‘Match Me – what works for effective allocations of adapted/ accessible social housing in Scotland’ Posted 3.6.2019 This reflection highlights the enablement of two self-identified disabled individuals involved with the DRILL funded project: ‘Match Me – what works for effective allocations of adapted/ accessible social housing in Scotland’. Project Context Match Me was a 21 month research project looking into the allocation of adapted and accessibly designed social housing for disabled house seekers/tenants. The project examined what works and what does not. The project partners included Horizon Housing, Housing Options Scotland and the University of Stirling. Three local authority case study areas took part in the research. The project tracked the lived experiences of twenty-eight households with a disabled social housing applicants/new tenant over course of one year. Each household was interviewed twice. Alongside this, observations were carried out into the allocation systems used by the three local authority case studies. Match Me used a co-production approach through steerage from a Project Advisory Board, recruitment of three self-identified disabled Peer Researchers and delivery of three all day feedback and discussion sessions held within each of the local authority case study areas. Match Me Research Assistant Hello, I’m Dr Dianne-Dominique Theakstone. I worked as a Research Assistant on the Match Me project. I’m registered blind, thirty-six years old and live in Stirling. I was involved with the early inception of the research and all the way through the pilot study in 2016. My support needs as an early career researcher are mainly around access to written information and sighted-guide assistance during field work in unfamiliar environments. The national scheme called Access to Work provided funding for a support worker. I worked three days a week on the Match Me project and utilised twelve hours of support worker services. My support worker was able to help me access pdf files, for instance, which were inaccessible for my laptop with Jaws (a type of speech software). My support worker assisted me to navigate websites especially where there was a lot of information to skim read or where there were inaccessible features, such as unlabelled buttons for Jaws to recognise. My support worker would proof read written materials that I produced and help with the creation of PowerPoint presentations for local authority feedback sessions. I conducted interviews with disabled social housing applicants/tenants in their homes or in public spaces. Although I’m a Guide Dog Owner, I currently have Merlin a very handsome three-year-old black lab, I need to know a route in order to give Merlin instructions on where to guide me. Being totally blind I also found social interactions within group environments challenging due to the lack of eye contact. My support worker would assist in group settings during the project by alerting specific individuals that I wished to speak to them or by distributing project materials on my behalf. I’m grateful to DRILL for providing the opportunity for me to work as a Research Assistant on such a fantastic project which produced a unique robust evidence-base around disabled social housing applicants/tenants lived experiences. I’m aware of the challenges facing disabled people in general who seek employment. The Match Me project greatly developed my skills as an early career researcher, especially in the area of supervision of peer researchers. I found everybody on the Match Me team inspiring and I look forward to taking my confidence and passion forward in future co-production research. Match Me Peer Researcher Hello, I’m Zack (not my real name) and I was a Peer Researcher on the Match Me project. I chose anonymity while taking part on the project. I’m in my sixties, registered blind and live in a rural location in Scotland. The role was attractive to me because it enabled me to work with Disabled persons while trying to seek out the problems, they may be experiencing in finding suitable adapted accommodation. This was relevant as I had a poor experience of housing issues when I became classed as disabled. My experience of the Match Me project was I met some inspirational people both as interviewees and people in the project itself. I found that the training for the Peer Researcher role created a supportive environment. The training session lasted 4 hours. The first half covered an overview of the project, the peer researcher role, gaining consent, PVG checks and travel expenses. The second half focused on key terms used in interviews (such as informed consent and anonymity), field work safety procedures, good listening skills, the interview schedule and a mock interview which I enjoyed. The Research Assistants were very supportive in enabling me to shadow a few interviews before supervising my interview skills. I found that the main challenges in my area is it consists of very remote areas. Even when public transport is usable, such as trains, there can still be problems when engineering work is undertaken as the main station is unable to accommodate relief bus services by the entrance to the station. This involves a very long walk away from the station and unfortunately there is no passenger assistance either to or from the replacement service. Local bus services are limited as well as not reliable. Fortunately, the Match Me project was very accommodating over travel expenses, normally refunded on the same day or following, which enabled the Peer Researcher to fulfil their role. I would finally add that the whole experience was astounding, and I would definitely get involved in another project with the team. I’m already recruited to help out as a Peer Researcher on another co-production project called ‘My Support My Choice: users’ experiences of Self-directed Support in Scotland’ run by Self Directed Support Scotland and the Health and Social Care Alliance. I recently graduated with a BA (Hons) in Media Studies and I’m looking forward to remaining an active ambassador and role model for local disability related organisations. DRILL (Disability Research on Independent Living and Learning) is an innovative 5 year UK wide Programme led by disabled people, for disabled people and funded by the National Lottery Community Fund (NLCF). Click here to read more about DRILL.