ENIL 2017 Freedom Drive – September 25th – 28th, Brussels

2017 Events Dedicated to Martin Naughton, the Father of the Freedom Drive

You can find materials from the ENIL 2017 Freedom Drive below:


The ENIL Freedom Drive is one of the key campaigns of the European Network on Independent Living (ENIL) – held every two years since 2003. It provides supporters of the Independent Living Movement with the unique opportunity to meet Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and promote human rights issues, as well to share experiences and ideas with colleagues from around Europe. The first 6 editions of the event took place in Strasbourg, until 2015, when for the first time the venue was changed to Brussels for strategic reasons. The ENIL 2017 Freedom Drive will take place between 25th and 28th September, in Brussels again. It will be dedicated to Martin Naughton – the father of the ENIL Freedom Drive – who we lost in 2016. It will consist of a series of events, culminating with a march from the European Parliament to the European Commission, under the theme ’Independent Living Heroes: Past, Present and Future’. ENIL invites all the members, disabled people’s organisations, disabled people and allies to join us in Brussels during this exciting week, so that we can once again show we are proud, strong and visible!

Goals of the ENIL 2017 Freedom Drive

  • To raise the key concerns of the European Independent Living movement with the European policy and decision makers in Brussels;
  • To raise awareness about the need for an accessible Brussels – our European capital;
  • To remember the leaders of the European Independent Living movement who left us in 2016, such as the founder of the Freedom Drive, Martin Naughton, as well as our colleagues Peter Lambreghts and Debbie Jolly, and to celebrate and inspire current and future leaders;
  • To discuss how to make the Independent Living movement more inclusive – of children with disabilities and other voices that may not be heard;
  • To facilitate an exchange of ideas and knowledge on Independent Living, with the aim to inspire Independent Living activists;
  • To provide opportunities for development of new ideas, strategies and partnerships.

Freedom Drive on Facebook.

Download Freedom Drive’s flyer here.

Download Motivational Events poster here.

Download Freedom Drive Declaration here.

Download Freedom Drive Participant Pack here.


Overview of the week*


25 September: Motivational Events – five meetings on the following topics:

10:00h – 11:30h    Setting up a CIL

12:00h – 13:30h    Setting up a national Youth Network

14:00h – 15:30h    Monitoring the UN CRPD

16:00h – 17:30h    Being a proud disabled person

18:00h – 19:30h    Being an ally to your child (for parents and carers)

Spaces are limited to 20 persons per meeting, so register quickly as registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. The events will start at 10:00h and will run until 19:30h, with 30 minutes in between. The exact schedule will be available closer to the Freedom Drive. You can print and spread the motivational events poster.

Venue: Paulo Freire room at Mundo J, Rue de l’Industrie 10

26 September:

National MEP meetings – if you need support for planning your meeting, you can request an ENIL Staff or Board member to brief your group. You can do so by sending an email to Dilyana Deneva at dilyana.deneva@enil.eu

Venue: European Parliament

13:00h – 15:00h    ENIL Youth Network General Assembly

15:30h – 17:00h    ENIL Youth Network Board meeting

Venue: Paulo Freire room at Mundo J, Rue de l’Industrie 10

27 September:

10:00h – 12:30h: March from the European Parliament to the European Commission under the theme ’Independent Living Heroes: Past, Present and Future’

Venue: Meeting point near the European Parliament

12:30h – 13:30h  Pre-conference lunch (for conference participants)

14:00h – 17:00h   ENIL Freedom Drive Conference on the topic ’Independent Living: A Voice for All’ Venue: Autoworld, Parc du Cirquantenaire 11

13:00h – 14:00h   Registration

14:00h – 14:20h   Opening session

Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Marianne Thyssen

Kapka Panayotova, President, European Network on Independent Living (Bulgaria)

14:20h – 14:35h   Keynote speech – Every child has a right to grow up in a family

Maja Lorenz (6 years old), supported by her father Magnus Lorentz, JAG Association (Sweden)

14:40h – 15:40h   Panel I: Children’s right to live independently in the community – state of play

Tara Flood, Director, Alliance for Inclusive Education (UK)

Sir Roger Singleton CBE, Consultant, Lumos (UK)

Child self-advocate Julie (15 years old), supported by Nema (Belgium)

Bengt Westerberg, Chair of the Board of the Swedish Institute for Disability Research (Sweden)

15:45h – 16:45h   Panel II: Promoting the rights of children with disabilities in Europe – the way forward

Mairead McGuinness, Vice-President of the European Parliament

Julius Opdebeke, C3 Unit – Disability and Inclusion, European Commission

Child self-advocate Wilma Hallgren (8 years old), supported by her mother Anna Hallgren (Sweden)

Michela Costa, Head of Global Advocacy, Hope and Homes for Children/Opening Doors for Children Campaign (Belgium)

16:50h – 17:00h   Concluding remarks – Strengthening children’s participation in the Independent Living Movement

