Freedom Drive 2022: What can you expect?

Freedom Drive 2022: What can you expect?

In seven months, from the 26th – 28th September, we will meet in Brussels for ENIL’s Freedom Drive. The Freedom Drive was held every two years since 2003 and last year was the first time that was postponed, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We are happy that the situation seems to be improving, so we can meet once again face-to-face in Brussels for the 10th Freedom Drive. In order to help you plan your participation, this article outlines the programme of events over the three days.

The overall theme of the 2022 Freedom Drive will be “50 Years of Independent Living” and it will be dedicated to Kapka Panayotova, our former President and the founder of Independent Living in Bulgaria, who passed away suddenly in October last year.

Day 0, 25th September – Arrival of the Freedom Drivers in Brussels

Day 1, 26th September – There will be six workshops during the first day of the Freedom Drive, on the following topics: Monitoring and reporting; Deinstitutionalisation; Personal Assistance; Youth and Employment. Examples of good practice, reports and toolkits will be presented by our members from across Europe and external speakers. Freedom Drivers will be able to register before each workshop and collect their T-shirt and materials.

We recommend that those whose countries have Members in the European Parliament schedule their meetings with MEPs during Day 1 too, if they can.

In the evening, members of the ENIL Board and Youth Board will meet to discuss ENIL’s proposal for the European Commission guidelines on Independent Living.

Day 2, 27th September – The second day of the Freedom Drive will start with a protest march through Brussels. Banners, drums, whistles and other things to make noise are strongly encouraged. We also plan to have a surprise art installation somewhere along the protest route, which still needs to be confirmed. Our aim will be to pass all important EU institutions, and end in front of the European Parliament.

After the protest, representatives of Freedom Drive delegation will go to the European Parliament for a hearing hosted by MEP Katrijn Langesiepen. We will discuss the second review of the European Union by the CRPD Committee and the Concluding Observations.

At the end of the second day, we will have a party for all the Freedom Drivers, with food and drinks. If all goes to plan, you will also be able to meet those standing for the ENIL Board, to be elected during the online General Assembly on the 15th October 2022.

Day 3, 28th September – On the final day of the Freedom Drive, we will get together for a conference to share and learn from each other. We will focus on the role of digital technologies in supporting Independent Living and the impact on availability of human support. With major funding available to Member State to support the development of digital technologies, we want to adopt our position as the Independent Living movement on the issue.

During the Freedom Drive, there will also be an interactive, one-day event for young people to explore activism, organised by Dr. Miro Griffiths from the University of Leeds.

Venues for all events are still being confirmed, but they will be close to the European Parliament. While we hope that most participants will be able to join in person, we will also make sure that online participation is possible, at least for some of the events. Registration for the Freedom Drive will open in April, but we hope that you are already planning your trips, and look forward to seeing many of you in Brussels.

If you have any questions about the Freedom Drive, please contact Natasa Kokic at natasa.kokic@enil.eu.

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