We are the FREEkey. We are a team of disabled and non-disabled people. The aim of our bottom-up initiative is to provide services that allow persons with disabilities to live in a self-determined way. This means we want to control our lives, to be able to decide on issues that concern us and are important to us, from meeting our basic needs to full participation in social life. Our movement and scientific work aims to organise and operate services that support Independent Living (such as personal assistance, supported employment, etc.). Our name is the composition of the ‘free’ and the ‘key’ words with an additional ‘key to freedom’ slogan, reflecting our Independent Living philosophy. It was intentional that our name sounds similar to ‘freaky’, because we proudly undertake our ‘freakiness’, thereby also emphasizing belonging to the disability movement.
Our team consists of 10 members, with an equal proportion of disabled activists and non-disabled allies. Learning from the successes of foreign precedents, where amendments to the law and the reorganization of the social network have led to the introduction and state funding of the Personal Assistance service, we are also building a grassroots movement. However, we are not only building a movement, we are also innovating. In line with our market approach, we consider ourselves social entrepreneurs. The FREEkey is a member of the Disability/Studies/and Social/Innovation Lab (DSSI Lab). DSSI Lab was established in November 2019 to provide a platform for debates and development leading to highly effective and innovative solutions to social challenges identified in disability studies and transdisciplinary research and development.
We have been having weekly meetings since September. Our cooperation was not an easy process because every member of the team has different potentials and backgrounds. But this is also the strength of our group. Our first project supported by JDC aims to promote the service of Personal Assistance through videos. Initially we wanted to show the stories of our team members with an emphasis on Independent Living (IL) and Personal Assistance (PA) but as COVID-19 has changed our priorities we felt the need to somehow reflect to a new reality by adjusting our messages accordingly.
Our new aim was to build a community through social media by making a community video. In our “call to action” video we asked people to send us footage about their experience in the quarantine. Highly exceeding our expectations, more than 100 videos were submitted after our “call”.
During the video submission period, we worked on building our brand on Facebook. As an introduction of our brand identity, all members changed their profile pictures and covers to their personal FREEkey portraits. Leading up to the final video premiere, we shared information about our activities and the members.
Since posting the final video, it has been viewed by almost 50,000 people with very positive feedback. You can watch our video with English subtitles here.
With our first campaign, we successfully introduced the FREEkey initiative, strengthened our team, and reached a lot of people, paving the way to rapidly grow and reach our goals.
Written by the FREEkey Team, Hungary