). Match-funding was also provided by the Departments of Health in Northern Ireland and Ireland.
Research showed the proportion of disabled people (13.3%) who report feeling lonely “often or always” is almost four times that of non-disabled people (3.4%), with the greatest disparity for young adults, aged 16 to 24 years old. (ONS, 2021). The ONSIDE project was a cross border project created to address the social isolation often experienced by disabled people. We wanted to enable and empower persons with disabilities to take control of their social connections.
ONSIDE sought to improve the life outcomes of people with disabilities living in Northern Ireland & the border counties in the Republic of Ireland. We offered a cross border community support service to support disabled people who were socially isolated.
What we did?
ONSIDE was available to (16+) persons with disabilities across Northern Ireland (Counties Antrim, Armagh, Derry, Down, Fermanagh & Tyrone); and the Border region of Ireland (Counties Louth, Monaghan, Cavan, Leitrim, Sligo & Donegal).
ONSIDE had a pan disability approach: working with people with physical, sensory, learning, mental health or hidden disabilities.
The Project started by offering digital training including the provision of a laptop to participants.
Providing tailored 1-2-1 support and training, ONSIDE enabled participants to gain independence, choice and control over their social connections and become active in their local and online communities. The project was pan-disability and all services were free, independent and impartial.
We carried out Peer Research, steered and conducted by people who lived experience of disability. ONSIDE wanted to identify and address the social and physical barriers that create social isolation for disabled people.
ONSIDE created a digital hub for persons with disabilities, highlighting local health and wellbeing services and community services and engagement opportunities.
ONSIDE also offered participants Peer Volunteer support made possible by past participants and disability advocates. Our Peer Volunteers helped, trained and supported participants through their ONSIDE journey.