According to news reports, Estonia is building a “village” for people with autism, Down Syndrome and intellectual disabilities. The complex, which will cost over €4 million and consist of several “family homes” for ten people each, also uses funding from the European Regional Development Fund. It will be built on the countryside and “house” people from “nearby municipalities and Tallinn”, the Estonian capital.
Inclusion Europe strongly opposes this project, which creates segregation and is merely another institution in disguise.
The money should instead be used for support which will enable people with intellectual disabilities to live in the community, and not be segregated away.
Just recently, self-advocates have affirmed that money should be “invested in people, not in institutions“. According to former Inclusion Europe Vice-President Senada Halilčević, “an institution is not defined merely by its size. [Deinstitutionalisation is not the] mere relocation of people to apartments, houses or supported housing programmes.” Inclusion Europe’s director Milan Šveřepa has stated before that “EU funding must not directly or indirectly support segregation in institutions.”
Inclusion Europe is calling upon Estonia and the European Union to stop funding institutions and instead create and/or extend community-based support, which enables inclusion.