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United Response shines a beacon for community based living for people with disabilities in Central and Eastern Europe

United Response shines a beacon for community based living for people with disabilities in Central and Eastern Europe.

Last month, UK disability charity United Response took the stage in front of policy makers and third sector pioneers in Central and Eastern Europe, giving examples of how to support people with all levels of disability to live a full life in the community. The event was designed to inspire and empower policy makers and third sector organisations in the region to make the move from institutional to community based services in accordance with Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with a Disability.

John Ockenden, of United Response’s acclaimed practice development team, spoke to participants about the work the United Response has done to help the people they support live a fuller life.

“It was a fascinating and challenging event,” John said. “The countries all vary greatly, I learnt by talking to the attendees. For some the challenge is to develop community based services for those who currently live in institutions, for others the emphasis needs to be on supporting families to continue to support their relative whilst living at home. What is missing in many of these countries is support for people to live in individualised and person-centred settings in the community, and I was trying to show how that can be done, to the benefit of the person with a learning disability, their family and society as a whole.

“By the feedback, I think a lot of people went away with some great new ideas. They really do want to make lives better, and have the talent and skills to realise that ambition. They just needed a little bit more guidance on how to move forward. I was delighted to speak, and it will have been worth every second if it makes just one person go back to their country with new ideas and energy on how to improve their own social care.”

The programme was entitled - “Leading Change - From Institutional to Community based Services for People with Mental Disabilities” and was hosted by the Central European University in Budapest. Topics included creating a helpful policy context, designing high quality services, funding community based provision and lobbying.

United Response appeared at the request of Julie Beadle-Brown from the Tizard Centre, one of the world’s leading academic centres working in learning disability and community care. United Response has a long history of working closely with the Tizard Centre to provide cutting edge support in the UK: this programme offered a chance to take the message out into the wider world.

John discussed how to support people to gain employment, live in the community and access leisure activities – including those with both lower and higher support needs. He also discussed how to support people with high needs to live in their own homes. Using real stories, and some video, John ensured the presentation was both accessible to all those present, and had a human angle they could relate to.

Participants on the programme came from the following countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Croatia, Czech Republic, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Moldova, Slovakia Romania and Serbia.


For more information, please contact Sarah Bartlett or Jaime Gill in the United Response Press Office on 020 8246 5237/ 020 8246 5122 or email sarah.bartlett@unitedresponse.org.uk or jaime.gill@unitedresponse.org.uk

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