European Platform of Self-Advocates

Liza Kelly Advocacy Officer, Namhi.


The European Platform of Self-Advocates was held in Brussels this year.

These people represented Ireland—

Sean Ryan, Christina Burke, Josephine Flatherty and Liza Kelly were delegates from namhi.

Maura Chambers, Kathleen O’Leary, Donie Dillon, Karen Downes, Antonio Cebas McBride and Robert Hopkins went from the Brothers of Charity services in County Clare.

The name of the conference was ‘Empowerment, Together against Discrimination!’

The conference was organised by people with learning disabilities for people with learning disabilities.

There were a lot of workshops and presentations.

We all learned a lot about how things are done in other countries in Europe.

The workshops were about a lot of different things, like—

  • Accessible information on the Internet
  • The need to have a private life
  • Dance workshop
  • Drawing and Painting
  • The situation of self-advocacy in different countries
  • Education and employment
  • People with learning disabilities as strong consumers.

There was time at the end of the conference for everyone to talk and give their opinions.

People talked about what they had learned at the conference, about self-advocacy organisations and the fight against discrimination.

People also discussed what was good and bad about the conference and how it could be better next year.

Everybody sent two postcards to the European Parliament with a personal message about learning disability issues.

On Sunday night Inclusion Europe organised a dinner for everybody in a Mexican Restaurant. There was a great singsong afterwards with songs and dances from different countries.

It was a very good conference. It was a great opportunity to meet people with learning disabilities from other countries.

We learned a lot about how important it is to speak up and make sure management take your opinions seriously.

There are some photographs of us at the conference and some comments for you to read on the namhi website (


‘I took a great interest in the workshop on bullying, and I spoke up and said I don’t like to be called handicapped.’

‘People were well able to talk up for themselves.’(Kathleen)

I got my photograph taken for the website and got to know more about the Internet. I’m going to try and use it to write to the friends I made in Brussels.’

‘I was able to get on the buses and trains. I thought at first I wouldn’t be able but I discovered that it was possible. It meant a lot to me.’ (Maura)

‘I put on the headphones to listen to what people were saying. People were speaking about rights. I learned a lot.’

‘I went to the tourist office and got a map of the city, then I did some touring around.’ (Donie)