Empowering people with learning disabilities and promoting social inclusion.

Story shared 30.6.2021

Established in August 2002, Destined is a voluntary charitable organisation with 2 centres in N.Ireland, one in Derry and one in Feeny, that seeks to address the needs of people with learning disabilities in a whole life context.


What difference has the pandemic made to the communities you serve?

The pandemic affected the Destined members and also their families to the extent that many were shielding from the beginning. Many of the members with a learning disability have underlying health issues and COVID-19 created a fear of infection among the disability community. All face to face programmes and services that were normally delivered by Destined ceased. 

This led to increased levels of isolation and, as people with learning disabilities are already living in isolation, the impact was even greater than that for mainstream society.

What impact did you see on your services as a result?

Destined’s centre based and face to face programmes were cancelled at the beginning of the pandemic as the community went into lockdown.

  • The nature of the programmes changed to using zoom and social media platforms. They consisted of a listening ear to reduce isolation, chat rooms in face book, fitness sessions on zoom, weekly telephone contact, baking programme and activity packs.
  • Destined also supplied over 15,000 freshly cooked meals to those who were shielding.

What has the NET funding enabled you to do for those people you help?

The funding received from NET allowed the group to increase the levels of programmes delivered to the learning disability community.

Coming out of the lockdown there was a necessity to reduce the numbers attending programmes leading to the need to increase the number of programmes to ensure everyone received a service. As important, the funding supported the organisation to replace the funding lost through a lack of fundraising opportunities.

What challenges/opportunities do you see ahead?

A major challenge being identified as a result of COVID-19 is the increased levels of mental health issues among people with learning disability. This increase has led to all Destined staff undertaking training on brief mental health intervention and signposting.

An opportunity is the new flexibility of zoom and other social media platforms. 

The future of DPO’s - Why DPOs are important and why we need to invest in them and protect them in the future?

As a DPO Destined can add value to its services and the group has a social return on investment ratio of £4.17 to every £1 it receives. The organisation can respond quickly to changes in need and the operating environment.

Read more about Destined