Inclusion Europe has 80 members in 40 European countries, national and regional associations for people with intellectual disabilities and their families, including 19 self-advocacy organisations. Together with all these members, we are working to achieve equal rights for people with intellectual disabilities and their families throughout Europe. We represent more than 20 million people.
Since 2003 our main event has been the annual Europe in Action conference which brings together for three intensive days, hundreds of participants from all over Europe.
The first conference was held in Tallinn. Since then we have visited Europe from north to south and from east to west – Dublin, Prague, Brussels, Warsaw, Vienna, Tampere, Berlin, Larnaca, Brussels, Ljubljana, Belfast, Rome, Lisbon, Prague, Birmingham, Vilnius. There have been enthusiastic hosts among our members every year. Unfortunately, the conference planned for Vienna last year had to be cancelled because of the pandemic situation.
Mixture of local and international views
We organize the conference in close co-operation with our member, the national federation of the host country. This enables us to make visible the lives of people with intellectual disabilities and their families in that particular country, but at the same time brings us together to learn from each other. Together with our members, we form a significant voice for the equality of people with intellectual disabilities and their families throughout Europe.
During our first six conferences, the schedule was divided into separate programs for participants with intellectual disabilities and for other participants. The Europe in Action in Tampere in 2009 in co-operation with our Finnish member organizations Tukiliitto and FDUV set a new path. For the first time the same program was available to all participants. The separate programs were a thing of the past and extra attention had to be paid to the accessibility and plain language of the conference. Since then, this has been the leading principle in all our conferences.
60th anniversary for Inclusion Finland
Our member association Inclusion Finland KVTL (Tukiliitto) turns 60 years this year and as part of the celebration decided to host our 2021 conference. This conference was agreed to be held in Tampere in June long before we knew of the pandemic. Once again, it will act as a pioneer.
Because of the pandemic our conference will go online for the first time. We expect this to allow a larger number of people to attend the conference. We also see it as an opportunity to learn how to run online conferences. Perhaps in the coming years, we can arrange the conference by combining the possibility to participate online and to attend in person.
Lifelong friendships across borders
At the same time, of course, the new way of organizing challenges us in many ways. Particularly significant in our conferences have always been its more informal sections, coffee table and corridor discussions, as well as evening events and peer meetings related to all of these. The power of peer support has even broken language barriers and made lifelong friendships across borders. Now we may partly be missing these opportunities.
An online conference also makes it possible to meet and work in small groups and to divide the participants into different “rooms”. My own experiences of such are quite positive and I have also succeeded in making authentic new acquaintances. In all honesty however, they are not the same as what we are accustomed to experiencing by coming together. The longing for real face to face meetings remains.
The theme of Europe in Action conference from June 8th till 11th is SKILLS, in line with Inclusion Europe focus on employment this year:
- How to put to use the skills people with intellectual disabilities have.
- Employment and support for employment.
- Development of day services towards person-centered support to community inclusion.
The conference is an opportunity to hear examples and knowledge of the topic, latest trends and innovations in support for employment and inclusion.
Employment is the way towards equality and inclusion.
I am looking forward to seeing you at the Europe in Action 2021 conference!
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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