European Independent Living Day 2014; a Europe wide success!

European Independent Living Day 2014; a Europe wide success!

Firstly we would like to say a huge thank to all of the disabled people’s organisations and Centers of Independent Living across Europe who participated in the Stop Disability Cuts Campaign and raised awareness of the cuts to independent living and disability services on the first European Independent Living Day! The events were a huge success across Europe and we are inspired by the many unique activities and by the overwhelming number of people who took part in these events. Thank you for supporting and celebrating European Independent Living Day on the 5th May with us!

Here are some of the events that took place on the 5th May 2014:

In Belgium, the ” Walk of Shame” solidarity march and picnic in the EU district was organised by Onfhankelijk Leven. Candidate MEPs from Blegium and Holland walked alongside participants and several disabled peoples organisations from Belgium and Holland and other NGO’s also joined in the March. The march ended at the location of the ENIL Press Conference which took place in the EFC Philantrophy House. This Press Conference was organised by ENIL and the Alliance Against the Cuts Group.

In Bulgaria CIL Sofia marked the day by demonstrating at Sofia Airport with posters stating their wish to immigrate to a country with better living conditions for disabled people.

Imprinting Freedom was the name of the event in Estonia. Five MEP candidates spent a day together with a disabled person so they could take a look at each other’s everyday life and gain a better understanding. The main aim of this was to raise awareness on the impact of the cuts directly on disabled people and identify what needs to be done to improve Independent Living during the next European Parliament mandate. A press release was also published.

Armenia’s Campaign was named ” Equal Rights- Equal Opportunities” and was organised by the Skarp Health Center NGO to raise awareness and a lot of people sent their pictures with the message of their understanding of Equality and Independent Living. The 13 best pictures were chosen and they were played in a video. The video was disseminated throughout the whole of Armenia and some European Countries as it has english subtitles so many people can watch this video! The video was also published on the official pages of several politicians and representatives of local authorities making our voice louder. A press conference  on the Rights of disabled people was held in Heneran Press- Club in Yerevan organised by Unison NGO. The speakers were Armen Alaverdyan, Executive Director of Unison NGO and Marianna Chalikyan, PR Manager of Unison. Recent cuts of employment-aimed programs ( specifically, cuts of the program of partial salary reimbursement for employers who hire person with disabilities) as well as accessibility issues, inclusive education and other relevant topics were raised by the speakers. The press conference was covered by eight Armenian TV channels, several radio companies, newspapers and news websites.

A protest before Government buildings was held in Paris, France on the 9th and 27th April against the postponement of an improved accessibility law. A protesting movement named ““Paris Non Au Report 2015 -Action Coup de poing” ” (= “NO postponement”) focused against the postponement that the French government will do about the accessibility law were held in Rennes and in front of the Government building in Paris.

The event “Ohne Bundesteilhabegesetz – Keine Inklusion (Without federal participation law – no inclusion)” held in Germany was a big demonstration for a law for personal assistance and participation in a large activity at the Brandenburg gate. In many cities disabled people and their organisations and others organised in addition hundreds of events to raise awareness about the situation of disabled people. One of the big funding organisations will support the events of the protest day with money and public relations. This event is organised by German Council of Centers for Self-Determined Living (ISL).  About 1500 people attended in Berlin and Media Coverage was involved.

A roundtable with Members of Parliament and local disability organisations organised by Paraplegic’s Association of Drama in Greece took place. A press release was also sent to local media.

A dramatic photograph opportunity was undertaken in front of the European Commission building in Dublin, Ireland to highlight the continued erosion of the rights of disabled people on the 5th May 2014. Two prominent disability activists took part in this and each had something important to say about the impact of the cuts on disabled people. ” Cuts to support services are effectively making people prisoners in their own homes” said Michael McCabe, Chairman of the Center for Independent Living. According to Martin Naughton, Co-Director of ENIL, “Austerity measures driven by the EU and implemented by national governments are having a devastating impact on people with disabilities across Europe.”

“Independent living for people with disabilities: demands to the Europe” was name of the campaign held in Italy. In Rome a Conference with interesting speakers with the presentation of the Second Edition of the Award “Theatre and Disabilities” was held and organised by Avi Onlus Agency for Independent Living.

