I’m Rebecca, I’m 23 and I’m from Durham in the UK. I started working with ENIL in February 2017 as an EVS Volunteer in Brussels and will be with ENIL until the end of October.
I’m very passionate about improving the lives of disabled people so I’m excited to be working with ENIL as an office-based volunteer. During my volunteering I will gain experience of living independently with a personal assistant. This is my first time living away from home without my parents so it’s a new and exciting challenge for me! I also hope to find out whether I want work in the Independent Living Movement for the long term. I’m looking forward to getting to know disabled people from all around Europe and experiencing new cultures.
In my first month at ENIL, I have been most impacted by the campaign for deinstitutionalisation. I’ve been lucky enough to live with my family until now, and I was always in mainstream education, so I was unaware that institutions still presented such a barrier to independent living in Europe. Now I have a better understanding of the problem and I share the passion of campaigners fighting to end the institutionalisation of disabled people.
During my time at ENIL I will be writing and editing publications, engaging in policy work on the European Accessibility Act and the European Semester and working on campaigns such as Independent Living Day and the Freedom Drive. I hope that my work will have a real impact and that I can help make 2017 a successful year for ENIL!
A little on my background: in July 2016 I graduated from Northumbria University with a degree in Sociology. I started campaigning for the rights of disabled people when I was 13, firstly as an ambassador for the disabled children’s charity Whizz-Kidz and then as the Disabled Students’ Representative for my Students’ Union. I became a member of ENIL after I attended the 2014 Study Session on multiple discrimination. I have volunteered with ENIL remotely since January 2016 on the Youth Network Education Working Group.
I look up to several strong disabled women as role models. Ruth Madeley is best known as an award-winning actress but I am able to call her a friend and a mentor. I followed in her footsteps as an ambassador for Whizz-Kidz when I was younger, and she showed me my potential to be a strong advocate for young disabled people. Her work to improve the visibility of disabled people on screen continues to inspire me. Agnes Fazekas, ENIL Youth Network Board member shows such passion and dedication to inclusive education, and uses her academic work as a platform to make a difference. Finally, Zara Todd, the Chair of the ENIL Youth Network, supports me in my activism and consistently proves that it is possible to make real positive change for disabled people. I aim to continue in the spirit of their work over the next 7 months and beyond!