I went to Dunkirk at the end of April to attend an event organised by our member “Papillons Blancs de Dunkerque”. The event focused on the European Union, how we benefit from it and why it is important.
Having presented our work at the European level, I had the opportunity to learn more about a number of innovative EU-funded projects in which “Papillons Blancs de Dunkerque” has taken part:
– Project LOVE LIFE: This project enabled two self-advocates to become trainers on the topic of “The sexual and emotional life”. They met self-advocates from five other countries (Austria, Germany, Slovenia, the Netherlands and Wales). This training enabled participants to share their experiences, learn from each other’s ways of communication and meet other people who face similar difficulties. Now they give advice to professionals and families on how they can support people with intellectual disabilities best when it comes to their sexual and emotional lives.
– Project TRAIL: This project, funded by the Erasmus+ programme, aimed at supporting independent living for young adults with autism. “Papillons Blancs de Dunkerque”, together with partners from four countries (Greece, Spain, the UK and Sweden):
- carried out research to identify good practices and policies in the partners’ countries
- developed a training module for professionals working with people with autism and
- created a platform to enable professionals, researchers and young people with autism to share their experiences.
– Study visit to Sweden: Members of a number of French organisations went on a trip to learn about public attitudes in Sweden towards people with disabilities and about what is being done in the country to enable people with complex support needs to live in the community. Based upon this visit, participants drafted a report on how people with disabilities are being supported in Sweden, highlighting the importance given to self-determination, with the focus being placed on abilities rather than disabilities. The study visit was also an opportunity for the French participants to present some of their good practices in supporting people with complex support needs.
– Project Isaid: This project led by partners from Northern France and Wallonia looked at how we can improve self-determination amongst people with intellectual disabilities, and how to identify good practices amongst French and Belgian stakeholders. Materials are being produced, including in easy-to-read, to support professionals, families and people with intellectual disabilities to promote and implement good practices and foster self-determination.
Following the presentations about these different European projects, we had the opportunity to discuss with a very interested audience. We talked about how these projects can be used to improve the French system when it comes to supporting people with intellectual disabilities. Participants very much enjoyed this exchange. Many were relieved to learn that they are not the only ones facing certain challenges, and that these challenges can be overcome, as shown by the examples of other countries. All participants highlighted the importance to keep sharing experiences and learn from each other to identify innovative practices.