North West Forum of People with Disabilities has received a £5,947 grant from Big Lottery Fund’s Awards for All programme. It is part of a Big Lottery Fund grants roll out of £53,634 to seven groups in the north west/Derry and Strabane (See full list of awards)
The North West Forum promotes the rights of people with disabilities in the Derry/Londonderry area. They are using the £5,947 to reach more people who need support by creating a website and providing IT equipment and training. They will also provide specialist communications resources for people with hearing impairments.
Tony O’Reilly (47), from Derry/Londonderry, was born with Cerebral Palsy. At school he was wrongly deemed to have limited learning potential, and after being revaluated he later went onto to achieve a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Politics and a Master’s. He has been involved with the North West Forum, as a volunteer, employee and committee member, for around 20 years.
“Up until I came across the Forum my experience of being a person with a disability was both challenging and oppressive. I had been refused job opportunities and constantly underestimated by people. At the North West Forum I was a disabled person and there was nothing wrong with that. I could be liked and respected for who I was.”
“At the Forum, we have helped many people with employment and housing issues. In one case, a mother had a learning disability and mental health needs and her son had severe learning and physical disabilities and lived in a residential home. She had applied for five years to have home visits at weekends, but had no success. It wasn’t until she came to us in desperation that things changed. We were able to contact the right people with the right information and get those home visits within two and a half weeks.”
Tony added: “The Forum has taught me that we must help each other. Disabled people were always seen as having needs, not rights. The people who come to the Forum have often been ignored, dismissed or treated in a patronising way. The Forum values all people with disabilities with dignity and respect as people with our own voice to shape and inform all aspects of our lives. The Forum means to me one thing – it tells me I am a human being and I have human rights.”
Patricia Bray, vice chair of the group said: “We are entirely voluntary and user-led and have been working on very little for years. We are delighted to get this grant from Big Lottery Fund – it will make such a difference.”
The North West Forum of People with Disabilities can currently be contacted via a Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/northwestforum/.
Other North West projects
Shantallow Community Residents Association Men’s Support Group provides a range of services and activities for local men. They are using the £9,998 grant to buy a polytunnel, run trips and events and for youth facilitators to provide people with opportunities to make improvements to their community.
Enagh Youth Forum is a voluntary independent youth led community based organisation. They received £7,000 to work with 300 young people to identify their needs and share the findings with statutory agencies and other local groups to shape the services they need.
Maydown Olympic Amateur Boxing Club is a newly formed boxing club in the Strathfoyle and Maydown area of Derry/Londonderry. They received £1,743 to provide first aid and defibrillator training, and buy a defibrillator.
Cumann Baire Na Magha Doire promotes hurling and camogie in the Derry/Londonderry area. They received a grant of £8,946 to buy furniture and IT and fitness equipment for the new club house.
Feeny Community Association Limited supports the Feeny community. They received £10,000 to improve the health and wellbeing of members of the community by introducing them to a new range of health and wellbeing activities.
Strabane and Lifford Resource and Development Group delivers a wide range of social projects and services to isolated men and women in the Strabane area. They received a £10,000 grant to make improvements to the group’s new premises and buy equipment.