ILMI eBulletin Christmas 2021

Merry Christmas from your ILMI team. Remember if you want more information on any of our projects or activities just contact us at info@ilmi.ie. 
Content:

IMAGE: cartoon showing residents of a care home visiting Santa with the text ‘Happy Days Care Home Santa Visit. Dear Santa, all we want for Christmas is equality, independence and the right to represent ourselves as disabled people. Santa: my advisors here think you might enjoy a day trip to the zoo instead’. 2 minutes later. ‘Resident: it is time for Plan B. What was that again? We’re going to raise an ILMI army and storm the North Pole!’
Credit to Johnny Connaughton for image design.
Message from our Chairperson

I have been given this space to wish all of you, members and staff of ILMI a most happy Christmas and a safe passage into 2022. This year now ending, is leaving us, like last year, with the same sense of time and personal opportunities stolen or lost due to the persistence of Covid19 which endures and transforms as it leaves us, becoming an endemic virus with which we must go beyond surviving to live more freely again in 2022 and beyond. I hope you will also take many happy and positives memories out of the year ending from the contact with and due to the work of our staff.

I feel that we have grown closer, this year as an ILMI family of members. We have taken time to learn from one another’s experience in 2021 as we will always do when sharing experiences of living with disability. We were offered up a fine fare of zoom opportunities to engage on a growing range of topics, subjects, learning and entertainment by ILMI and Onside staff whom I want to thank on your and my own behalf. We reflected but also laid down pathways into our rights-based future guided by the various articles of the UNCRPD which our CEO, Damien, embodied for and with us into policies which were distributed systematically and widely.

I want also to thank my co-directors, without whose advice, assistance and support I could not have discharged my humble duties as chair which I see as a role of encouraging others to believe in one’s self and to grow while combining the strength of individuals into that collective force for change which is ILMI.

Des Kenny, ILMI Chairperson
2021 Reflection from our CEO

It hardly seems possible, but it is time to reflect on 2021 and all of the work that ILMI as a collective has achieved. Year on year, ILMI as a cross-impairment DPO continues to grow and grow and that is testament to the principles of community development which drive our work: Collectivity; Participation, Community Empowerment; Social Justice and Sustainable Development; Human Rights, Equality and Anti-discrimination. Putting those principles into action has meant that we continue to have disabled people actively involved in all aspects of and leading our work over the course of 2021 and beyond.

As an organisation we have much to be proud of. Each year, writing this end of year review gets more and more difficult. We have done some genuinely incredible work as everyone will know from our weekly mail shots. Picking highlights from 2021 and at the same time trying to be concise is a challenge, but bear with me as I try to remind us all of some of our significant successes as a Movement this year.

Our INTERREG funded ONSIDE project, led by Programme Co-ordinator Peter Kearns, has reached its half-way stage at the end of 2021. By the end of the year, ILMI ONSIDE staff will have supported the involvement of just over 500 disabled people across Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan, Monaghan and Louth. Disabled people on ONSIDE are involved in social inclusion and digital skills training and supported into mainstream training, education and social inclusion spaces in their locality as well as being supported into other ILMI peer, policy and social spaces. ONSIDE staff are leading the exciting development of local DPOs supported by ILMI in Donegal, Leitrim and Louth and over the course of 2022, Cavan and Monaghan. ONSIDE also created the first ever Youth Camp for young disabled people, which was held over two weeks in the summer. Our ONSIDE staff are continuing to break new ground delivering social-model disability equality training to NUIM, ETBs and to community groups.

Funding secured towards the end of 2020 allowed us to run a number of new, innovative projects this year. At the start of January, our innovative online activism programme Strategies for Change began. Co-ordinated by Fiona Weldon this programme worked with 15 emerging disabled activists over the course of 2021, finishing on Tuesday 14th December. It has been a huge success and the participants involved will take on key roles to drive the work of ILMI in the future. We are looking forward to recognising their achievements early in 2022 and also to the beginning of Strategies for Change 2.

In April we started our Creating Raised Expectations and Aspirations Towards Employment (CREATE) project. Funded by Pobal, CREATE works with disabled people to develop their confidence and skills that supports them to start or progress on their employment pathway. Led by Patrick Flanagan, CREATE coordinator, with support from CREATE life coach Eileen Daly, ILMI developed online group coaching, employment skills workshops and peer mentoring to support disabled people to explore employment and training options and this will continue in 2022.

The ONSIDE process of supporting local DPOs will be central to the Department of Rural and Community Development Virtual Online Inclusive Communities for Empowerment (VOICE) project. VOICE will begin in January 2022 and will work with disabled people in counties Cork, Kerry, Tipperary, Carlow, Kilkenny, Waterford and Wexford. It is a welcome development that will allow us to build a stronger movement.

We continued to offer online spaces for training, consultation and peer spaces. The ILMI Women’s Group continued over 2021 as did our innovative Youth Space. We were also proud to support the ever-talented artist Isolde ÓBrolcháin Carmody, in rolling out a ‘Web Spinning’ Online Writers’ Group.

