Journal of Diagrama’s Erasmus project

25 Nov 2021

Diagrama has embarked on an Erasmus +, a two-year project, working with partner organisations across Europe – it is the E-PROFID project. The E-PROFID project is built on a foundation of innovation and transfer of good practice with organisations from diverse backgrounds serving different client groups, working together to design tools and methods to change the public's perception, by promoting ability, rather than accepting disability.

The Erasmus Plus programme is funded by the European Union and is designed to give all people access to lifelong learning, regardless of their education or social circumstances.

The aim of the E-Profid project is to train Care Workers to develop new ways of supporting people with disabilities, especially those living in residential centres. The project has three main objectives;

1. Help change the public’s perception of “Disabilities”, by celebrating “Abilities”

2. Develop residents’ “Professional Identity”, celebrating and sharing skills and talent

3. Train face to face Care Workers to become “Facilitators of Change” using digital and all other communication skills.

It is hoped that through recognising professional identity and diversity, the E-PROFID project will push social change and prove that even severe disability is not a barrier to fulfilment and social inclusion. Together the contributors will create an innovative ‘Facilitator of Change’, training course, combining elements of communication and empowerment, client care, psychology, marketing, employment training in digital management.

To do this staff need to have skills and confidence to develop and implement programmes and to facilitate change, helping clients to develop their professional identity. Learning lessons from the Covid 19 pandemic (and the way the world is changing in any event), we need staff to have skills and confidence to use digital tools to support this work. So project activities include 3 sessions of staff training to specifically focus on digital communication and social inclusion techniques.

These will be held in 2022: April in Belgium; September in Italy; December in UK. The project runs from June 2021 until end of May 2023 and involves Groep Ubuntu, Kortrijk, Belgium, Fundacion Diagrama, Murcia, Spain, University of Salerno, Italy and in France. The project is led by Diagrama Foundation, UK.

The first event was a Transnational Steering Group with senior managers from all partner organizations meeting to design the training programme and to talk about the overall operational plan for delivering the project. This time, some staff who will taking part in the training programme were also invited. This was to make sure that the planned training met our needs. Two of us Trainees went from the UK, I represented the Cabrini House team and Jade Barker was there on behalf of the Semi-Independence team in Canterbury.

Trip No.1 -Murcia, Spain – October 12th-15th 2021

Day 1

After being introduced to the other members of the project in the morning, we gathered to listen to a talk from the Diagrama finance team, which outlined exactly how the Erasmus + funding would be allocated across the various partner organisations and how we needed to record the spending in line with the project guidelines.

Next followed a short presentation from each partner group, outlining what the different organisations do and how we will all play a part in the project. Groep Unbuntu, an organisation based in Belgium and who are an Inclusive social network for vulnerable people and families, were the first to present. They support nearly 1000 people in the South of the provinces West and East Flanders and spent some time talking us through what they do by way of an introduction. As the first training module will be held in Belgium, this talk was focused on ‘professional identity and digital communication tools’, which is the basis of our Erasmus project. Groep Ubuntu have extensive experience in developing professional identity of their clients with disabilities.

The University of Salerno are the Italian partner and were next to introduce themselves. They will provide the second training module in ‘perceptions and attitudes to disability’, as well as training in possible ways to change those perceptions. The University will take the lead in analysing data, collected from questionnaires, which will be able to tell us how effective the training modules have been, on both the participants and the service users.

Diagrama Foundation then presented our training module to be held in the UK, hopefully in December 2022, Covid dependant. Helen Dean, our Head of Projects and Professional Standards, spoke about the Diagrama ethos and how we strive for person centred care. Inspired by Montessori principles, we support clients towards independence and encourage integration into the community.

The final part of day 1 included an explanation about the problems currently being faced by our French partner,, who were not able to join us for this first face to face meeting. Covid-19 had compounded health and isolation issues which has resulted in thinking about withdrawing from the partnership. They feel it’s too risky to travel. A video link was made to introduce CLIC which is another small not for profit organisation located in the same area as CLIC works with the same client group as (older marginalised people, many with disabilities) and they are interested in joining the project. Pascal Pousse introduced himself and discussed the project with the partners.

Day 2

The second day started with a presentation from Fundacion Diagrama, the Spanish partner and the steering group host for this week. The organisation has been assisting vulnerable and socially excluded people since 1991. They are a large not-for-profit and they employ over 5000 professionals to help them achieve their aim. We listened to a presentation about the foundation’s Mental Health services as well as the services they provide for the Elderly population in Spain. Tomorrow we will visit a centre run by Fundacion Diagrama for children and young people who have been in conflict with the law.

The IT team at Fundacion Diagrama were on hand to talk with us about how their use of digital tools helps to promote the organisation and the work that they do. The digitals tools are also used to help with the integration of the services users back into society and have been invaluable during the pandemic.

During the afternoon, all partners discussed the impact and evaluation tools provided by Erasmus+ and how they would be used to monitor our progress during the life of the project.

Day 3

Today we were taken by the Spanish partner to visit Las Palmeras, Juvenile Detention Centre for young people who have been in conflict with the law. In this case the young people who were there had all presented with violent behaviour towards one or more of their family members. The Centre offers an open regime where the young people are still expected to attend schooling during the daytimes. During the evening and at weekends they will spend time with a psychologist as well as other professionals who will develop their social reintegration and liaise with the social workers and the families.

The partners found this trip a really worthwhile insight into the way that Spain views rehabilitation as paramount in these situations, which is comparison to some other countries, is a vastly different approach.

This has been a really interesting trip and it’s been great to hear about how the other partners approach good practice. The Spanish model has given us all lots to think about as the statistics show it works. The next trip to Belgium is the one that personally, I think I will gain the most from as the service users are of a similar demographic to the people Diagrama care for. I am looking forward to sharing ideas and good practices as well as learning from one another.