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Celebrating International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Today is International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This awareness day celebrates the breaking down of barriers between people with a disability and their chance to live in a fully accessible and inclusive world.

This year the theme is the role of innovation, a look at how changes and developments open doors for people in every aspect of their lives.

Specifically, we are talking about how technology has enabled the people we support to integrate and take full advantage of social and cultural opportunities that may have previously been difficult for them to access.

Technology in Supported Living

At Innovate Trust, we are incredibly proud of how we have introduced people to new and exciting ways to communicate with each other. We aspire to assist members in expressing their own needs and opinions.

Over several years, we have brought new technology to our supported living services and the wider community. We have installed voice-assisted devices in every one of our houses, with additional features that respond to alternative prompts, allowing those without a conventional voice to express their wants and interests.

We have gifted hundreds of tablets and devices to the people we support to ensure that no one who wants to be involved feels excluded. Having helped people to use them through group activities and 1:1 online sessions, we have been able to help create and support the broader community with our community app, Insight.

Thanks to the peer led team and Insight, I now have a job at Innovate Trust. I promote Insight, getting new organisation on.

Insight app in the community

Insight is Innovate Trust’s free community app for people with Learning Disabilities across the UK to communicate with one another. We host over 80 live and in-person activities per week on the app. It is a social space for people to share, make friends and be included digitally in an accessible environment.

When we developed Insight in 2019, it started as a means to connect more closely with the families and support network of the people we support, all the while enabling them to record digital diaries. As the pandemic hit, Insight shifted its focus when it became clear that this platform could become a network to connect large numbers of people at risk of severe isolation.

It’s helped a lot with my anxieties, and I’ve really enjoyed it. I enjoy Dance with Georgia at the minute and Shiny Happy People. I recently ran Phil’s Festive Fun Chat because there was no good telly on Tuesday.

Insight as a safe space

We have provided information and a safe space for people to share experiences and connect with others. Insight offers members a chance to meet new people and develop new interests in more far-reaching ways than we could ever have imagined.

Our Insight app is a safe space for people to share snippets of their lives without fear of mocking. People have been apprehensive about this when using Facebook or other social media platforms. A heartbreaking number of people we have engaged with have experienced some form of bullying. They felt Facebook made them too easy for bullies to find. Our Digital team closely monitor our Insight app. The team immediately remove content that was in any way mocking, cruel or offensive. This act gives people peace of mind, as do the rules each member agrees to upon signing up.

We are very proud and consistently impressed with the amount of content and online sessions that the people we support organise and facilitate. We have a fantastic Peer Led team who bring so much fun, joy, and inclusion into people’s homes each week.

Our Peer Led team

Innovate Trust’s Peer Led Team was born out of Insight and link-ups during lockdown with organisations such as Gig Buddies Cymru, Stay Up Late and Conwy Connect. In a very organic way, a team formed who all shared equal passions to create an online social life for the people we support. They saw a need for activities on evenings and weekends, entertaining and providing company to those unable to access and attend events and gatherings.  

Our Peer Led team continuously share resources and ideas with each other through meetups on Insight. 

I was introduced to the app two years ago because I wanted to do some activities online. I did yoga first, and then weird science, and then had all these activities to do. A team eventually formed called the Peer Led team, they started doing things in the evening which was great. Some members really love it because they don’t have anything to do in the evenings. It gives people a social life online.

Insight Investigators 

Innovate Trust is thrilled to have been awarded a grant from WCVA’s Volunteering Wales funding stream to evaluate our secure social media app. We pride ourselves on Insight being a safe environment for people to keep in touch with friends and family, join interest groups and participate in online group activities.

Insight has brought digital inclusion to a section of society previously excluded. It also has created a vital link for isolated people during the Covid pandemic. 

It is a platform that continues to provide learning opportunities, volunteering, well-being and social contact for nearly 1700 individuals, but we know that it can be even better. 

Insight Investigators will find out what people like about the app and how they would like to improve it. We will also talk to people who do not currently use the app to find out why they do not and how we can assist in changing this. 

As previously mentioned, adults with disabilities facilitate a third of events on Insight for their own community members; we will explore how we can increase this proportion.

The project will be led and shaped by our Investigators (a group of users and non-users of Insight), supported by a Project Officer. Our new project will continue to expand digital inclusion for individuals with a learning disability by being the place to go for online activities, resources and information.

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