From 5 – 7 June Europe in Action 2019 took place in Vilnius, Lithuania. The theme was “Everyone can live by the river” and focused on our right to be independent and included in the community.
More than 200 people with intellectual disabilities, their families, activists and professionals gathered to discuss issues and share experiences and ideas to promote inclusion at the event co-hosted by Inclusion Europe, their member Viltus, and the Lithuanian Ministry of Social Security and Labour.
The programme contained workshops addressing; Lithuania and other European countries work to ensure the right to live independently, supporting people with complex needs to be included, the role of families when people with intellectual disabilities prepare themselves for living independently, and the support families need, the practice of supported decision-making and reforms of legal capacity and of electoral laws.
It also included two open space sessions which invited participants to gather in public spaces around Vilnius to explore the ambitions and struggles for independent living in context.
We especially enjoyed attending our members sessions and learning more about their European efforts!
Annemarie Duffy and Kathleen McTeigue, Inclusion Ireland, shared their experiences living independently and having their own business after having previously lived in institutions for 30 years.
Harry Roche, Mencap, shared his thoughts on the situation of people with intellectual disabilities in Lithuania.
Jeanne Nicklas-Faust, Lebenshilfe Germany, talked about the decision taken by the German Constitutional Court stating that people under guardianship cannot be denied the right to vote.
Berta Gonzalez Anthon, Plena Inclusion, showcased their “Todas Somos Todas” Strategy and “Mi Casa” project, which supports deinstitutionalisation.
Camille Latimier, Inclusion Czech Republic, explained how her organisation works with banks to make banking more accessible.
Osamu Nagase, Chair of our Membership Committee, talked about a new self-advoacy group in Japan, formed in response to the killing of 19 people with intellectual disabilities in a residential service in 2016. He also shared some of the moving messages of support he received from our international network which provided him some much needed comfort at that difficult time.
The conference offered similtaneous translation and made good use of accessibility cards to ensure everybody could engage in the discussions.
Save the date for Europe in Action 2020 which will take place in Vienna, Austria from 27 – 29 May 2020 and focuses on Quality Education for all.