Following a successful campaign for ‘Independent Living NOW!’ Disability Wales is currently working with the Welsh Government to develop a Framework for Action on Independent Living.
The campaign, launched in April 2010, called for a National Strategy on Independent Living. DW raised a petition on the National Assembly’s website in support of this and gathered over 700 signatures. The Petitions Committee asked the Welsh Government for a response and then gave DW an opportunity to submit further written evidence. This included the Manifesto for Independent Living, which highlights disabled people’s six priorities for action.
In October 2011 Jane Hutt AM, the Minister for Finance and Leader of the House (whose portfolio includes Equalities) informed the Petitions Committee that the Welsh Government will develop a Framework for Action on Independent Living. The Minister announced this publically at DW’s AGM in Newport on 19 October 2011.
The campaign also called upon the Welsh Government to:
• investigate how the priorities set out in the Manifesto can be addressed
• bring together relevant parties and stakeholders, including Disabled People’s Organisations
• set out its expectations, and
• call parties to account on delivery.
The Welsh Government moved quickly to appoint a senior official, Carys Evans, to lead its ‘Independent Living Project’. Following a round table meeting of national disability organisations on 1 December 2011, and meetings with several local disabled people’s organisations, six working groups have been established to take the project forward. These are based on the "calls to action" outlined in the Manifesto and will cover:
· Information, advice & advocacy
· Accessible & supported housing
· Person centred technology (aids & equipment)
· Access to the built environment
A further Manifesto priority on personalised care and support is being taken forward by another Welsh Government working group. A policy paper on Citizen Directed Support will be published in the spring, as part of a consultation on the Welsh Government’s new Social Care Bill.
The Framework for Action on Independent Living is scheduled for publication in the summer of 2012. DW is working proactively with national disability organisations and local disabled people’s groups to ensure that the Framework reflects disabled people’s highest priorities for action.
DW is delighted that the Welsh Government listened to its campaign demands and responded so positively. The Framework will not, in itself, make Independent Living a reality for disabled people in Wales. Implementation of the Framework will require close collaboration with a wide range of public bodies, service providers and the wider community over a number of years. But it is certainly an important step towards realising the goal of Independent Living NOW!
Independent Living enables us as disabled people to achieve our own goals and live our own lives in the way that we choose for ourselves.
Independent Living offers practical solutions for removing the barriers to equality and social inclusion that disable us, including in health & social care, housing, education, employment, transport and access to the environment.
Independent Living is an idea that helps us to understand the problems that we face as disabled people in our everyday lives. It gives us a structure for tackling the many different issues that prevent us from having the same choices, opportunities, access and control of our lives that non-disabled people have. It shows what needs to be done to enable us to be valued and treated with the same respect as other people.
The Social Model of Disability reminds us that we are disabled by the social, environmental, institutional and attitudinal barriers that prevent us from being able to fully participate in society on an equal basis. Independent Living builds on this by providing practical solutions for removing the barriers of disablism.