What is personal assistance and how to make it a reality in Turkey? These were some of the key questions addressed during the two-day roundtable for disabled people and supporters, which took place in Ankara at the end of February 2022. The event was part of the PAKT project, implemented in partnership between ENIL and the Association of Women with Disabilities (ENG-KAD).
The participants in the roundtable, 25 people from across Turkey, learned more about the different models of disability, the Independent Living philosophy and movement, the key elements of personal assistance and the experience of ENIL members in Greece and Slovenia with personal assistance advocacy. They engaged in lively discussions about the present and future of independent living in Turkey, the challenges and the opportunities for the development of personal assistance in the country and the role of different actors, individuals and organisations, in advocating for reforms.
At the end of the roundtable, the participants expressed their willingness to engage more actively with personal assistance advocacy. Turning their words into actions, they are currently working on drafting a model personal assistance policy for Turkey, which will be used in advocating for a pilot project at national or local level. They are also willing to take part in and supporting future awareness-raising activities.
The enthusiasm and commitment of the roundtable participants made ENG-KAD and ENIL more hopeful about the future of personal assistance in Turkey. At the beginning of the project, we felt somehow discouraged by the limited interest on the part of disabled people and we are now glad to see the network of personal assistance supporters expanding.