Next Steps Project receives Zero Project “Innovative Practices Award” 2015

(26 Mar 2015)

In February 2015, The Next Steps Project - which is a community of learning of 23 member organisations of the National Federation of Voluntary Bodies - was recognized as one of 39 “Innovative Practices 2015” at the United Nations offices in Vienna. The project was highlighted at the 2015 Zero Project Conference, an international summit on independent living and political participation attended by more than 400 experts in the field from around the world, for its achievements in supporting people with intellectual disabilities to live lives of their choosing and sharing the learning from developing individualised supports as a community of practice.

Below: The Next Steps Project receives the Zero Project Innovative Practices award 2015 for their work in offering individualised support and sharing lessons learned.

Next steps project being presented award Picture of delegates at Zero Project Conference 






Members of the Next Steps project were commended for developing individualized supports for people with intellectual disabilities so that they can live a life of their choosing.  The project was also commended for its work in supporting people in their move from congregated settings into community-based settings.

Issues addressed by the Project

National policy recommends that people with intellectual disabilities are fully included in their communities, and individualised support enables people to live full lives as equal citizens. However, this requires the provision of a flexible range of support services that are tailored to the needs of the individual, and that are primarily determined by the person him/ herself.


Solution & Methodology of the Next Steps Project

The Next Steps Project aims to identify both supports and barriers to progress, as service providers move to offer more individualised assistance so that the people they support can live a life of their choosing. Through the project the National Federation of Voluntary Bodies has developed a community of learning, connecting the member organizations and key stakeholders with each other and enabling cooperation as they develop more innovative community-based support. One of the first actions of the Next Steps project was for the participating organizations to agree on a vision for individualised support, and this vision remains at the centre of the initiatives that the members are continually developing and implementing.






Members of the Next Steps Project at a shared learning event

Outlook & Transferability

The National Federation of Voluntary Bodies are committed to ensuring that the learning gained is applied in a systemic way throughout the sector. In this regard, the Next Steps Project takes a case study approach, with each of the participating organizations reporting on their work with one or more persons on an individual basis, developing new types of support in line with the agreed vision. Initiatives are monitored regularly, and every two months the participants come together to share the lessons learned with all key stakeholders. Organizations have shared information through study visits, case study presentations, and two major national conferences. Currently, 23 organizations are participating in the project with over 240 people’s journey’s having been shared through case study learning to date.


The Zero Project

The Zero Project focuses on the rights of persons with disabilities globally. It provides a platform where the most innovative and effective solutions to problems that persons with disabilities face are shared. The Zero Project was initiated by the Essl Foundation in 2010, and has run in partnership with the World Future Council since 2011 and with the European Foundation Centre since 2013. The mission of the Zero Project is to work for a world without barriers, according to the principles and Articles of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD).

For further information on the Zero Project see

For further information on the Next Steps Project see the project page on this website.

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