Zara Todd, Chair, incoming Executive Director, ENIL (UK)

17:30h – 19:30h   ENIL General Assembly

19:30h – 23:00h   ENIL Freedom Drive Celebration Cocktail and Dinner

28 September

18:00h – 21:00h    North Regional Team meeting

Venue: Paulo Freire room at Mundo J, Rue de l’Industrie 10

Freedom Drive events

Motivational and capacity building meetings: These five small meetings will provide the Freedom Drivers with an opportunity to learn something new, or to exchange experiences or ideas with activists from other countries. Topics can be seen in the agenda above. Since each session is limited to attendance of 20 persons, registration will happen on first-come, first-serve basis, by sending an email to dilyana.deneva@enil.eu For those who cannot attend the Motivational events, ENIL would suggest another activity – visiting the House of European History (EU museum on the premises of the Parliament). The museum is an interactive place where you can learn more about the history and structure of the EU and its institutions.

National MEP meetings: You will have the unique opportunity to meet your national MEPs and discuss issues related to disability policy in your country. These meetings need to be organised by the national groups – send invitations to your MEPs as soon as possible (via email/phone) and suggest a meeting on 26th September in the European Parliament. You can find a list of MEPs and their contact details here.

ENIL General Assembly: ENIL will hold its General Assembly on 27th September, in Autoworld, Parque de Cirquantenaire 11. During the ENIL GA the ENIL board elections are held.  All Freedom Drivers are welcome to attend the General Assembly, but only ENIL Full members (individual and organisations) have the right to vote. If you cannot attend the GA and are a member of ENIL, you can vote through a proxy vote. You should ask someone you know who is attending to take your proxy with them to the GA and then to vote on your behalf. See the proxy voting template here. At the ENIL GA the constitution will be updated. The suggested changes can be found here and the GA documents here. During the Freedom Drive, the ENIL Youth Network will also hold its General Assembly and a new Board will be elected. Find more information on that here.

March: The Freedom Drive March is the culmination of the exciting event. Its theme is ’Independent Living Heroes: Past, Present and Future’, and we invite Freedom Drivers to create banners with the photos or quotes from their Independent Living heroes. The Brussels police have approved its route and we will soon communicate it to you. The start is planned near the European Parliament, from where we will go towards the European Commission and then to the Autoworld for the ENIL Conference and other events.

Conference: The conference will focus on the topic ’Independent Living: A Voice for All!’. It will be opened by the Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Marianne Thyssen. Other sessions will provide a space to discuss how to ensure that disabled children have a stronger voice within the Independent Living movement, and what support services are needed to support families with disabled children. A draft conference agenda can be found here.

Celebration: After the march and the conference, the only logical end of the day (27th September) is a proper celebration! It will start at 19:00h in Autoworld, Parque de Cirquantenaire 11. A dinner where you can mingle with the other Freedom Drivers will be followed by a party. Places will be limited to around 300.

Independent Living Heroes

Each month up to the end of the year, ENIL will include an articles about prominent Independent Living activist (our Independent Living Heroes) in the ENIL Newsletter. In order to have heroes from across Europe celebrated during the Freedom Drive, ENIL would like to encourage our members to send us information about their local Independent Living heroes. Mher Hakobyan, our EVS volunteer, can be of support to you in writing articles that can be published on the ENIL website. Mher can be contacted at: evsvolunteer2@enil.eu Our hashtag for the ENIL 2017 Freedom Drive is #ENILFD17, so please use it whenever you post on the social media. Thank you!

Registering for the Freedom Drive

The Freedom Drive participation fee covers all the materials for the week-long event, coffee breaks, food and drinks at the celebration dinner and party. It is 25 EUR per person for ENIL Members and 50 EUR for non-members. Instructions on how to make this contribution can be found in the Registration Form. Those who plan to attend only the conference and/or march, and no other event, do not need to pay the participation fee. ENIL has prepared an updated fundraising guide and a template letter to potential sponsors in order to help you. Please note that those planning to join only the march, and no other event, do not need to complete the registration form.

Transport around Brussels and accommodation

Participants are responsible for arranging their travel to Brussels and their accommodation. In the links below, you will find information about the hotels and the city of Brussels. You will also find a fundraising guide, with ideas on how to raise funds for taking part in the Freedom Drive.

Useful contacts

For more information, please contact the Freedom Drive Coordinator Dilyana Deneva at dilyana.deneva@enil.eu A list of national contact persons is available here. They will be able to provide you with more information about who is coming from your country and how to organise a group of participants to travel together, as well as with materials you may need to plan your trip.

Fundraising guide (2015) Link
Fundraising guide (2017) Link
List of hotels in Brussels with accessible rooms Link
List of less expensive places near Brussels Link
Informational website about Brussels Link
Website about Brussels’ transport accessibility Link

For further information, please contact secretariat@enil.eu

Last updated on 18 September 2017