In the last weeks, we have been very busy on different topics which are among the key challenges for our sector. Service providers are undergoing profound changes and EASPD is trying to support them in establishing a dialogue with all relevant stakeholders, providing information on funding, legislative developments and listening to the concerns of those operating on the ground at grassroots level.
The Conference of States Parties to the CRPD is the annual gathering of countries that have ratified the Convention and of the organisations that are accredited to it. Every year, since its accreditation in 2014, EASPD attends the Conference in New York and presents the work we do in Europe on the provision of support in the disability field. This year the Council of Europe, the European Commission, the European Economic and Social Committee, Member States and the European Disability Forum joined us to discuss the reform of social services. We are glad for the opportunity to have an open dialogue with them to pave the way for future developments. Also this is part of the co-production approach we promote for the future of support.
A very important element when it comes to running services and provision of support is the financial context. Next to grants and subsidies, we believe loans can also contribute to unlock the much-needed long-term infrastructural needs and to meet the increase in the demand of support. For this reason we have developed a brand new website - www.socialinvestment.eu - to look at possibilities for getting loans for social services under the Juncker Plan.
The reform of social services is also part of the more general development of inclusive communities, where the development of new support systems and individualised person-centred planning is central. Often, we are asked to give inputs on how to realise in practice inclusion and ensure sustainability. We are preparing the ground for this with a dedicated Research Forum to open up the discussion with academics and we will try to answer these issues looking at practical models during EASPD’s next international conference, taking place in Podgorica (Montenegro) on the 26-27 October 2017.
Lastly, I am delighted to have been elected as one of the new Co-chairs of the European Expert Group on transition from institutional to community-based care (EEG). Together with the group we support the dialogue on inclusive living for all groups at risk of or in a context of exclusion and in need of support. I look forward to the year ahead to advance awareness on these issues and to further promote the expertise available in the group.
I also would like to take the opportunity to congratulate the Estonian Presidency for including in their programme a conference on community-based living on the 12-13 October 2017.