The year of Corona! A summary of 2020

It feels more difficult to begin this report, due to coronavirus, which has messed with everything since March and caused problematic months for many of us. Still, it’s uplifting how even so the organization achieved a great deal of important tasks and took part in great experiences. Throughout this year an active group has been well forged. Our task for next year is to get more people taking part actively, finding their responsibilities which they could enjoy in the organization. Even with smaller steps for the group, but with giant leaps for mankind. 🙂

Let’s see what we have accomplished through the year of Corona?

In January all things were still bright, there may have even been a little snow, who knows yet? Anyway, we felt strongly how we love to go hiking. Here in Pécs we have loads of trails and we think it’s an excellent way to include more and more people. This is why our database Barrier-free Pécs now includes the possibility to discover barrer-free hiking trails. Take a look at all we’ve found so far: http://peoplefirst.hu/en/akadalymentes-pecs/ 

We are always pleased when we can sensitize younger people, because if they get to know and accept the difference, we have a winning case in the future. Our entry into the Esély-Híd university course is due to our member Molnár Gyöngyi and it was a pleasure for us. We have also worked with the community organizers of the Department of Cultural Studies, giving a great experience for many of us. Some students from Leőwey Klára High School worked for us as part of their mandatory 50 hour community service. Thanks to them, the Barrier-Free Pécs posters can be seen all over the city, they were the ones who put them out there. We didn’t let go of our older high school members either, we still get a lot of help from them, so we nominated them for the Volunteer of the Year award. Although they did not receive an award, Szekeres Heni won the special prize of the Volunteer of the Year “Helping volunteers” (for helpers working in the field of opportunity creation and / or volunteers with disabilities) this year!

It is still very important for us that the local civil-organizations work together, uniting their strengths and knowledge. We had several opportunities for this this year, such as attending the “Neighborhood Academy” meetings of the Pécs Community Foundation, discussions at “Chance team” tea parties organized by the CSEÖH, and discussing the local civil concept at the House of Civil Communities in July with Kunszt Márta, a civil society adviser. The two-year review of the Local Equal Opportunities Program (HEP) became topical this year. We received a request from City Hall for our association to coordinate the 16 excellent organizations that have been involved in the updating of this, with really great ideas. 

The revision of the HEP can be read here (in Hungarian): https://gov.pecs.hu/staticPage/index/strat_dokumentumok.php 

In January we also took part in an excellent tour guide training with the specialists of Tourinform, where we prepared for our barrier-free downtown tour “Hidden City”, so that we could lead those interested in a professional way (http://peoplefirst.hu/en/projects/rejtett-varos-tor-tour-a/ ). Back then, we thought we could start this tour as a permanent tourist offer this year, but then Covid came and tourism disappeared from the scene. Next year! 🙂

On the other hand, we won the ECK project with our partner organizations, the aim of which was the organization of the IV.  Barrier-free Tourism Day, and we attended its opening event in January. In June, a 5-day residential workshop was held in Orfű, the main aim was to be able to actively involve as many affected people as possible in the organization. In this way, we can adapt the festival as much as possible to the needs of people with disabilities. Did we succeed? You decide, who participated! You can also read about the Barrier-Free Tourism Day on a separate website, here:https://akadalymentesnap.hu/?lang=en 

And the event, as every year, took place in early September. We were excited throughout the year to see if it could be, yes, no, yet not, maybe, as Covid had a strong impact on that as well. This time we took on an active role in the organizing committee, including our secretary Berkes Gergő, Almádi Evelin, Biobia, Szabó Zsuzsa, Pataki Veronika, but Kerekes Hilda,Vida Ágota and others also helped a lot. It can be said that despite the threat of this year’s epidemic, they made this very successful event really innovative and exciting!

We’ll let you in on a secret, our german guests like the Barrier-free Tourism Day so much, that they’d like to organize a similar event next year – if we help them.

Moreover, due to our Peer-AcT international barrier-free tourism project, we participated in the organization of an international conference connected to the festival in September. This included a Hidden City tour for our german guests, which they also liked so much, that they’d like to try organizing a similar event back in Germany.

