More than £1 million has been awarded to 10 new research and pilot projects across the UK, of which £450,00 has been allocated to 3 projects in Northern Ireland. The funding has been granted as part of the DRILL (Disability Research on Independent Living and Learning) programme, a £5 million scheme led by disabled people and funded by the Big Lottery Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK.

Each research or pilot project will be led by disabled people or people with long term health conditions; they will be developing approaches and questions, working alongside academics and policy makers.

The Mental Health Foundation has been awarded £149,657 for their pilot project on supporting people with mental health problems to get involved in physical activity.  They will work in partnership with South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust and the Northern Health and Social Care Trust.

The British Deaf Association has been awarded £149,947 and will explore access to justice for deaf people, working incollaboration with Queen’s University Belfast, Syracuse University College of Law and Rowan University.

Positive Futures has been awarded £149,997 for their project on supporting people with learning disabilities who have experienced violence.  Positive Futures is working in collaboration with Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), the Public Prosecution Service (PPS), Police Service for Northern Ireland (PSNI) and Nexus NI.

Tony O’Reilly, Northern Ireland DRILL National Advisory Group member said;

“The success of the process surrounding DRILL, was the critical fact that the research was driven, identified and delivered through our leadership and expertise for the first time at both a regional and national level.” 

We, yes us! Disabled people were the academics, the community and human rights activists, at the heart of this innovative and amazing project. 

We were not simply the subject of research but genuine equal partners in designing, delivering meaningful research outcomes to affect real change today. All involved with DRILL, I believe, have set the standards for equality participation based research in the future and that will only be one of many great legacies of this Project.”

Launched in 2015, the DRILL programme is fully funded by the Big Lottery Fund and delivered by Disability Action Northern Ireland, Disability Rights UK, Inclusion Scotland and Disability Wales. DRILL is funding more than 30 research and pilot projects over a 5 year period, all led by disabled peoplE.

For more information on all projects funded by DRILL visit