Inclusion Europe president Jyrki Pinomaa wrote a letter about the Coronavirus emergency, expressing his concern about the situation but, at the same time, discussing how to keep in touch and stay focused on our priorities.
Dear members, friends and colleagues,
I hope you are all healthy.
We are living a very exceptional times and it seems that this will go on for many weeks onwards. The news we hear daily are depressing as the Coronavirus is spreading further and further and closing businesses, silencing the streets of our cities and locking us all into our homes or into “care institutions”. What is happening now around the whole world is something we all have trouble understanding and it challenges our governments to act in ways that have not been tried before.
We all have trouble understanding everything that is going on, but for people with intellectual disabilities it is even more challenging. In this difficult time, we tried to support them by producing and collecting a high number of resources about the Coronavirus in easy-to-read and in different languages. You can read more on a dedicated page on Inclusion Europe’s website.
My owns sons, Markus and Robin, have been in their own homes now for more than two weeks without any daily activities, without any of their regular therapies, without any possibilities for us or anybody else to visit them, without any possibilities for them to visit us, without their regular hobbies etc.
They have been able to go for short outings near the house where they live. We have tried to have contact with them through Facetime, but the quality was so poor; without the video the communication was very difficult.
Last Friday we managed to get Skype installed into their iPad and now we also have the video which helps a lot to communicate with them. This eases our distress a lot.
All the care/group homes in Finland have the same isolation policy which causes a lot of worry for the families. But on the other hand, our country also limits all kind of social contacts and the recommendation for everybody is to stay at home as much as possible.
Plans and cancellations
As you have heard, our Europe in Action conference had to be cancelled. We are now looking for possibilities to organize a series of webinars to be able to use some of the planned program of the conference. We will inform you as soon as we know more.
Our Board meeting and General Assembly which were also planned to take place during Europe in Action have been postponed and will be held when it will be possible. We will inform you when we know more.
Alarming situation in many countries
Unfortunately, the Coronavirus crisis created alarming situations in many countries.
Not only by closing people with intellectual disabilities inside the institutions or their own homes and leaving them in isolation from everything, but also by leaving many families without support.
Many organisations providing support to people with disabilities and families are also struggling for basic protective equipment, that would keep all those involved safe.
As the capacity of health care in connection with the pandemic seems to be insufficient in most of the countries there is also the question of priority in health care. I have heard some worrying news of situations where people with intellectual disabilities have been categorized as a group of people which would not get any intensive care at all. This kind of unacceptable discrimination has been called out by our members and many other people and organisations; equal value of all people must be the basis of any discussion.
This crisis has created a situation where nobody seems to know what to expect. We are all now restricted from living a normal life and we receive daily new guidelines from our governments. In this situation we simply have to do as told. The situation is new to everybody.
Again, we must be reminding governments and institutions that international conventions like the UN CRPD still apply and human rights have to be respected.
All Inclusion Europe staff are now working from their homes. I am in contact with the secretariat and we are planning together with other organisations ways to deal with this crisis and connecting with each other. We are currently planning a series of online meetings that will start this week and will keep happening regularly during the emergency. Read more info about the online meetings.
I am thinking of all members of Inclusion Europe and other organisations and individuals. I hope the current measures taken everywhere in Europe will work, and the pandemic will be soon under control.
I hope that you manage to keep yourselves and your families healthy.
Let’s keep in touch!