ESN Working Group on Disability

The ESN’s Working Group on Disability was launched in May 2014. The group aims to increase the capacity of public authorities to plan and manage services for people with disabilities in a sustainable and person-centred manner, and to promote independent living and free choice and control for users.

The group brings together ESN members who are directors of social services and applied researchers. Alongside core members, who will attend each of the five meetings taking place between 2014 and 2016, thematic contributors and external experts are invited to participate in selected thematic meetings, based on their expertise in the field covered by each meeting. A strong focus will be put on the practical implementation of services through the systematic gathering of practices related to each meeting’s topics.

  1. The first meeting (Brighton, 4-5 December 2014) was the opportunity to look at initiatives promoting independent living at local and European levels. A number of practices, from Denmark to Ireland, reviewed policy and practice and highlighted issues such as the role of local authorities in implementing services, service user involvement and the quality of services, which will be explored in future meetings. 
  2. The second meeting (Brighton, 12-13 March 2015) focused on the integration of services for people with disabilities, and how various services, sectors and levels collaborate to meet users’ needs in the best possible way. See our short video featuring members from Denmark, England, Ireland and Spain.
  3. The third meeting (Vilnius, 19 November 2015) looked at how social services and the public sector can help people with disabilities to enter and remain in the labour market by offering tailored, coordinated and gradual support, thus contributing to their full inclusion into society and their local communities. As the meeting took place in Lithuania, we learned about reforms and measures in the Baltic countries as well as policy, legislative background and practices in the 12 different countries of the ESN members participating in the group discussions. A report analysing 12 practices submitted by members was analysed by an independent researcher, Dr Sarah Carr. You can read more about the working group also in French, German, Italian and Spanish.
  4. The fourth meeting (Sofia, 5 April 2016) saw three service users and around 12 ESN members engage in presentations and discussions around the topic of service user involvement in designing, evaluating and even running services. In recent years, users have increasingly been put at the core of policy and practice developments through such mechanisms as peer support and co-production. For services, user involvement generally means improved quality and reliance. For users, this is an important, if not indispensable component of independent living and free choice and control.
  5. The final meeting (Brighton, 11-12 October 2016) focused on the quality and evaluation of social services for people with disabilities. On the second day, a joint session of both working groups discussed the interactions of disability and ageing, and their implications for the planning and delivery of social services and support.

ESN members can access all information, resources and documents related to each meeting on the respective pages of the Members' Area.

If you wish to find out more about the project, please contact ESN Policy Officer Marianne Doyen.