In Montenegro a press release was issued to highlight the campaign and the purpose of the European Independent Living Day.

In Ultrecht, Netherlands, a signature petition campaign organised by Terugnaarde bossen actiecomite was undertaken at the Support Beurs, Big Fair for disability aids and assistive technology on the 9th of May .

An awareness raising campaign through social media organised by ULOBA in Norway. 

Events took place in ten cities throughout Serbia to mark the European Independent Living Day. A local campaign for allocation of %0.1 of the city budget for Personal Assistance was also be launched. A Press Conference named Independent living – yesterday, today, tomorrow – with speakers from Ministry of Social Policy, INOSERV, CIL Serbia and direct users of PA service and video coverage was held in Belgrade. In Leskovac, Nis, Jagodina, Bor ; a press conferences on the importance of personal assistance services and mainstreaming it into local policy, in Kragujevac, Sombor, Cacak, a  street action took place promoting the Independent Living Day and printed material about independent living and PA service were distributed. An article was published in Somor, in Smederevo, a tribune on “Support services in social protection/special emphasise on PA was organised and in Novi Sad, ENIL’s factsheets and definitions were sent to all decision makers to influence change of the local policy for social protection in order to mainstream PA service into it.

International Conference on Deinstitutionalization” took place on May 6; an international single-day conference on the process of Deinstitutionalization in Slovenia.

The Spanish Confederation of Organizations for Persons with Intellectual Disability FEAPS(Confederación Española de Organizaciones en favor de las Personas con Discapacidad Intelectual) and the Federation of Independent Living FEVI (Federación de Vida Independiente) created a Press Release in a way of protesting about Disability Cuts and the Austerity Measures!

“Stop Disability Cuts Now!” was a protest against cuts to personal assistance services was organised in Farsta Torg in Stockholm by STIL and DHR in Sweden. Up to 70 people attended the Manifestation and two short speeches were held by president of DHR Rasmus Isaksson and STIL president Emma Johansson.

Doubling efforts on existing campaigns around the importance of independent living, and the Independent Living Fund were undertaken in the UK.  Local DPAC members and supporters were out on the streets in protest around the country on May 5th joining with unions and trades councils to raise disabled peoples’ issues in relation to cuts and the affects on independent living. DPAC also carried out an online event for raising awareness of the issue of facilitated communication.

As part of European day on independent living DPAC  ran a ground breaking article on facilitated communication (FC) written by members of Quiet Riot, an international group to raise the wider , sometimes forgotten issues crucial to the  independent living ethos: communication​ and the fundamental importance of inclusive education- stating why we must all support FC (as stated in the obligations of the UNCRPD) as a key part of independent living on this day, and all days.

East Midlands DPAC teamed up with their newest local DPAC group Leicestershire DPAC to raise the ILF issue with Anne Pridmore speaking to local press and those gathered. Jan and Anne giving out the Save ILF postcards designed and created by GMCDP, DPAC, ALLFIE, Inclusion London and Equal Lives. GMDPC ran a stall at Urmstan town centre getting ILF postcards signed and photos for the campaign and facebook page.  In Chesterfield: one of our newest members at DPAC Gary Matthews headed up an open meeting after the rallies and marches called  “We’re against austerity are you?”DPAC organised a mass tweet for those who couldn’t get to marches etc on the day, generating thousands of tweets and RTs through social media on the #saveILF campaign, European austerity, ENIL tools for European elections, ENIL European election manifesto, plus ILF post card campaign-picking up lots of great new European and international supporters through the day.

In Belarus a postcard action to highlight the violations on the rights of disabled people organised by the Office for the Rights of People with Disabilities.

Many of these activities received a lot of media attention and if you missed any please take a look at the photographs, videos, articles and media coverage from the events here!

For a compilation of photos from the events across Europe, please take a look at our facebook page:

Walk of Shame, Belgium:


Belgium: Video in Flemish:

Article in Flemish:

Article in French:

Walk of Shame:


Germany: Video:

Italy: Article


Serbia: Photos from Leskovac:

Photos from Belgrade;

Photos from Jagodina:

Photos from Kragujevac, Sombor, Cacak

Spain: FEAPS Press Release:

FEAPS remembering their Protests in 2012:




Here: 20140505




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