Packed First Half of 2017 Report underlining Independent Living (June 2017)
The below is an overview of the main activities carried out by the European Network on Independent Living (ENIL) in the first half of this year. The Saint Lazarus Foundation is a proud member of ENIL and has ensured that its various jurisdictions further project the works of this major European platform.
What have we done in the first half of 2017?
In March, two meetings took place as part of the campaign "EU Funds for Our Rights". On 2nd-3rd March, ENIL met NGO representatives from 10 member states, EU level NGOs, representatives of the EC (DG EMPL, DG REGIO), European Ombudsman and MEP Jana Zitnanska in Brussels. NGO representatives from 3 member states attended the event in Vilnius on 14th and 15th March. Find photos from both events, together with further information here.
On 27th-28th April, the third regional event of the "EU Funds for Our Rights" campaign took place in Bucharest. NGO representatives from 5 Member States attended the event and had very interesting discussions. It was an occasion to exchange concerns related to use of ESIF in Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Malta and Greece.
On 5th May, the 4th European Independent Living Day was celebrated by ENIL, its members and allies in more than 30 countries. This year's theme was "Things I Can Do Thanks to Independent Living". You can find the report here.
On 7th June, ENIL published a Press Release, expressing concerns about the planned investments into institutions for disabled people by the Government of Wallonia, Belgium.
On 13th June, the second meeting with the EU level NGOs took place, as part of the "EU Funds for Our Rights" campaign. The following organisations attended the meeting: Lumos, Community Living for Europe: Structural Funds Watch, Mental Health Europe and ERGO NET.
We published briefings and reports
On 31st March, ENIL published its Annual Report 2016, providing an overview of ENIL's work in the previous year. You can read some of the report's highlights and find the whole file in this article.
On 21st April, ENIL published a briefing on the impact of Brexit on the rights of disabled people in the UK, with a focus on Independent Living, and with suggested action points for DPOs. This was one of the outcomes of the Brexit workshop, organised on 20th March in London.
ENIL published a Report on the Barriers to Independent Living across the Globe which discusses the challenges related to the lack of understanding of Article 19 of the UN CRPD. It addresses concerns related to the universal applicability of the independent living concept, demonstrating that Article 19 can work anywhere in the world, regardless of cultural differences.
On 6th March, ENIL demonstrated with the European Disability Forum (EDF), of which the Saint Lazarus Foundation is also a proud member of, at the European Parliament in Brussels to raise awareness on the European Accessibility Act (EAA) and to ask the Internal Market Committee of the European Parliament to adopt a more ambitious position on this important legislative proposal. You can read more here.
We organised and spoke at events
On 27 January, ENIL's Policy Officer Ines Bulic took part in a seminar on deinstitutionalisation in Nicosia, Cyprus, as part of ENIL's involvement in the European Expert Group on the Transition from Institutional to Community-based Care (EEG).
On 20th March, ENIL, the European Citizen Action Service (ECAS) and the European Disability Forum (EDF), with the financial support of the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, organised a workshop entitled 'The Implications of BREXIT for the rights of disabled people in the UK'. The workshop, held in London, was part of the project "Brexit Takeaways". You can find a report from the event, materials and further information here.
On 6th April, Frank Sioen, ENIL's Advocacy Officer, spoke at the Disability Intergroup meeting at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. The main topic of the meeting was the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in the EU. Read a summary of the event here.
On 31st May - 1st June ENIL attended the meeting of the EU High Level Group on Combating Racism, Xenophobia and other forms of intolerance, which took place in Brussels.
We delivered training on deinstitutionalisation
On 28th March, the European Commission, in cooperation with the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) organised a TAIEX Workshop on Deinstitutionalisation: Advancing the Process of Transition from Institutional to Community-based Care. ENIL presented the key principles of moving from institutional care to living in the community, and some of the myths around independent living and deinstitutionalisation.
