The Freedom Drive for Disabled People: European Network on Independent Living (ENIL)

At the start of October, Dorothy Gould travelled to Brussels to join in the Freedom Drive. Read Dorothy's report on the event.

The Freedom Drive is a bi-annual event designed to bring together disabled people from the whole of Europe in support of independent living and community involvement. The campaign is again based on Article 19 of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, UNCRPD and General Comment 5 about the Article.

It was exhilarating to be with people from so many countries in Europe, all wanting to achieve the same goal and all campaigning for it, despite major obstacles, including austerity issues similar to those facing us in the UK. It was encouraging as well to receive support from ENIL team members and delegates about the fact that independent living also means an end to substitute decision-making, sectioning and forced treatment, with the necessary resources in place to make that feasible. Some particular highlights of the Freedom Drive were:

  • A workshop in which we heard about governments’ responsibility to make full use of the UNCRPD in their implementation of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, (https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/). The SDGs are a blueprint, to which governments, including the UK government, have signed up. They are designed to achieve a better and more sustainable future for people across the world
  • A march to the European Parliament and dialogue with its members about the vital need for fully supported independent living and community inclusion which result in us having the same rights as any other citizens
  • Presentations from keynote speakers across Europe (including Simone Aspis and Tara Flood from the UK) about issues and needs across Europe and from Japanese delegates, too. Japan, in partnership with the USA, is also promoting a World Independent Living Network.

Dorothy Gould: [email protected]