Final conference of the VIVID:T EU AVI funded project Ensuring Valuable International Volunteering & Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities

We have learned a lot and grown a lot as individuals and as organisations.  We are very proud of what we have achieved with the EU AID funded VIVID:T consortium, especially given that we have all been living through a global pandemic.

At the conference Viatores Christi, CBM Ireland, CBM Global, Abilis Finland, European Disability Forum, Tearfund Ireland and ASPEm Italy came together to share and discuss some key learnings and plan important next steps!

Session 1 Online Volunteering during the Global Pandemic

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A year on from the VC Rapid Research on Inclusive Online Volunteering and after yet another year of remote, online engagement due the global pandemic, we revisit the key elements from the research and hear from some real life online volunteers as well as a reflection from the CEO of Comhlámh, Ireland’s international volunteering body.  We explore:

•                    How does this work for persons with disabilities and those without?

•                    What extra training is needed?

•                    Funding – can remote engagement be funded?

•                    Challenges – digital, cultural, language, local ways of working?


Mark Cumming, Head of Comhlámh, the Irish Association of Development Workers and Volunteers. Mark will reflect on volunteering over the course of this global pandemic as well the future and what it might look like.

Eilidh Rose McEwan (with Camilla Novara of ASPEm) an online volunteer with ASPEm Italy. Eilidh is carrying out an online research project for ASPEm.  We hear from Eilidh, who is hard of hearing and uses British Sign Language, on how this online volunteer assignment has evolved and the key learnings – how do we need to make online volunteering accessible in practical terms?

Brenda Akullo Odongo, who has a background in law and mediation, is supported by VC in her role in the Justice & Peace Office, Catholic Diocese of Hoima, Uganda. Brenda has taken on the role that was intended for an international volunteer and is now the local VC representative in this Misean Cara funded project. Brenda manages the key objectives of the project as well as the reporting and monitoring & evaluation. Brenda will be introduced by Rose Salaama Bavuga, VC East Africa Coordinator.

Que Nguyen, Vice-director of V-TALK, an online initiative of the Centre for Sustainable Development Studies (CSDS) Vietnam in response to Covid-19 with the support of SERVE – an Irish volunteering agency.


Session 2 Roundtable on Disability Inclusion – Leadership Engagement

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VIVID:T set out to create a community of practice made up of EU organisations working towards disability inclusion in humanitarian action and volunteering.  A first step for all organisations in becoming inclusive and accessible is to carry out an audit of the actual organisation’s policies, procedures, staff knowledge, buildings, infrastructure before moving on to project design and volunteer recruitment.

But how do we mainstream this?  How do we influence funders?

Input and panel discussion, led by Shane Halpin CEO of Viatores Christi with:

Catherine Naughton is the Director of the European Disability Forum (EDF), a unique platform which brings together representative organisation of persons with disabilities from across Europe. She is also the Vice President of the Social Platform. Social Platform is the largest network of European rights- and value-based civil society organisations working in the social sector. Catherine has an academic background in public health, and 25 years of experience in the field of disability- with a particular focus on inclusive development: the rights of persons with disabilities in low and middle income countries.

Key input on the topic by Mr Birendra Pokharel, Abilis Country Coordinator, Nepal: Birendra is a rights activist with a visual impairment living in Nepal. He was engaged in Establishment of the Asia Pacific framework of “make the Rights Real”. He participated in the Creating New Futures for All research symposiums in Sidney University, School of Law in December 2012. He has been engaged as Local Expert of Abilis Foundation, Finland since 2011 and facilitates the Abilis Grant making mechanism. His role has been recognised for pushing the ratification of CRPD – the UN convention on the rights of persons with disability. He was assigned as expert in the drafting committee of the amendment of disabled protection and welfare act in line wit h the CRPD. He has also conducted the “DRPI Disability Rights Country Holistic Monitoring in Nepal” applying tools and methods of York University, Canada comprising the twin track approach of human rights monitoring.


David Bainbridge Executive Director of CBM Global: David has worked for over 30 years in the international relief and development sector, serving in a variety of senior roles at secretariat and project level. He joined CBM in 2016 as International Director of the CBM International Federation, transitioning in 2020 as Executive Director for CBM Global Disability Inclusion, a new Federation working in over 20 countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America.  Before joining CBM he was International Director at Tearfund UK. As Executive Director, David leads on the strategic direction and growth of CBM Global, the pursuit of strategic partnerships with the disability movement and a range of high level partners and alliances. Disability inclusion is at the heart of CBM Global’s work – our vision is an inclusive world in which all people with disabilities enjoy their human rights and achieve their full potential.

