Dear colleagues, dear friends,
Summer has reached us here in Brussels and while football fever grips Europe, EASPD is reflecting on what we have achieved in the year so far. Under the guidance of our Strategy ‘Commit!’ EASPD has already enjoyed many successes. As this year’s half-time approaches, it's time to look back at the highlights.
For EASPD, 2018 started on a high, with the European Commission’s approval of our 4-year workplan. This approval will secure the continuation of EASPD’s activities over the next 4 years and our vision to deliver the support services of tomorrow. The Commission’s feedback, on our work and contribution to the social dimension of Europe, was very positive and we look forward to our future cooperation with the Commission to make our impact even greater.
Strategic Objective I: Representation
Never one to sit on the side-line, EASPD has continued to represent disability support service providers at a European and international level. At the Annual Convention on Inclusive Growth in April EASPD joined policy makers and other members of civil society to emphasise the importance of investing into the provision of high quality, community based, support and care services.
In May Fabrizio Fea, EASPD Vice President and Ingrid Pammer, Vice Chair of the Standing Committee on Employment, joined 300 professionals at the “Workability - Lead the Way” conference in Stockholm, to raise awareness for the role service providers play in the employment of people with disabilities.
Another highlight was EASPD’s attendance at the Conference of States Parties to the UN CRPD in New York. While attending the conference, EASPD Board member Evert-Jan Hoogerwerf represented EASPD at a side event on Assistive Technologies in which he explained how assistive technologies, through the context of support service provision, can contribute to enabling individuals’ independence and inclusion.
Here in Brussels EASPD has also been working hard to ensure that the future EU budget supports the inclusion and full participation of all its citizens. This year EASPD contributed to several consultations over the future Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and have made sure our voice was heard.
In particular the European Commission’s proposal for a new InvestEU Programme (the EU’s latest financial instrument to support investment) successfully incorporated all of the recommendations put forward by EASPD to help boost social investment.
Strategic Objective II: Innovation and Know-how
A vital objective of EASPD’s new Strategy is to play a leadership and convening role in the development of innovative support models for persons with disabilities. To do this, EASPD and the Centre for Planning and Evaluation of Social Services (ZPE) at the University of Siegen held the first EURECO Forum in March. The Forum brought together researchers and practitioners in disability services to discuss innovative research opportunities in the field of inclusive community development. Going forward the newly established platform, EURECO, will help to create research collaborations among researchers and practitioners.
EASPD has also continued its activities to share and scale-up innovative community-based support models. Most recently, we have been working in cooperation with partners in Hungary and the UNDP in FYROM to support the de-institutionalisation process across Europe.
Thanks to the hard work, collaboration and hospitality of our Bulgarian partners NASO (National Alliance for Social Responsibility), our Varna Conference on the Social Economy as an effective model for social inclusion was another of our greatest achievements of this year. It was a pleasure to welcome so many of you to Bulgaria to exchange innovative practices; discuss the role of support services in the growth of the social economy and support the creation of more inclusive labour markets. The discussions that were held in Varna provided the foundation for our next steps towards supporting a socially inclusive and effective social economy.
I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to our next conference, on Technology and digitalisation in the social care sector, which will be held in Barcelona on 4th-5th October. The conference will look at how technology and digital solutions impact the social care sector, as well as explore the impact of technology on education, employment and independent living.
Strategic Objective III: Members’ Led approach
Varna also played host to our first General Assembly of 2018, where we had the pleasure of welcoming 22 new members and observers to EASPD. We look forward to working alongside you and for you, as the key representative of support service providers for people with disabilities in Europe, inciting positive policy change at a local and European level and driving innovation in our sector.
We may have reached half-time but it is still all to play for in 2018 and EASPD will continue to build on what we have already achieved to make sure 2018 is a truly knockout year.