New members also came to join us to our great joy, as we were able to expand with more creative people Annamária, Dani, Evelin, Hilda, Ricsi, Zsuzsa and two Zolis also. We are happy to have you with us!!

Marketing. Many people still don’t understand why we do it, but we believe that our goal of making what we do visible, traceable, understandable should make sense for as many people as possible. Surely we make statements, give lectures, talk, persuade, campaign, build relationships … to reach a goal. You could hear us, you could read about us here and there and we will continue to share in the future. And also do all this in English, since we have many dear foreign partners, followers. We want you to always be with us in what we do, and even if only remotely, but you can participate in it.

In April, Vida Ágota and Molnár Gyöngyi took part in a 5-day English-language training in Germany, where they performed so well that we were able to hold peer-counselor training on accessibility for 10 other members in July and August. In the future, if there will be tourism again, they will be able to work as peer-counselors in this field in a number of ways. The association will also help them get started.

The first crash, the first wave of Covid, struck in March. 🙁

Still, with our german partner we’ve developed a project that was submitted to the German tender Aktion Mensch. If we win, next year we will create a community space where we support independent living in a variety of ways. Wish us luck!

Our “sticker-team” was able to work within the framework of the FOF2019 project this year and to develop our Barrier-Free Pécs database more and more professionally. We worked at the beginning of the year, then in the summer and even in the fall at full steam. Oláh Balázs’s web work can still only be praised, just as the current team works professionally! It is also worth knowing who they are, who discover the barrier-free locations of Pécs, coordinate, discuss up to ten times, go back many times, take photos, describe, tirelessly and enthusiastically. The team: Makay Péter, Oláh Balázs, Balogh Roland, Szekeres Henriett, Almádi Evelin, Hegedűs Szandra, Koltai Krisztina, Pataki Veronika. 

The support from FOF2019 expired in August, we did not win the FOF2020. Here came the big question: how to proceed? The Barrier-free Pécs database doesn’t worth much without updates and expansions. We came up with another solution, which was when The Community Foundation of Pécs provided us with the biggest experience and success of this year through its community fundraising eveningLive Broadcasting”. At the online event in December, the people of Pécs raised more than 1 million Forints to support the continuation of the database and the organization of a conference to discuss good practices! It was an indescribable experience to experience this event, teamwork, helpfulness, community power!

We have written many applications, it is expected that not all of them have won. However, one of the non-winners was of paramount importance to us. It was the opportunity for us to participate in the Access City Award international application, for which the City Hall asked us. Berkes Gergő and Pataki Veronika wrote several chapters of this tender, which were of outstanding importance for the accessibility of Pécs. Yes we are sorry that it did not win, but next time!

The Covid epidemic dealt the greatest blow to our peers in the institutions, who are forced to live in complete isolation during the first and then the second Covid-wave. Since it is neither humanly nor socially legal and fair, we have raised our voice against this and turned to the Ombudsman in July. Our request is only to give guidance to the leaders and maintainers of the institutions on how to behave and what solutions to apply in similar crisis situations. We know that the Ombudsman’s mills are grinding slowly, but it also surprises us that our petition in July was not answered by December. We were therefore forced to turn to both the head of the institution and the maintainer, offering our free help and ideas – but we received a nasty, incomprehensible rejection. However, it is here that the principles of “nothing about us without us” and “people with disabilities are the best knowers and representatives of their own affairs”, on which we continue to help our fellow institutions.

Of course, this year as well we had fun when we could, we met up, we had coffee, we went to concerts, we went on trips, we did video flashmobing with great mood and we wrote reviews, we did legal, tax, financial affairs with less mood… ..life continued the same when it could. Unfortunately, we were not able to meet up in person most of the time because of the virus, which we did not like. We tried to keep in touch at Zoom, but there is a lack of personal meetups, having coffees, hikes outside… 

We will make it up to ten times next year 🙂

Perseverance for all and let us keep together in our hearts.

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