Sofia in expanding its work with marginalised communities has launched a focused intervention for the inclusion and development of young people and adults with disabilities(14 years and above) since June 2022  with two cross-disability professionals on board. Persons with disabilities face multiple marginalising factors including disability, gender, age, caste, class, region, religion and migration. When they engage with their environment, which is not fully inclusive they face barriers (attitudinal, structural and communicational) leading to exclusion, discrimination, invisiblisation and infantilization. Recongising that they are a community who need to be included in all facets of life, Sofia has initiated this work.

Sofia’s belief in economic empowerment is the motivating factor in choosing to work on the aspect of livelihoods and meaningful occupation for persons with disabilities. In order to do this, a holistic life cycle approach has been adopted, wherein due weightage is given not only to the person with disability but also to the support system which is most often the immediate family. Taking an individualised approach addressing both the individual’s impairment and the societal barriers, an effort is made to develop and support the potential of the person by providing opportunities for participation in all spheres of life such as citizenship, livelihood, leisure, education and relationships. The intervention also provides reasonable accommodations, wherever possible. Building economic capacity for people with disabilities is a very crucial aspect leading to inclusion, equality, acceptance, self-worth and dignity. Most often having a person with disability in the family adds to costs – in the absence of government schemes and policies or their poor implementation, the person’s caregiving needs fall on family members, reducing the earning capacity of the family as a whole. With an inaccessible health and rehabilitation system, costs related to reducing the impact of the impairment are very high.

While Sofia is at present looking for a support grant to work in a sustained manner towards livelihoods, meaningful occupation, awareness generation on disability in the community, access to relevant welfare entitlements and the well-being needs of persons with disabilities and their primary carers, it has initiated steps towards the same. In the time span of just four and a half months, the Sofia team has managed to complete the entitlement process for 14 persons while 34 applications are pending completion. 4 identified beneficiaries of ours have received support in acquiring or repairing of their aids and appliances through collaboration with ALMCO and the Delhi Bharat Vikas Foundation. One widow beneficiary has been placed in Sofia’s homeless shelter while 9 have received ration and nutritional support. Apart from this, 10 identified beneficiaries have received support with medical issues, follow-ups and treatments through both government hospitals and St. Stephen’s Hospital, Meezban Charitable Clinic online consultation and The Leprosy Mission Community Hospital. In livelihoods currently two persons have been enrolled into the tailoring programme at Sofia. We have also been working in close coordination with the office of the District Magistrate and the Medical In-charge of Northeast Delhi District on the case of a child with disability regarding issues of education, accessibility and health.