Áiseanna Tacaíochta Seeks Voluntary Human Rights Ambassadors

Seo é mo glaoch

Martin Naughton here, and I would like to share my story with you about independent living, and indeed the story of many people with disabilities throughout Ireland.

I became familiar with the philosophy of independent living after spending a lot of time travelling in the US, documenting the impact of the Disabilities Act on Americans with disabilities. During my travels I was fortunate enough to work with and learn from many influential people including the father of Independent Living, the late Ed Roberts. After my travels I returned to Ireland with a mission to spread the word about Independent Living, and to support people with disabilities to become empowered to lead independent lives.

Personal Assistance (PA) services fulfil a vital role in independent living, in that they are a means to facilitate individual choice. You can find out more about Independent Living and PA services by clicking on this link:

http://www.dublincil.org/what-is-independent-living.asp

PA services are pivotal not only to my life, but to the lives of so many people with disabilities. Áiseanna Tacaíochta was founded to continue the work of empowering people with disabilities to lead independent lives. We are a user led organisation who believe that every person with a disability should have a choice about the way their services are provided, and the right to ensure that the services they do receive are uniquely personal to their individuality. Our objective is that every Leader has complete control over their service.

Áiseanna Tacaíochta aims to support people with disabilities to transition from dependency on disability service providers to managing their own personal budgets and Personal Assistant Services. This transition allows Leaders (as many of my friends and colleagues in Áiseanna Tacaíochta will tell you) to regain control, flexibility and independence, which allows us to live lives of our own choosing – to not only participate in society but engage in exciting ways that may have seemed unobtainable before.

You can find out more information about Áiseanna Tacaíochta here, and read some of the inspirational stories from some of our members:

http://theatnetwork.com/

However, in our own search for independence, for civil and social engagement, we cannot forget that there are many people with disabilities for whom independence remains a distant dream. We must remember that now at this very moment in Ireland there are over 4,000 people living in institutions. We must remember that for those not living in institutions there are many more receiving institutionalised “care”, for whom independence and choice is also a distant reality. We at Áiseanna Tacaíochta do not want independence and choice to be the reserve of the lucky few. We want people with disabilities, with PA services readily available to them, taking control of their lives and choices to become a reality for the here and now, and for the future to come.

In order to achieve this goal I am seeking to recruit a number of voluntary “Human Rights Ambassadors”. The role of a volunteer Human Rights Ambassador for Áiseanna Tacaíochta involves two central things. First of all we would ask you to speak about the facts, the inconvenient truth that many people with disabilities in Ireland continue to be institutionalised, which is handsomely paid for by the state (our taxes) to this very day. To spread the word about PA services, how they fulfil the essential right to an independent life and free people from having to rely on outdated modes of care that serve only to incapacitate people with disabilities throughout Ireland.

The other important role of ÁT Human Rights Ambassadors is fundraising. In order to continue supporting people to free themselves from institutional living, as an organisation we need the support of motivated individuals and of course capital. We would ask each of our Human Rights Ambassadors to engage in fundraising for Áiseanna Tacaíochta. Fundraising efforts could be carried out across a range of activities, for example getting a team together to run the Flora Ladies Mini-Marathon, holding a coffee morning, or for the adventurous a sponsored skydive! We would welcome new and innovative fundraising ideas and would encourage all of our Human Rights Ambassadors to share with us their unique ideas and perspectives. We will be happy to support you in your role, for example through any documents and information you may require.

If you would like to support Áiseanna Tacaíochta by volunteering with us as a Human Rights Ambassador we would be delighted to hear from you, and look forward to embarking on this exciting next step in the journey.