The Freedom Drive began in Strasbourg in 2003, at the initiative of late Martin Naughton, the Irish Independent Living pioneer. Every two years, it brought together Independent Living activists and allies from across Europe, first in Strasbourg, then in Brussels. In 2019, when the last Freedom Drive took place, over 200 people came together for three days of learning, peer support, protest and celebration.
The Freedom Drive was scheduled to take place this year too, but like everything else, it was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is the first time since 2003 that ENIL decided to postpone the Freedom Drive and to replace it with a series of online events. The Freedom Surf took place on the same dates we were supposed to meet in Brussels – from the 21st to 23rd September. For those who missed it, you can find all the recordings on our You Tube channel.
With the easing of restrictions and the increasing number of people protected against the virus, the ENIL Board started planning next year’s event. We are happy to announce that it will take place from the 26th – 28th September 2022, in Brussels. Please mark these dates in your calendars!
As preparation for next year’s Freedom Drive, ENIL will soon start a process of pre-registration. We would like to find out how many of you are planning to come to Brussels, so that we know if to plan a small, medium, or a large event. If many of you decide not to travel next year, for whatever reason, we will combine in person activities with online activities.
We know that the main concern of many of you will be the cost of getting to and staying in Brussels. For this reason, we will soon start sharing some fundraising ideas. For those of you coming from the European Union, one thing to do quite soon would be to contact your MEP and ask them whether they could fund your trip. As in the previous years, we will share more information on how to do this, as well as other ideas during October.
As for the programme, you can expect the usual mix of interesting workshops, events, protest and social activities. We will also meet together in the General Assembly and elect the new Board, both for ENIL and the ENIL Youth. The added dimension of the Freedom Drive 2022 will be the possibility to meet again, after the isolation and other challenges of living through the pandemic. We therefore hope that we will be able to meet many of you in Brussels, and once again spend the inspiring and energising three days together.