Posted 12.03.2020

ONSIDE is a new cross border project which aims to improve the health and wellbeing of disabled people living in Northern Ireland and the border regions. At the project launch today (12 March 2020) in the Millennium Forum, Derry~Londonderry, attendees heard how ONSIDE will increase participants social and digital involvement in the community.

The project is 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 has also been provided by the Departments of Health in Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Minister for Health Robin Swann MLA said: “The ONSIDE project clearly aligns with our Health and Wellbeing 2026 healthcare transformation strategy, with a strong emphasis on co-production, community-based services and reducing social isolation. In the current challenging financial climate, the substantial European funding contribution which is helping to facilitate this project is greatly welcomed. It will deliver significant benefits through improving access to support services for disabled people living in remote and rural areas, ultimately yielding positive outcomes for its participants in terms of improved social engagement, independence and wellbeing.”

Minister for Health Simon Harris TD said: “Ireland’s citizens have benefited greatly from European funding through the INTERREG Programmes over the last number of years. The ONSIDE Project, with INTERREG VA funding is contributing to the achievement of almost 53,000 citizens directly benefitting from INTERREG VA projects by the end of the programme. This contribution is indeed valuable not only for beneficiaries, but also in supporting strong North South co-operation.

The ONSIDE project, which supports persons with disabilities in the border areas to access technology and training, is a great example of how we can harness the potential of technology in realising individual lifestyle choices. The core objective of disability services policy is to support persons with a disability to live a life of their own choosing in their community, and to enjoy the widest possible choice in how they spend their time, and the ONSIDE project is a very practical support in this regard. The interactive nature of the tailored supports offered by the ONSIDE project focus on the achievement of meaningful personal outcomes for persons with disabilities.

“I am very pleased that my department has provided match-funding, in partnership with the Department of Health in Northern Ireland, to the ONSIDE project.”

Speaking about the launch event Orla McCann, Project Manager, said: “It’s great to launch ONSIDE in Derry~Londonderry today as we piloted the project in the North West, North Donegal and Monaghan and we heard first-hand from participants whose lives have been changed for the better. ONSIDE aims to support disabled people to create community connections: one to one support is provided to establish connections in participants’ local communities combined with a digital skills training course which allows participants to engage in online communities too. Both strands collectively help address and reduce the social isolation experienced by many disabled people in our communities”.

Mark Gamble who took part in the ONSIDE project, said: “ONSIDE has been a complete new experience for me. It got me out of the house, learning new things and meeting new people. I’ve taken part in a Makaton class and it’s been both rewarding and beneficial. I’m much more confident online now, I feel secure buying things now where I would have been wary before I did the digital skills programme. I would advise anyone to sign up for ONSIDE. You won’t regret it, it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.

Welcoming the project Gina McIntyre, CEO of the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) said: “This project reflects the EU’s continued commitment, through the INTERREG VA Programme, to support the health and well-being of thousands of citizens across Northern Ireland and the Border Counties of Ireland. Disabled people, on both sides of the border, face many challenges in their daily lives, including feelings of social isolation and exclusion. ONSIDE is an innovative project, designed to help address these issues. It will provide tailored support to encourage participants to become more actively involved within their local community, thereby enhancing their quality of life”.


Photo (L-R): Paul Sheridan, Director of Corporate Services, SEUPB, Orla McCann, Project Manager, ONSIDE project, Mark Gamble, ONSIDE participant, Mayor Michaela Boyle, Derry & Strabane District Council and Colin Dunlop, Head of Disability and sensory Disability Policy Unit, Department of Health NI.

Notes to Editors:

  1. Media contact: Gráinne Magennis 077 3369 0039 or [email protected]
  2. The ONSIDE (Outreach, Navigation, Social Inclusion and Digital Engagement) project will identify participants (aged over 16) who are seeking to improve their health and wellbeing by increasing their community networks both socially and online.
  3. ONSIDE supports participants through a tailored development plan to engage in community activities alongside an 8-week digital skills programme which will train, equip and support participants to become socially connected online.
  4. ONSIDE a pan-disability service which is a free, impartial and confidential.
  5. The ONSIDE project is led by Disability Action NI in partnership with the Northern Ireland Housing Executive; the Independent Living Movement in Ireland and Supporting Communities.
  6. ONSIDE is a cross border project funded by the European Union's INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body.
  7. The Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) is a North/South Implementation Body sponsored by the Department of Finance in Northern Ireland and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in Ireland. It is responsible for managing two EU Structural Funds Programmes, PEACE IV and INTERREG VA which are designed to enhance cross-border cooperation, promote reconciliation and create a more peaceful and prosperous society.
  8. The Programmes operate within a clearly defined area including Northern Ireland, the Border Region of Ireland and in the case of INTERREG VA, Western Scotland.
  9. The INTERREG VA Programme has a European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) contribution of €240 million and aims to address the economic and social problems which result from the existence of borders.
  10. For more information on the SEUPB please visit