At the European Network on Independent Living – ENIL, we have had a busy start of the new year, as we begin implementing our Strategic Plan for 2022 – 2025. Many of you have contributed to the consultation last year, so hope that you will find the activities relevant to what is happening in your countries.
There will be many opportunities to promote Independent Living in 2022. We will be starting with the Global Disability Summit (16 – 17 February) and continuing with the March session of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. During this session, the Committee will adopt a List of Issues Prior to Reporting (LOIPR) for the European Union and the Guidelines on Deinstitutionalisation. We will be submitting a Shadow Report on the CRPD implementation in the EU and taking part in meetings with the Committee. With the Global Coalition on Deinstitutionalisation, we will work on dissemination of the Guidelines, once they are published, and will facilitate participation of our members in the DPO consultation next month.
Our main event this year will be the Freedom Drive, which will take place in Brussels on 26 – 28 September. We are already working on the programme, which will include a conference, several workshops, a protest and, as always, a party. Because of the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ENIL Board has decided to organise the General Assembly and Board elections online, on 15 October. We hope to meet the prospective new Board members during the Freedom Drive! ENIL Youth will also elect a new Board this year, most likely in the first half of the year.
In addition to the Freedom Drive, we will have another regional members’ meeting, once again face to face. The location is still being confirmed, but this will be the first in-person members’ meeting after the one in Poland, in September 2019. We aim to co-organise the meeting with one of our members, and to learn more about Independent Living and the Centres for Independent Living in their country (if you would like this to be in partnership with your organisation, please contact Kamil Goungor at: firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Independent Living Day, on 5 May, will focus on youth, given that this year has been designated as the European Year of Youth. Our Youth Network is also putting on another study session from 13 – 18 June at the European Youth Centre in Strasbourg, with a focus on Sustainable Development Goals. Applications for the study session, co-organised with the Council of Europe Youth Department, have just opened.
In light of the Commission guidelines on independent living, which will be published next year, we will soon launch a call for members of the ENIL (DPO) task force to elaborate a proposal for the guidelines. The task force will meet during this year, with a view to presenting a proposal to the European Commission by December.
In addition to the various events, you can expect several reports from us this year, starting with the Shadow report. On 1 March, we will launch a report on the use of EU funding to support deinstitutionalisation globally, together with the European Disability Forum. Finally, we plan to publish a new Myth Buster, this time on Personal Assistance, and have it ready for the Freedom Drive. The Independent Living Survey, which we carried out in 2020, will be updated with new information. Our new website, funded by the Bente Fund, will be launched by May, and you will be able to access materials about Independent Living in new formats – through videos, podcasts and in easy-to-read.
We still have several projects running, and you can expect frequent updates. These are the TRIPS project, on transport, the PAKT project, on personal assistance in Turkey, the project on family planning with the UN Population and Family Fund, the EntreAll Project, on self-employment (entrepreneurship) of disabled people, as well as the partnership with the Centre for Disability Studies of the University of Leeds. The EU Funds for Our Rights Campaign also continues, and you can expect to hear about the forthcoming webinars of the European Coalition for Community Living and the Independent Living Research Network.
Earlier this month, we signed a Framework Partnership Agreement for 4 years with the European Commission, which will support the majority of our work this year, and in the coming years. In addition, we are also thankful to our members in Norway and Sweden – ULOBA, STIL and GIL – for their generous support of our work, and making sure we have co-funding for the European Commission grant. Thanks to this funding, we are able to recruit a new Policy Coordinator and a part time Project Officer (for which you can still apply), and have slightly reorganised our team. If our ESC Quality Label application is successful, we also plan to host one or two European Solidarity Corps volunteers this year, most likely in the second half of the year.
For regular updates about our work, as well as news about upcoming events, please follow our website and social media. For our members, the monthly Members’ Mailing will continue with more inside information, calls for action and Freedom Drive updates.
Finally, if you want to join us, please consider becoming a member of ENIL or ENIL Youth. We look forward to working together and being Proud, Strong and Visible in 2022!