Partnering With The DFI to Help Make a Difference

21 February 2023

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TTM Healthcare Solutions Sponsors The Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI) Podcast Series

At TTM we are committed to making positive impact within the communities we engage with. As part of this we partner with many like-minded organisations to help make a difference. This year we are again supporting the Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI) - by sponsoring their new Podcast series, which went live this month. This is a brand-new medium for the DFI, and we’re proud to take the step with them as they use the engaging, creative world of podcasts to educate, inform and champion for change for disabled people in Ireland.

With over 600,000 disabled people in this country, many of whom are denied basic rights, the DFI’s purpose is to work to make sure that positive steps are taken towards equality for people with disabilities. As a federation of 120 different member organisations the DFI advocates for policy change, provides information and support and raises awareness of disability issues - always making sure that it is the voice of the disabled person that is heard.

Brenda Drumm is the DFIs Communications Manager, and we chatted with her about the work of the Federation and what’s behind the new podcast series:

TTM: What is the main purpose of the DFI?

BD: Our vision in the DFI is an Ireland where people with disabilities are participating fully in all aspects of society. Our four-year goal is that our member organisations are actively involved in DFI, working to implement the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) and to achieve the equal participation of people with disabilities in society. We work at a community, national, European and international level to represent our member organisations and disabled people.

TTM: What was a focal point this year?

BD: A key issue for us this past year has been the #CostOfDisability - and this will be the theme of our first podcast. People with disabilities are disproportionately at risk of poverty and deprivation in Ireland, and were already more likely to be in arrears on their utility bills long before the current cost of living crisis. The ongoing price rises have made things even more difficult for disabled people, especially those who are unable to work, given their low income, high rates of poverty and the extra costs they live with.

For example, as the CSO SILC Deprivation data shows, last year:

- 42.7% of people unable to work due to long-standing health problems (disability) live in enforced deprivation. This is 2.5 times higher than the national average of 17.1%.

- 1 in 5 persons unable to work due to long-standing health problems (disability) went without heating at some point in the last year.

The DFI calls on the government to prioritise targeted measures to support disabled people on low and fixed incomes in the forthcoming cost of living package, to avoid more disabled people being pushed further into poverty.

The government must provide ongoing, targeted support in the form of adequate social welfare rates and supports for disabled people, as well as one-off payments.

Everyone is struggling with the cost-of-living crisis, but we want it to be understood that the #CostOfDisability was there before the crisis, and it will remain afterwards.

TTM: What did you achieve on this front?

BD: We made important inroads. For the first time, in the official budget day speech the Minister for Finance verbally accepted that there is an extra cost associated with Disability. A once-off payment of five hundred Euro was allocated in the budget which we welcomed - but we continue to campaign for ongoing financial support as disability isn’t a ‘one off issue’.

TTM: What are some of the ways you get your messages out there?

BD: Apart from our traditional channels, we are increasingly using social media to communicate, and last year we branched out onto TikTok. Our CEO, Allen Dunne, did a TikTok on the #CostOfDisability on budget day and within 48 hours we’d had 11,500 views! We need to use these creative spaces to communicate in imaginative and compelling ways about issues to do with disability, inclusion and equality!

TTM: What other campaigns kept you busy last year?

BD: As always, ‘Make Way Day’ in September is a massive campaign. This is a public awareness event to highlight the needs of people with disabilities in the public spaces and built environment that we all share. We educate and remind people to be conscious of not blocking footpaths with obstacles. Careless acts like parking on footpaths, leaving wheelie bins and other refuse on the pavement, or even just leaving a bicycle locked up across a pathway. It’s just about amplifying this message and getting people to understand its importance. We worked very hard on partnerships, visuals and media and #MakeWayDay2022 trended number one on Twitter in Ireland. It was really exciting for us - especially as it was a Friday and we were competing with lots of other Friday trends including the institution that is the Late, Late Show!

Each December 3rd we mark the UN’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities. One of the ways we mark it is with the #Purple Lights Campaign - a local initiative founded by disability activist Gary Kearney which encourages businesses and landmarks across Ireland to mark the day by ‘lighting up purple’ [purple is the recognised colour of disability activism]. As Gary says: ‘it’s a day of celebration, inclusion and awareness where we shine a line on disability.’ Buildings and structures across Ireland rose to the occasion - including Dublin’s City Hall, Garda HQ and the Rock of Cashel. We even had some bridges, buses lit up and plenty of people donning purple clothing!

TTM: So, tell us about the podcast idea. How did this come about?

BD: As I’ve said, it’s very important that we share and listen to the voices of disabled people. We can be curators of content around disability - but it’s vital that this is authentic and we achieve this by hearing the voices of disabled people. We also want to use the podcast to highlight the issues that we campaign on and the important work that out Member organisations are doing. We were doing this in our newsletter via a ‘Member Spotlight’ feature, and we realised podcasts give us the perfect platform for taking this idea further.

TTM: Why a podcast?

BD: A recent survey showed that there are 4.1 million podcasts globally, and when people in different countries were asked if they had listened to any podcast in the last 12 months - Ireland as a country ranked in the top three. Ahead of the UK and US! So, there’s a huge appetite for podcasts - which, thanks to the sponsorship of TTM, we can now tap into.

TTM: What will the podcasts ‘look’ like?

BD: We are doing a limited series of six audio-only six podcasts, each 15 to 30 minutes in length. The style will be relaxed and conversational, as though you’re overhearing a conversation in a café.

TTM: What will the episodes cover?

BD: We will always be responsive to what our self-advocates and activists want to discuss. We don’t want to be prescriptive. So, the first episode will be on #CostofDisability. Planned follow-up topics are ‘Accessibility’, ‘Self-Advocacy’, ‘Access to Education’ and ‘Holidays and Travel. There will be some of these topics that we have to come back to again and again but there will hopefully be new and surprising issues too to get people thinking and talking!

TTM: How does a partnership such as this help the DFI?

BD: With the support of partners like TTM, there’s so much we can do. In terms of the podcast, we’d love to ‘open the floor’ to disabled people to host their own podcasts, on whatever topic they choose, not just on disability issues. Whether they’re talking about movies or fashion, it would be so empowering for them and an education for so many of us. I think podcasts by disabled people removes the ignorance that can sometimes exist about disability. As a disabled person said to me just last week ‘We are not just disabled people, we are people’! I would love to be able to facilitate more podcasts by disabled people and to share this as a new skill for people to learn. Irish people love to chat – that’s a truth universally acknowledged and podcasting is a great medium where we can talk serious issues, but also showcase the genuine stories, laughter, fun that is there in the in between spaces.

We’re so grateful that TTM is getting behind this message with us - and allowing us to launch out into the world of podcasting!

Listen to The DFI's podcast here.

For more details on the DFI please contact:
For more information on working with TTM Healthcare Solutions as a health or social care professional in the disability services – please get in touch.