On 14th and 15th March, in the Polish capital Warsaw, the “Seminar on the Transition from Institutional to Community-based Care” took place. It was organized by the Polish Ministry of Economic Development, the European Expert Group on Transition from Institutional to Community-based Care (EEG) and the European Commission. It was part of a series of seminars the EEG is holding in several European countries, with the purpose of contributing to the deinstitutionalisation process. ENIL (a member of EEG) was represented by its volunteer Kamil Goungor, who had two presentations.
On the first day, Kamil (the only disabled person there) held a presentation entitled “Support that enables community living”, referring to his experience with the European Voluntary Service (EVS) and his work at ENIL and Onafhankelijk Leven in Belgium, which was only possible thanks to the personal assistance budget he received through the programme. He underlined the importance of accessibility and inclusion for all by promoting and achieving independent living.
On the second day, Kamil presented a personal assistance scheme based on the successful Swedish model and emphasized on the key elements needed to live independently with maximum self-determination. “Every policy that concerns disabled people, seniors, people with mental health issues or children must include them in the decision-making process. They have the right to decide about their own lives” – he said.
The EEG was invited to Poland by the Ministry in order to support their regional authorities in drafting the European Social Fund (ESF) selection criteria. The event led to productive pragmatic discussions with national and regional level authorities. The participants worked on the development of selection criteria based on a community-based support approach in the following areas: care services and personal assistance, housing services, elderly services and family and foster care, which were developed by the regional authorities of Poland.
The authorities welcomed the presence of external expertise by the EEG, stating that it helped challenge participants’ mindsets and beliefs. Poland is a country going forward and developing fast in many ways, but when it comes to the rights of disabled people – a lot of improvements need to be done. This seminar on deinstitutionalisation was one step in the right direction. ENIL is glad to see that Poland has shown interest in supporting Independent Living and encourages every country to do the same. It is not easy, but is the only way towards a future with respected human rights for all.