Over the past two years, ENIL has been co-chairing the European Expert Group on the Transition from Institutional to Community-based Care (EEG). During this period, we have played an active part in the group and have invested significant human (and some financial) resources in the work of EEG. Advocating for the closure of institutions, and the development of community-based alternatives, which is at the core of EEG's work, is what ENIL is focused on. Read more on this collaboration here.
We trained young people
From 28th May to 4th June, the ENIL Youth Network and the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) organised a joint study session entitled "Inclusion Culture - Promoting Leadership in Intercultural Understanding within Mixed-ability Groups". It brought together 24 young disabled and non-disabled people from different background and 18 different countries in Strasbourg, for a week of training and exchanging experiences.
We organised webinars
On 23rd February, ENIL organised the webinar "Disability Policy in the EU". This event was the first one of a series of webinars in 2017 on the work ENIL does at the European level. The webinars are delivered by ENIL's Advocacy Officer Frank Sioen. You can find report from the event, the presentations used and the webinar recording here.
On 29th March, ENIL organised the webinar "European Accessibility Act (EAA): the Facts" in order to inform the public about the benefits of the EAA and how it is negotiated in Brussels. You can find materials from the webinar here.
On 15th May, the webinar "Social Pillar: from Ideas to Impact" took place. You can find Frank's presentation and the webinar recording here.
We promoted independent living in Belarus
On 3rd May, ENIL, together with the Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (ORPD) in Belarus, and the Mental Health Perspectives (MHP) in Lithuania, sent an open letter to the Minister of Labour and Social Protection of the Republic of Belarus, Ms. Irina Anatolyevna Kostevich. The letter concerns the horrific treatment of children and young disabled people in long-stay residential institutions in Belarus, and calls on the authorities to take immediate steps to address this situation.
ENIL's project in Belarus, implemented in cooperation with Mental Health Perspectives (Lithuania) and the Office for the Rights of People with Disabilities (Belarus) is gaining momentum. A series of trainings were organised for Belarus civil society representatives, aimed to build their capacity to advocate for social inclusion and empowerment of disabled people. ENIL prepared and conducted trainings on networking, which aimed to foster a better understanding of networking, as a powerful tool for raising awareness and challenging stereotypes and prejudice towards disabled people, and to build participants' capacity to advocate for social inclusion and independent living.
What are our plans for the rest of 2017?
The second half of 2017 will be a busy period for ENIL, as we try to wrap up our activities for this year. Some of the things we have planned include:
ENIL 2017 Freedom Drive - one of ENIL's key campaigns, held every two years since 2003. The ENIL 2017 Freedom Drive will consist of a series of events, between 24th and 28th September, in Brussels. You can find regularly updated information and the registration form here.
Collection of best practice - ENIL, in cooperation with the European Disability Forum, will publish a compendium of best practice on Independent Living. It will be launched at an event in Brussels aimed at Member States, EC officials, MEPs, organisations and the general public.
Launching the 'Independent Living Research Network' database on the ENIL website
European Accessibility Act (EAA) - ENIL will continue following developments around the EAA, once the European Parliament is back in session in September.
Social Pillar - ENIL will monitor developments with the Social Pillar and continue advocating for an enforceable document.
Alliance against Disability Cuts (AADC) - a roundtable in the European Parliament will be organised during the Freedom Drive, hosted by MEP Marek Plura.
Disability Hate Crime - we will provide you with regular updates on our ongoing work on this topic.
Fact sheets on what independent living means when it comes to children and people will mental health problems will be published.
External evaluation - an independent external consultant has been hired to carry out an evaluation covering the last three years of ENILs work.
EU Funds for Our Rights Campaign - the Campaign will continue with meetings with MEPs and the European Commission officials. We will soon be publishing a briefing on the Monitoring and Complaints System and, later in the year, on the concerns in the current programming period 2014 - 2020.International Disability and Development Week - ENIL will be participating in this week in December with different activities.