Sean Copeland of Tearfund Ireland: Sean is the Acting CEO of Tearfund Ireland an organisation with annual budget of over 970k last year 2020. Prior to joining Sean was the Sales & Marketing Manager in a SME manufacturing & construction company for nine years.  He then worked as a Senior Account Manager in the environmental sector, before working as a Channel & Partner Manager of a large Irish Energy Supplier.  In addition to consulting small businesses, he is also a spiritual mentor and is passionate about helping people become all they were created to be.

Marjo Heinonen Abilis Foundation: Marjo has been ED at Alibis since 2009. Before that worked in and out of Finland, in the development and disability sector since late 1980’s. Sha has many years of experience in working in Africa and Asia, in the least developed countries and in humanitarian crisis.

Session 3 VIVID-T Training Resources Showcase 

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Apologies – no recording is available for this session.

How do I begin the journey towards becoming a more inclusive organisation in a practical way?

Here we share resources that can help and your organisation to be more disability inclusive.

As part of the VIVID: T project, consortium members were given the opportunity to attend several online training sessions aimed towards ensuring more disability inclusion in humanitarian action and volunteering. As part of the training a number of easy-to-use resources were created which any organisation can apply to their work. These resources include but are not limited to toolkits on how to ensure that online meetings, PowerPoints, Word Documents and your social media content are accessible. This session will focus on how any organisation, big or small, can begin the journey towards becoming a more inclusive organisation by applying these resources to their work.

Roberta Lulli, Digital Accessibility Trainer at European Disability Forum shares the resources that she has developed to help organisations start to become more inclusive and accessible in small, practical steps.

Accessible Word Documents Toolkit

Accessible PowerPoint presentation Toolkit

Accessible Social Media Toolkit

Accessible online event

Accessibility Go! A Guide to Action


Katie Lynch from Tearfund Ireland shared how Tearfund has implemented some of the VIVID T resources into their work and communications.

What Tearfund learned:

  • How to choose an online event platform
  • Designing a promotional video
  • Accessible communication with speakers and participants
  • Accessible PowerPoint presentation
  • Informing speakers of accessibility measures

The challenges and opportunities they faced:

  • Funding: This is needed for sign language interpretation and live captioning
  • Advocating for accessibility with external colleagues is really important

We also heard from Miriam Hockey, researcher appointed the new Erasmus+ Inclusive Global Citizenship Education Project – a new partnership between Viatores Christi and Abilis Foundation Finland to harness expertise in adult education and disability inclusion to develop and deliver a high quality, accessible, online Global Citizenship training module targeted at adults, those with disabilities and those without. We are looking for your help in designing this module so that it really meets the needs of learners. Help us by filling out our survey


Session 4 Core Humanitarian Standards (CHS) – A Practical Session for Small NGOs

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The aim of this session is to have smaller organisations hear that CHS is for all organisations working in both development and humanitarian action and how it is built on the principles of Humanity, Neutrality, Impartiality and Independence.

It also focuses on how the CHS helps the communities and stakeholders that we partner with to have a voice and a response to the work that we do, helping us to be more accountable to the most marginalised.

In this session we hope to demystify and highlight that CHS Alliance processes with their core organisational systems, practices and monitoring are an important integration to help us with our accountability, safeguarding and CHS will strengthen the capacity of our organisations

This session will was led by Sharron Kelliher, currently assisting VC with its CHS self-assessment process with input from smaller NGOs as well as an interview with Bonaventure Gbétoho Sokpoh, Senior Advisor on CHS and Outreach at CHS Alliance on the positive aspects of CHS Alliance and the various supports available for smaller organisations

We also explored the positive outcomes of integrating inclusivity, capacity building, fundraising, localisation; safeguarding and accountability to existing processes.

The benefits of CHS Alliance membership – it allows member organisations to join their CHS verification online Community of Practice. This is a peer-to-peer learning network allows organisations to connect with other members undertaking verification, access best practice tools developed and/or collected by the CHS Alliance and share tips.