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Pep Solé, elected as a new EASPD Board member

Following its latest General Assembly in Varna, Bulgaria on 16th June EASPD would like to welcome Pep Solé i Chavero, Attorney and Director of “Fundació Tutelar de les Comarques Gironines,” to his new position as EASPD Board Member. Elected by the members of the General Assembly (GA) Mr Solé will join EASPD’s 19 other Board Members in their role to represent the EASPD membership and organisation. Upon his election Mr. Solé affirmed his commitment to working with all EASPD members to support the full implementation of the UNCRPD through the provision of high quality services.

Pep Solé’s career has, for a long time, been linked to social services and he has held several diverse responsibilities including: being the Territorial Director of the Catalan Ministry of Social Welfare in Girona and President of the the ENCAIX (Lace) association, which includes twelve Catalan NGO's that provide guardianship services. Currently, he is Deputy Mayor and Town Planning Councillor of Castell Platja d’Aro City Council. He is also the president of the Social Council of Institut Guttman, which includes all Catalan organisations representing the pysical and neurological disabilities, and is linked to different social entities from Girona. Pep Solé is often called as an external consultant for the management of social services, as a teacher and as a speaker in conferences and seminars related with law and the rights of persons with disabilities and the elderly. Nowadays, he is focusing on promoting the full implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities from Fundació Tutelar, an EASPD member organisation.
"El Roure", Catalan magazine especially addressed to elderly organisations, interviewed Pep Solé recently. Below you can find some interesting answers to find out more about the newest EASPD Board member, his organisation and his commitment to improving the lives of persons with disabilities and the elderly:

What is the objective of Fundació Tutelar?

Ensuring that nobody is deprived of defending their rights and interests regardless of their capacity, energy, intelligence or cognitive health. Therefore, no person with a disability or age that has lost their cognitive faculties is left without the necessary help to ensure their rights are properly defended.

In the 21st century, are human rights enough to protect the rights and wills of the elderly?

I think we still have a long way to go. In fact, there are organized elderly groups at European level defending the need for a more powerful human rights legal instrument in order to guarantee the right of the elderly. There is a treaty between the Ibero-American countries that specifies how the will of the people have to be respected in all long-term social and sanitary support processes, how everything related with the life of a person has to be respected, how their social participation has to be promoted, as well as the way to guarantee the minimum social resources to afford a life in the community with dignity. However, we don’t have this in Catalonia, Spain nor in Europe yet. From our foundation, we are in contact with international organisations that work on these issues and we would like to be the open door to these transformative ideas from the society to defend the rights of the elderlies.

Is this protection effective in Catalonia?

No. Nowadays, clearly not. There are too many people living according to other’s living criteria and too many people who have to live according to the functioning schemes of support and care organisations’ functioning rather than to their own ones. Deinstitutionalisation means that nobody should be forced to live in a life regime without choosing it. Even in a residence, where they tell you when to wake up, when to have breakfast, when to have lunch, when to go to bed… without space for participation. If that happens, they are violating your rights. It’s not the same to live with others and having to organise this convivence, that the fact of telling you “at 9 you’ll be on bed just because that suit us”. Being more aware of the rights we must defend is something worthy.

Can you tell us more about the “I Decide” European project in which your foundation is involved?

Alongside with other European partners, we’ve detected the big lacks, also in the capacities of professionals, in order to provide the support to persons’ wills. For this reason, we’ve started improving our capacity to train the professionals to help them carry out this task. This is the essence of the “I Decide” project. We need better professionals with wider knowledge so that the will of persons is the one ruling the support and care processes.

The project funding is limited, so we decided to focus in three blocks. The first one is the health care, the second one focuses on the consumer rights. Finally, the third one is the management of the personal budget.

What’s the state of play of the project?

We’ve just started. We have Finish, Greek, Belgian and English partners and we’ll work together during a couple of years to make it possible. This is an international collaboration that will produce guidelines that can be useful for professionals working on this around Europe. It’s a project funded with 200.000€ from the European Union.

Is there anything else you would like to highlight that we haven’t discussed so far?

The elderly need to have a more active role in society, but especially in the defence of their rights. And this will not happen if we are not aware of these rights, if other social segments and groups come to tell you what are your rights, they will not explain you everything, so it’s good to be aware of them. I would like more active elderlies to improve society, but also to defend their own rights. The shouldn’t wait the other to defend them for them instead.

Find the extended interview in Catalan here