Updated 14.07.2020

We’ve been in lockdown since March due to COVID-19 and whilst the way we’ve worked has changed, the Disability Action team continues to provide multiple services and support as many disabled people as possible.

As we begin to move out of lockdown, over the next few weeks our Management Team will share their thoughts on working during this challenging period and what they’ve learnt.

First up is Orla McCann, Onside Project Manager 

Lockdown has made me realise that ‘not possible’ does not exist. When we are forced to think differently we can overcome challenges. A virtual world can remove some of the traditional barriers to access but it presents others - notably that there is not equal access to digital connectivity.  The ONSIDE project had begun to address some of these issues. Whilst COVID-19 slowed us down, as we couldn’t get the equipment needed, it has demonstrated how important ONSIDE really is. 

Find out more about the ONSIDE project.

Next up are Miriam Bacon and Gillian Rainey, Workable NI Team Leaders

Working during lockdown hasn’t been without its challenges but we’ve managed to overcome them by adapting how we provide the Workable NI service and working together as a team. We’ve continued to engage with funders, participants and employers to ensure continuity of service - albeit in a different way. COVID-19 lockdown may have thrown challenges at us but it’s made us think more, be more creative and support each other more.

I have learned the importance of technology while working at home to keep in touch with staff and Workable NI participants. However, the situation has also highlighted how important face to face contact is especially for those completely isolated and with no means of communication apart from telephone calls.

Next it's thoughts from Tony Carmichael, Training Support Service / Apprenticeship NI Team Leader 

The pandemic has been a challenging time for people with disabilities. The Training Support Service has changed and adapted to a Remote Support model. We have seen some great innovation and examples of best practice, flexibilities and resilience from our trainees and their families, Disability Action staff, Training Providers/Colleges and Government Departments. Looking forward to a return to training, work and direct support! 

Find out more about the Training Support Service / Apprenticeships.

Karen Smith, Team Leader Job Match, gives us her thoughts on working during lockdown

This time is about coming together, supporting each other and I want to play my part as Job Match Team Leader in helping us all gain the positives from this experience and learn from each other.

Find out more about Job Match and how it can help disabled people to find paid work.

Michael McNulty, Transport Manager, whose team provided vital services during lockdown

The Disability Action Transport Scheme (DATS) teams adapted our service during COVID-19 to offer vital collection, delivery and transport services. We are working on ways to come back with an improved service, putting members safety at the heart of everything we do. We are delighted that the DATS service resumed on 1st July for essential journeys only. 

Find out more about DATS and our 10-step guide for passengers.

Next up it's Angela Hutchison, Mobility Centre Manager

The Mobility Centre had to suspend all driving assessments and lessons for a minimum of three months.  However, we have still been able to provide information and advice to people with driving enquiries via email and telephone.  The  Mobility Centre hopes to be able to provide our usual services in the coming months.

Find out more about how we can help with driving.

And finally we hear from Sean Fitzsimons, Employment Advocacy Coordinator and Face 2 Face Project Manager

The last 100+ days have highlighted once again the resilience and ingenuity of the disabled community here and around the globe. The leadership shown by so many disabled people during this traumatic time has and will continue to make history. Moves towards recovery and resilience must include our community and must be framed in the full protection and realisation of our rights as citizens.

Find out more about Sean's vital work and how he and his team can help.