ENIL’s regional members’ meeting took place in Warsaw on 9 and 10 September. The meeting was organized in cooperation with our Polish member – the Independent Living Institute from Warsaw.

The meeting provided an opportunity for our members (around 35 participants), from Belgium, Belarus, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Norway, Russia, Slovenia, and Sweden, to gather and speak about the Independent Living situation in their countries and the work they are doing to promote IL. ENIL was represented by Jamie Bolling (Board member), Natasa Kokic (Campaign Coordinator) and Kamil Goungor (Development Officer).

More concretely, on the first day, participants heard about ENIL’s work and everyone presented the Independent Living situation and the developments in their countries, as well as the challenges they face, and the strategies for IL advocacy in the Europe. In addition, there was a session on using EU funds to support IL.

On the second day, our Polish members reflected on the situation in Poland and the challenges faced, while YHD from Slovenia presented their new Personal Assistance Law, which was achieved after 20 years of advocacy. Finally, Marianne Knudsen from Norway and Jamie Bolling, from the Independent Living Institute in Sweden, spoke about how their PA systems work, about deinstitutionalisation and the lessons learnt in their countries.

On both days, participants had very lively discussions, and one of the outcomes was that no matter of how advanced the IL philosophy and systems are in a country, we all need to continue the fight, otherwise our rights will be endangered. They also identified many common challenges, such as institutionalization (often in the form of group homes), the power exerted by service providers and families, the lack of knowledge and understanding of IL (even among disabled people), the misuse of funds for investments into institutions, the lack of inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities and mental health problems etc. Finally, they emphasized the importance of peer support, of working together, learning from each other and of the crucial role of ENIL in all this.

For more information, please contact Kamil Goungor at: kamil.goungor@enil.eu