Our peer spaces continued to inform consultations within ILMI, including our CRPD consultation process. The resulting submission document is one that we can be especially proud of in its scope and detail. Our consultations led to: a submission on the review of the Mental Health Act; a submission on the Student Grant Scheme; an overview of the Disability Capacity Review; and a review of the Equality Legislation. We also published our IHREC funded project with South Dublin County Council Making Inclusion a Reality and our joint Housing campaign document with Inclusion Ireland “Our Housing Rights.

Our experiences from 2020 in managing online spaces meant that in 2021 we could expand and evolve our approaches to build a sense of community within the Movement. We were lucky to have guest speakers for social events such as Adam Pearson, Richard Butchins, Neven Maguire, Phil Friend and the powerhouse that is Judy Heumann. On March 8th as part of International Women’s Day, ILMI held our first online IWD event with Nina Tame, Izzy Keane, Mary Collins and Sarah Fitzgerald. Later that month we were joined by Jo Watson and Dr James Davies from A Disorder for Everyone (AD4E) to critically challenge the medicalisation of emotional distress and pain, which is very part of our social-model analysis of disability. In May we held our first “Everything You Wanted to Know about Disability but were afraid to ask” where Peter Kearns acted as MC to interview Maggie Cameron and a panel of Des Kenny, Selina Bonnie and Amy Hassett to explore the role of DPOs and the social model of disability. This was a huge event open to non-disabled people with over 500 people attending this webinar. One of the most energising events we created in 2021 was CEOL21, an online music festival featuring James McCrory, Louis Younge and band, Hubert McCormack, Robbie Sinnott, Davey Cashin and the Kilkennys, Emilie Conway, Glen Hansard, Tolü Makay, Mundy and John Kelly. All of these events are recorded and available on our ever-expanding ILMI Youtube Channel, which we will continue to add to in 2022.

During 2021 ILMI was also proud to participate in the Assisted Human Reproduction coalition, the Irish Network Against Racism, Community Platform, Add the 10th Alliance, European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN) Ireland, Community Work Ireland, the Coalition Against Hate Crime and the National Women’s Council.

I want to use this opportunity to recognise to thank everyone who has participated and contributed to the work of the organisation at every level in 2021. I especially want to acknowledge the huge amount of work that the Board of Directors has put in over the course of this year.

On a personal level, I want to recognise the support and guidance that Des Kenny gives as chairperson of ILMI. I also want to recognise the work of Selina Bonnie (Vice Chair), Jacqui Brown (Secretary), Gordon Ryan (Treasurer), Brian Dalton, Ann Marie Flanagan, Seònaid Ó Murchadha, Sinead Murtagh, Aoife McNicholl, Dr John Roche, as well as recognising the contributions of our Sarah Fitzgerald and Audrey Brodigan who stepped down from the board over the after the AGM in September.

We are extremely fortunate to have such skilled, creative and committed staff members that bring so much to the organisation. I want to acknowledge the work of the staff team: Orla Beirne, Fiona Brennan, Susan O’Brien, Nina Byrne, Dr James Casey, James Cawley, Angela Coleman, Patrick Flanagan, Shelly Gaynor, Edel McGinley, Peter Kearns, Claire Kenny, Clive Lowry, Mark McCollum, Fiona Weldon and Audrey Wilson. As CEO I want to thank them all for their dedication, expertise and passion they bring to their roles and their work as a team. I want to thank Niamh Cummins from Mohill Community College and Linda McCourt NUI Maynooth who joined ILMI on placement as part of their education in 2021 and will continue to do so into 2022.

During 2021 we also sadly lost our ILMI member James Brosnan, who passed away in November. James was a proud and active member of ILMI and a key part of the national Independent Living movement. We express our deep gratitude to James for all he brought to the Movement and our sincere sympathy to his family and friends on his loss.

And finally, I want to acknowledge the huge contribution made by disabled people who have been involved in the work of ILMI in so many different ways. Despite the challenges we have collectively faced, ILMI has become a stronger DPO that has connected disabled people across Ireland. We have embraced technology as a means to bring people together, to grow together, to discuss and analyse and campaign for inclusion as a vibrant, grassroots-led Movement.

On behalf of all the board and staff of ILMI, I wish you a merry Christmas and look forward to working with you all in the New Year.

A Policy Review

Its been another very busy year online and once again we raised the bar in ensuring the voice of disabled people is clearly heard at every level of policy development. Through this reflection we look at some of the main areas of policy development in 2021.


IMAGE: collage of screenshots from some of the ILMI zooms during the year.
UNCRPD Consultations
Earlier this year ILMI led a series of ten consultation spaces based on the draft UN report. These consultation spaces connected hundreds of disabled people in the areas of Housing, Independent Living supports, Transport, Education, Employment, Accessibility, family life, issues that impact young disabled people and disabled women and girls. Through these consultation sessions a Submission was compiled for the Department to ensure the voice of lived experience was brought to the fore.
IMAGE: screenshot of the promo leaflet for the UNCRPD consultations.

