EPSA activities in 2020

László Bercse. talks about what EPSA worked on in 2020.

EPSA activities in 2020

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My name is László Bercse.
I come from Budapest, Hungary.
I am the Vice-President of Inclusion Europe
and the Chair of EPSA.
EPSA is the European Platform of Self-Advocates.

I would like to tell you
what EPSA worked on in 2020.

New challenges

The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way we work.
It affected the work of the EPSA Steering Group
and the work of EPSA members.

Most organisations worked online.
This was difficult for some self-advocates,
who have no computer, phone
or access to the internet.

For some self-advocates
it was difficult to join online meetings
without having their supporters in the same room.
As an international organisation,
It was very difficult for us because of the translation.

But we continued working
and speaking up.
Self-advocates discovered new ways
to stay in contact and to advocate.

Ana Martínez

A new member of the Steering Group

In 2020 we said goodbye to Harry Roche.
Harry decided to focus on his national work
in the United Kingdom.
Harry had been a Steering Group member for a long time.
We were happy to work with Harry
and wished him all the best for the future.

Ana Martinez from Spain got elected
as the new member of the Steering Group.
Ana had been working with the Steering Group
for some time already.
We were glad to welcome Ana to the group.

Steering Group meeting in Brussels

In January, we had a Steering Group meeting in Brussels.
We started planning the Hear Our Voices 2021 conference.
We talked about how Inclusion Europe can better include
self-advocates in its work.

We also talked about
how EPSA can include more
young people
self-advocate women
and people with complex support needs.

This was the first and also the last time
we met in person in 2020.
In the rest of the year, we had online meetings.

european commission logo
Elisabeta-Moldovan picture

Towards Inclusion conference

In January, the European Commission
organised a conference in Brussels.
The title of the conference was Towards Inclusion.
The conference was about
the 10 years of deinstitutionalization, in Europe.

Elisabeta Moldovan was one of the speakers.
Elisabeta is a member of the EPSA Steering Group.
Elisabeta told her experiences about institutions
and about the importance of support.

Position paper on the COVID-19 situation

In spring, EPSA prepared a questionnaire.
We asked our members
how they were coping with the situation.
We used the answers to write a position paper.
We wrote about the main issues
and what we want to achieve.

We want to make sure that our rights are respected
and we are not left behind.
We want to be considered
when planning support services for the future.

EDF conference

EDF is the European Disability Forum.
EDF and Lebenshilfe Germany
organised an online conference in October.
The conference was about the situation
of people with disabilities during COVID-19.

Adreas Zehetner was one of the speakers.
Andreas is from Austria.
He is a member of EPSA Steering Group.
Andreas said that governments
not always consider us when planning measures.

Self-Advocates in Inclusion Europe’s board

Our self-advocate colleague, Harry Roche
left Inclusion Europe’s board as well.
Oswald Föllerer took over his position
and joined the board.
Oswald is an Austrian member of EPSA Steering Group.
Oswald helps us to make sure
that the voices of self-advocates
are heard in Inclusion Europe.

The project My Talents for Diversity

In 2020 Inclusion Europe had a project about employment.
The title of the project was My Talents for Diversity.
The project aimed to support the employment
of people with intellectual disabilities.
Self-Advocates also worked on the project.

There were online events in during the project.
I spoke at two of the events.
I spoke about
why employment is important for self-advocates
and how to support the employment
of self-advocates.

The conference of PSONI

PSONI is the Polish Association
of Persons with Intellectual Disability.
In November, PSONI organised an online conference
for self-advocates.
I sent a video message to the conference.
I talked about the work of EPSA
and the role of self-advocates in Inclusion Europe.

Learning by Sharing events

In November, EPSA organised national events
for self-advocates, online.
We called them Learning by Sharing.
Self-advocates could
share their experience about the COVID-19 situation
and learn from each other.

We had 7 online events in 7 different languages.
We had 71 attendees altogether, from 11 countries.

Self-advocates shared how they overcame difficulties,
so others could learn ways to do the same.
We also heard useful suggestions on how governments should
support us and ensure our rights
in situations like this in the future.

european commission logo

European Day of Persons with Disabilities

Every December, the European Commission
organises a conference
called the European Day of Persons with Disabilities.
This year they had a discussion about the COVID-19 situation
and the recovery after the emergency.

I was asked to speak at discussion.
I said that the governments must learn
from the experiences.
They must listen to us,
when planning protection measures.
Our lives are as valuable as others’.

Thank you!

I want to thank my colleagues
and everyone in our movement
for their work in 2020.

I really admire all persons with intellectual disabilities,
family members supporting them
and the staff of services.

I hope that 2021 is going to be a better year.
I am looking forward
to meet you in person soon!

László Bercse
European Platform of Self-Advocates

Our work brings the voice of people with intellectual disabilities and their families where decisions about their future are made.

This has always been incredibly important. It is even more so with the Covid pandemic drastic impact on their rights and lives.

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