Saturday 20 April 2019 | 04:03

A program to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities was designed in Stolin

10.01.2019  |  Society   |  Yauheniya Burshtyn,  
A program to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities was designed in Stolin Photo of the Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The regional center has become the second city in Belarus where the local plan for the implementation of the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was signed.

The beginning of a long work

The campaign "Agenda 50" designed to facilitate the implementation of the Convention principles on the ground, is coming to an end in Stolin. Its outcome has become the creation of a document that takes into account all the peculiarities of the region and thus helps the local community to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities. Though, as noted by the representative of the Danish non-profit organization "European House" Leni Peterson, this is only the beginning of a long work.

The way of creation of the local agenda, what has been achieved and what remains to be done - all these issues were discussed by the campaign participants in the course of the round table in Stolin.

Leni Peterson recalled that the campaign "Agenda 50" had started in Belarus three years ago (back then, the Centre for European Transformation conducted a study that reflected the willingness of Belarusian cities to implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and five pilot cities were chosen for the local agendas’ implementation).

"In Denmark, all local municipalities have their own agendas developed which considerably differ from each other. Changes are constantly being introduced into them. And I hope that you will do it, too, when you’ll feel the necessity. This is just the beginning of a long work", said Leni Peterson.

She congratulated the participants of the campaign with the local agenda creation and noted their success in mini-projects that they were implementing in parallel: they wrote a guide to Stolin and to the area for people with disabilities.

Photo of the Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

At least one completely accessible place

Initially, the local agenda developers had identified three main problems in the Stolin area: inaccessibility of the environment, lack of the possibilities for independent living and insufficient qualification of social workers.

According to Mikhail Skrebeyko, local coordinator of the campaign "Agenda 50" in Stolin, the designed document provides a number of changes that will make the city more accessible. First of all, the changes will affect the central intersection, and a local bar "Olympus" will also become accessible.

"We will try to do at least one completely accessible place in the city", promised Mikhail Skrebeyko.

The work on the staff development will also continue for the personnel working with people with disabilities, and the issue of independent living will be addressed.

"Our goal is to create working places in the village of Luka, and then to invite people here so that they know they could live and work there. We also have workshops in the city where vocational adaptation is conducted", said the coordinator.

It is planned that people with neuropsychiatric diagnoses will work there, and this will contribute to preventing the deprivation of legal capacity.

Photo of the Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The chief of the Administration of Labour, Employment and Social Protection of the Stolin District Executive Committee Galina Voropaeva has long been engaged in a barrier-free environment program in Stolin area.

"I like that there are public organizations in Stolin which do not only realize the problem, but also want to deal with it, and they have become our partners. The state is ready to meet the wishes and demands, but also the public organizations need to understand that it is them who have something to do in the first place. And people with disabilities do need to understand that they have to do something by themselves, not only waiting to have everything done for them", summarized Galina Voropaeva.

In the development of the local agenda organizations such as the "Support center for young people with disabilities", Belarusian Society of Visually Impaired Persons (BelTIZ), Belarusian association of assistance to children and young people with disabilities (BelAPDIiMI), Republican Association of Wheelchair Users (RAIK) and Stolin Territorial Center of Social Service and Administration on Labour, Employment and Social Protection of the Stolin District Executive Committee are involved. Trainers from the partner organization of the project – the Polish TUS Foundation – Peter Todys and Malgożata Peretyatkovich were inspiring and motivating others. They conducted strategic planning sessions with participants teaching to formulate goals and objectives by focusing on local issues and resources.

In addition to strategic planning sessions, the city residents, along with other cities’ representatives participating in the program "Agenda 50", had a chance to have a look at the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Poland and in Denmark.

Photo of the Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Gentlemen agreement

"In Belarus, it’s a tradition to draw big generic plans first, not trying to take into account the unique experience of each region. We started preparation of local plans in the hope that by the end of this work the signing of the Convention would be just in time. But the reality surpassed our expectations: in 2016 the Convention was ratified", said director of the Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Siarhei Drazdouski.

Photo of the Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Siarhei Drazdouski emphasized that every region has its own specific local agenda. General is only the structure, but the peculiarities and the understanding of the problems is unique.

According to him, it is exactly in Stolin that there was a prototype of the local committee on disability issues at the start of the campaign. Therefore, one of the agenda’s objectives was the creation of conditions for the work of the committee and establishing a dialogue between the state and the local community.

Deputy director of the Office and the general coordinator of the campaign "Agenda 50" in Belarus Mikhail Matskevich believes that in case such committees are established, the action plan is already designed for them.

"Thanks to the European Union. We will disseminate the experience throughout Belarus, on the preparation of agendas with the participation of authorities and public organizations", he promised.

Along with Ščučyn, Babruysk, Valożyn and Stoubcy (which, though being the last one to join the campaign, signed the action plan the first), Stolin walked through the difficult path of creating a local agenda, the total of which has become a "living" document that can be changed and supplemented depending on the situation.

"The signing of the local agenda is a kind of a gentlemen agreement, thus we promise each other that we will fulfill it", concluded Mikhail Matskevich.

Photo of the Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

***

The material was prepared in the framework of the international project "Rights of People with Disabilities: agenda for Belarus (Agenda 50)".

The campaign "Agenda 50" is being implemented with the support of the European Union in partnership with the Fundacja TUS (Poland)and the PA "European House" (Denmark)Office for the Rights of People with DisabilitiesInternational Consortium "EuroBelarus" and Center for European Transformation participate in the campaign implementation in Belarus.

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