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Speech from László Bercse at Europe in Action 2021 conference.
I am László Bercse from Hungary.
I am the chairperson of EPSA,
which is the European Platform of Self-Advocates.
I am also the Vice-president of Inclusion Europe.
Let me welcome you to Europe in Action 2021 conference.
I am glad that at least this way
we can meet each other.
Today I would like to talk about
why employment is important for self-advocates
why employment is needed in order to achieve inclusion
and how the coronavirus pandemic affected
the employment of people with intellectual disabilities.
We want to live like anyone else.
We need money to be able to do this.
We also like to go to the movies
to the theatre, to have fun.
This is only possible,
if we have a job and a fair salary.
At the same time, we might need support
to live independently.
Good support and good quality services
cost a lot.
If we work, we get an opportunity
to learn new skills
gain new experiences
and to meet new people.
So, it is clear:
We need to make sure,
that people with intellectual disabilities can work.
We want real work, in the open labour market.
We want to do something useful!
We want a normal salary, not pocket money.
Employment is also crucial for inclusion.
We want to contribute to society.
It is better for everyone if we can work too.
Although, we must not forget:
We shouldn’t just value people
according to their ability to work.
People who are not able to work
are valuable as well.
There are people who cannot find work
due to lack of right jobs
or lack of the right skills.
Or, most likely, they’ve never had
the right support to find a job.
Self-advocates might need support
to find a job and to do the job.
In order to find a job,
we also need to access vocational training.
We need to make sure,
that people with intellectual disabilities
can work together with other people.
To make this happen,
we need employers and colleagues
who are prepared and open.
They need to know us, include us
and to adapt to our skills.
I must emphasise:
Family members need support in employment as well.
Many family members cannot work,
because they need to care for their relative
with high support needs.
As a result, many families face discrimination,
exclusion and poverty.
If we want the full inclusion
of persons with intellectual disability,
we need to work for the inclusion of their families too.
I am lucky because I have a job, which I enjoy.
I have support to do my job.
I have been able to work from home
since last spring.
Unfortunately, not everyone is that lucky.
The coronavirus affected our lives,
and employment as well.
The pandemic made existing issues even more visible.
Last year, EPSA did a questionnaire.
We asked our members,
how the pandemic effected their lives.
Many self-advocates mentioned employment in their answers.
Self-advocates were worried
that they were going to lose their jobs
because of the pandemic.
And many unfortunately did.
So, governments must consider us,
when planning support measures for unemployed persons.
They must consider us
when planning the protection
measures against COVID-19
and the recovery after the crisis.
The European Union and national money
for economic recovery must reach people
with intellectual disabilities and families.
The money must go into support,
especially in inclusive education
and in employment for people with intellectual disabilities.
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.
Being visible and vocal on issues directly affecting millions of people requires your support.
Become Inclusion Europe supporter and help us keep doing our work.