Yesterday, our members had the opportunity to take part in a discussion with the mayoral and local government candidates of Pécs, concerning their strategy for social provisions if they are elected.
The discussion was part of a series of events, organised in several cities around the country by Budapest TASZ (the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union). The organisations present were”Lépjünk, hogy léphessenek Egyesület”, “Önállóan lakni – közösségekben élni szervezet”, in Pécs People First Association also took part. Members of People First Association provided comprehensive information concerning the situation of people living with disabilities in the city.
Gergő Berkes a student of the University of Pécs, talked about studying, the invaluable role of the Support Service, and how – as a wheel-chair user – he would not be able to study without their help. He told those present that he is the occupant of the one and only barrier-free flat owned by the local government of Pécs. He said this has greatly enhanced his progress towards independent living, which he is hoping to start in the near future.
Szandra Hegedűs, mother of a person with a disablility, was talking about how she has been preparing her, now 26-year-old son, Krisztofer for living as independently as possible, and how they have created the circumstances for him to live ‘independently, yet not alone’, in his own flat.
Henriett Szekeres is a wheel chair user from birth, and she talked about institutional living, detailing its difficulties and its possibilities. Life is ok in “Malomvölgy nursing home”, the residents physical needs are met, however the staff are overworked. The nursing home is far too big, individuals get lost in the system, independence is impossible, individual rights are violated and residents often sink into apathy.
János Kővári (ÖPE, Association for Pécs), dr. András Szabó és dr. József Kóbor (LMP, Politics Can Be Different), és András Pap (independent ) took part in the event and they all gave information regarding their strategy for social provisions if they are elected. Many topics were touched on in the discussion: Pécs has relatively many facilities that provide care to help the development of children with disabilities; services provided should correspond with the needs of the parents – autonomy – Support Services; and the participation of university students as volunteers is vitally important.
János Kővári informed those present about a plan to create an independent living facility with 8-10 flats in Pécs, as part of desinstitutionalisation.
All speakers were of the oppinion that the cause of independent living must be supported. People should receive care and support according to their needs. In order to achieve this the local government needs a housing strategy, which does not exist at the moment. There is also the issue of barrier-free environment. The first step towards creating a barrier-free city, besides the practical solutions, is changing the mentality of people.
The candidates also expressed their intention to take an active part in the campaign to have home-based care recognised as a full time job.
All participants agreed that both the elderly and the disabled should be looked after by their family, but the families must be supported by the state.
All candidates welcomed the creation of a Disability Council by local civil activists and look forward to its establishment and future collaboration. According to János Kővári, in order to facilitate cooperation between the Disability Council and the local government, the appointment of a rapporteur will be neccessary, who will represent the Council before the local government.