The ONSIDE project is a cross border project created to address the social isolation experienced by disabled people. ONSIDE’s aim is to create community connections for disabled people - both in their local community and online communities. However, the COVID-19 lock down period has hampered our ability to create physical connections in the local community so our focus has been to get all participants online and engaging in online communities as quickly as possible.
What the lock down has taught us is the importance of ‘connection’ … connecting remotely with family and friends.
Unfortunately, disabled people as a community have one of the lowest uptakes of digital engagement. This coupled with the COVID-19 closure of social outlets available to disabled people means many have been left further isolated over the last few months. This is why ONSIDE is determined to focus our efforts on equipping and upskilling participants to get online.
The ONSIDE team continues to support participants throughout their ONSIDE journey. We are now focusing on providing person-centred support across all areas of the project via telephone, email and on-line software. We are now delivering digital training to participants via Zoom.
Prior to training, an ONSIDE team member delivers an android tablet and printed support materials. During training they 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.
Peer advocacy is one-to-one support provided by a person with similar a disability or experience to others using a service or programme. In relation to the ONSIDE project, our Peer Advocates will help train and support participants to create community connections.
Why do we need Peer Advocates?
Peer Advocates provide invaluable support to the ONSIDE project. We are engaging their support to aid our online digital training. Having already participated in the ONSIDE project, or because of their digital skills they will be able to guide and support other participants become digitally connected.
What will the role involve?
The ONSIDE project aims to create social and online community connections. The current COVID-19 restrictions have hampered our ability to create physical connections in local communities but have also highlighted the need for digital connection to stay in touch with family and friends and manage our lives online.
Over the last few months our focus has been to get all participants online and engaging in digital communities as quickly as possible. We are providing our digital training via Zoom.
ONSIDE participants are I.T. beginners and the 1-2-1 support they receive from Peer Advocates is essential in building their confidence and providing advice from lived experience. The Peer Advocates role is twofold: they will not only use their digital skills to teach and support participants e.g. joining a Zoom call or downloading a new app on their tablet but they will also support participants to join and partake in online communities to build social connections e.g. join Facebook or WhatsApp or join an online cookery course.
If this interests you please contact Elaine Roub 074 2370 3400 or Lisa Marie Ferris, Peer Advocate Coordinator on 074 2529 4854 (phone, text or Whatsapp) or download a 'Peer Advocate application pack.
The ONSIDE Peer Action Research project is steered and conducted by people who have lived experience of disability. We are currently recruiting individuals who have lived experience of disability for the volunteer role of Peer Action Researcher. This is a flexible role depending how much time researchers wish to commit, but can include:
Any training and / or support specific to individuals or groups of individuals will be provided as required throughout a researchers’ contribution. Researchers can complete as much or as little research as they would like and choose to work individually or as part of a group setting.
Due to the on-going impact of Covid-19 restrictions, this role would currently be best suited to individuals who have existing digital skills and can undertake training and research remotely, however once restrictions are lifted this will be expanded for individuals who prefer face to face training and support to complete the research.
Tell your personal story
A lot of existing research has identified disabled people encounter many challenges and barriers in their lives. Our Peer Research would like to focus on how people have resolved these challenges and barriers and we will use this information to inform and empower others in similar situations. For more information on how you can Tell your Personal Story.
If you are interested in the role or would like more information, please contact our Peer Action Research Coordinator Dr. Emma O'Neill 07786 460071 (phone, text or WhatsApp) or email: [email protected]
Read our latest press release 'Social isolation not 'new' but a well-trodden path for disabled people here.
For World Mental Health Day (10 October 2020) we have drafted advice and helpful tips to support our participants through the current localised restrictions (NI) and Level 3 restrictions (RoI).
During lock-down the ONSIDE team continued to support participants by contacting them weekly and providing them with relevant and timely information. Below is a series of fact sheets we issued during this time:
How to look after your mental health May 2020
How to safely shop online
How to avoid scams
How to parent in 'unprecedented' times
Caring for a disabled child through COVID-19
Teenagers and COVID-19
Online hobbies and interests
Apps to help you stay connected
How to look after your mental health March 2020
How to cope with COVID-19 anxiety
To find out more, contact the ONSIDE project team on telephone: 028 9029 7880 / 00353 1873 0455 or email: [email protected] Alternatively, you can follow us and stay up-to-date via:
ONSIDE is a cross border project funded by the European Union's INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).