Social Groups in Northern Ireland

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The Connections NI project involves the establishment of 6 peer support groups for deafblind people over 70 years old. The groups meet one afternoon per month. Project staff link with voluntary groups and key statutory agencies to raise awareness of the project and encourage participation.

Membership is free; people with a combined sight and hearing impairment can self refer, or a relative, friends or other statutory agencies can refer a person with their consent, if they feel they would benefit from the services offered by Deafblind NI.

The groups provide:
• Social interaction with other older deafblind people
• Talks from other agencies on the support and information that is available
• Opportunities to share information on independent living
• Opportunities to learn about ICT (linking in with our Digital Inclusion ‘Connections’ Project
• A range of social activities
• At least 3 social outings/trips per year

In addition:
• Group members take ownership and influence the activities
• Groups will be supported allowing them to become self-sustaining to ensure their continuation in the long term
• Each group will be supported by 5 volunteers
• Befrienders volunteers offer regular companionship to members by phone, at people’s homes, and online.

The project seeks to promote decision making by deafblind people including healthy living choices, assertiveness with service providers, increased community interaction etc.

As a by-product, this may help some beneficiaries to address the issues that often cause deafblind older people to have to move into residential care: social isolation, preventable ill health, a lack of access to information about support, disproportionate fear of crime which deters people from going out, etc.

Click HERE for group locations and times.