COVID-19 - How it has impacted the ONSIDE Project

COVID-19 arrived unexpectedly and abruptly for us all. Connecting online with family and friends quickly became the norm but what about those who were not online? As a team we collectively, and strategically pooled our strengths to establish a way forward for the ONSIDE project. 

Online connection was being dubbed the new ‘normal’ – we knew digital uptake was low within the disabled community so we refocused our efforts on equipping and digitally up-skilling as many participants as possible.  We also maintained regular contact with past and present participants to offer support or just an ear to listen. 

How we adhere to COVID-19 guidelines

We are now focused on providing person-centred support across all areas of the project via telephone, email and on-line software. We now deliver digital training to participants via Zoom. Prior to training, an ONSIDE team member delivers an android tablet and printed support materials to the participants door (whilst adhering to COVID-19 guidelines). During training the the team also provide 1-2-1 support (support is determined by participants’ level of IT skills). Once participants are confident online, our Community Navigators will then map out tailored social connections e.g. online hobbies, online health & well-being classes and social media platforms, based on participants’ interests and needs so they can independently create community connections. 

Social Media campaign ‘ONSIDE – on your side

The first lockdown of 2020 was an unknown entity for us all. The rapid change in lifestyle, Government guidelines and news headlines left many of our participants, their families, support teams and carers more isolated and alone than ever before. As a team we decided to use our social media to inform and empower participants.

Over an 8-week period we used our social media platforms to deliver advice, information and signposting on a range of disability topics and issues affecting our participants and their families – double click on icons below to download relevant factsheets. Please contact us if you would like any of the factsheets available in an alternative format.

Participant feedback on ONSIDE support during COVID-19:

Many participants said being able to connect with family and friends online during the lockdown helped reduce feelings of social isolation; and because they were able to remain living independently, (banking online, ordering groceries, prescriptions and personal services online) this also reduced feelings of anxiety and stress (watch video opposite). 

Having gained their new digital skills and tablets, participants continue to grow post-project. Many socialise regularly with family and friends online and have created meaningful connections taking part in online hobbies, classes and forums.

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