Hello, my name is Paul Alford and I am reporting to you following my trip in the spring to Brussels where I attended the Europe in Action 2006 conference entitled ‘Learning all our Lives’.
As a member of the Union on the Hill Self-Advocacy Group here in Dublin, I was nominated by the group to represent the Union at the annual meeting of the European Platform for Self Advocates (EPSA) which took place during the Europe in Action conference.
Earlier in the year, the Union on the Hill became members of EPSA. (You may remember a previous article I wrote for Frontline outlining who EPSA are and what they do.)
At the EPSA meeting there was an election for the President of EPSA, as the past President; Ulla Topi was stepping down from her post-
There was also an election for members of the board of EPSA. As a representative of the Union on the Hill I was nominated to run for both the Presidency and board of EPSA. Unfortunately, I was not elected President, but I was voted onto the board of EPSA.
I was very happy with the result. Following my election, I attended my first board meeting of Inclusion Europe as a representative of the board of EPSA. It was very interesting and I look forward to future meetings working on behalf of EPSA and representing self-advocates at a European level.
I found the conference overall very interesting with a lot of useful information. I was particularly interested in the presentation on independent work, living and leisure for people with an intellectual disability.
However, I did find the opening ceremony on the first day of the conference far too long. I have recommended that they shorten the opening ceremony for next year, as it is difficult for people of any ability to concentrate for such a long period of time.
Over the coming two years, I aim to represent EPSA and people with intellectual disability to the best of my ability at both a European and International level. And who knows, in two years time, I might even be President of the European Platform of Self Advocates!!!