DRILL Launch Northern Ireland: Disabled people take the lead on £5 million research project

Disabled people will be at the forefront of designing projects for a new £5 million UK wide research programme to explore how disabled people can live more independent lives. The DRILL programme, which is launched in Northern Ireland on 16 September, will see disabled people working with academics and policy makers to develop research and pilot projects that will show how they, and people with long term health conditions, can be better supported to be full citizens.

The DRILL (Disability Research on Independent Living and Learning) programme is fully funded by Big Lottery Fund and will be led by, Disability Action in partnership with Inclusion Scotland, Disability Wales and Disability Rights UK,

Kevin Doherty, Chief Executive, Disability Action, said: “ultimately this is about making a real shift. Far too often disabled people are the subject of research but not participants in its development. We want academics and others to work in partnership with disabled people to build an evidence base that will contribute to making real change.”

DRILL is expecting to fund a total of 40 research proposals and pilot projects over a 5 year period. The programme which we believe to be a world first, aims to work in partnership with disabled people, academics and policy makers to build a better evidence base about approaches that enable people to live independently, which will be used to inform future policy and service provision, as well as giving greater voice to disabled people in the issues that impact them.

The criteria for funding will be decided after engagement events with people with disabilities around the UK, under the themes of peer support, autonomy, resilience and social, economic and civic participation. Disabled people and their organisations will be supported to work on their bids in partnership with academics and policy makers.

Speaking at the Launch, Philomena McCrory, Director of the Centre for Independent Living NI said:

“The Independent Living Movement is based on the firm belief that disabled people are the experts on how we achieve independent living and fulfil our individual potential. The DRILL Programme is therefore of great significance as we move our philosophy and ethos forward through the co-production of new research – disabled people taking the initiative individually and collectively in designing and promoting more effective solutions to the barriers we face in everyday life.”

Dr Bronagh Byrne of the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, Queen’s University Belfast added:

“Building a truly inclusive society needs to be underpinned by a strong evidence base with disabled people at its core. I look forward to the DRILL Programme producing key research from across Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England in partnership with disabled people, academics, service providers and policy makers – research that is committed to and guided by the articles and principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.”

The first round of funding is expected to be launched in April 2016. For information on DRILL please visit www.drilluk.org.uk

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