Representation 
As a National Disabled Person’s Organisation (DPO) ILMI is always working to build representation of disabled people on decision-making structures that impact upon our lives. Our Community Platform groups in Longford and Offaly continued to capitalise on their work over the previous twelve months. In March, based on consultation with both the Community Platforms and our wider members it was identified that there needed to be support put in place to build disabled people’s capacity when joining decision making structures such as Housing Disability Steering Groups (HDSGs).

IMAGE: screenshot of one of the Housing Network zooms.

As a result ILMI developed the ILMI Housing Network. Its aim was to see disabled people join their local housing disability steering group (HDSG) and represent ILMI bringing a collective, authentic voice to these local structures. Through research ILMI conducted in early 2019, under the National Housing Strategy for disabled people it was unclear at that time if people of lived experience were being represented on these HDSGs. Since then ILMI welcomed the call for lived experience on these decision making structures and ILMI was delighted to join the Departments Housing subgroup and the National Advisory group to assist in the writing of the the new National Housing Strategy for Disabled People 2022 to 2027. 
With housing being an important piece of the independent living jigsaw, ILMI recognises the importance of Independent Living supports for many of their members. As per Article 19 of the UNCRPD disabled people have a right to live in and be part of their communities with a range of in home supports which include Personal Assistance Services (PAS), Assistive Technology (AT), home help, assistance with making decisions or adaptions to the home.

IMAGE: screenshot of the Our Housing Right report with the Inclusion Ireland and ILMI logos.

We were also proud to be part of the launch of the Making Inclusion a Reality report which looked at developing a best practice model for these HDSGs. In September, ILMI worked in collaboration with Inclusion Ireland and developed the “Our Housing Rights” report,  which we look forward to working with Inclusion Ireland in 2022 to develop this collaboration. Finally, continuing with the housing theme we were delighted to work with the NDA in December around their comprehensive economic and social evaluation of Universal Design homes. 
In terms of Independent Living supports, we know from the publication of the Department of health’s Capacity Review in July of this year that just over 2,500 people were receiving a Personal Assistance Service (PAS) with an average of 12 hours of support a week. ILMI fully recognises that this is not an adequate amount of PAS for everyone who needs a PAS to live a life of choice, dignity and respect so we have been continuously campaigning to move towards legalising a right to a PAS. After a unanimous Dail motion passing on PAS in November 2019, ILMI has been working in collaboration with all local authorities to ensure support for the Motion at local level. Only a small number of local authorities have yet to show their support for the Motion and ILMI look forward to working to secure all local authorities’ support early 2022.

In addition to supporting many individuals in their quest to obtain adequate PAS ILMI also facilitated the ILMI PAS peer support group to allow Leaders of their PAS to share a space to discuss and support others around their PAS. This space was also instrumental in bringing together a consultative group on ‘Dining, Tourism and Accessible Spaces’; given the impact of continuing public health restrictions on accessibility. ThePAS peer support group also worked with the HSE Quality Improvement team to develop COVID guidelines for Personal Assistance Services (PAS) and went on to support a separate Working Group on Deinstitutionalisation. 
IMAGE: screenshot of James Cawley participating in the Joint Committee on Disability Matters.

In terms of representation ILMI have appeared and engaged with the Joint Committee on Disability Matters, the HSE quality improvement team, HSE disability advisory group, the National Transport Authorities taxi advisory group, the comprehensive employment strategy implementation group, the ODG, IHREC, the community platform, NYCI, youth work Ireland, EAPN and the NDA.
For further information please visit our website (www.ilmi.ie) where many of our Submissions are available to download:  – ILMI Submission to the review of the Equality Legislation– ILMI Submission to the Public Consultation on Disability Social Care Services – ILMI review of the Department of Health Disability Capacity Review– ILMI Submission to the Student Grant Scheme Review– ILMI Observations on the State Report– Submission on the Mental Health Act 2001– ILMI Submission on the Dying With Dignity BillIf you want to find out more information about Independent Living Movement Ireland’s policy work you can get in contact with our Policy Officer James Cawley at: jamescawley@ilmi.ie

ILMI Women’s Group 


IMAGE: graphic for the ILMI Women’s Day event.

Over the last year the ILMI Women’s Group has met regularly and continued to grow in strength. The group has a diverse mix of women that come together to discuss a range of topics including disabled women’s health issues, transport, advocacy and more everyday light-hearted things such as the latest Netflix series!
Throughout the year we were also delighted to support the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence Campaign, run a highly successful International Women’s Day event and be represented by our Peer Mentor Shelly Gaynor at a number of national Women’s Day events.

If you identify as a disabled woman and would like to know how you can get involved with the ILMI women’s group then please contact Shelly at shellygaynor@ilmi.ie. 

ONSIDE Reflections
As we reach the end of an extremely busy year for our ONSIDE crew Programme Co-ordinator Peter Kearns provides an overview of some of the year’s main activities.

ILMI ONSIDE Participant Targets are through the New Year roof

IMAGE: screenshot of some of the ONSIDE cohort 1 Zoom group.

ILMI’s cross border social inclusion & IT project team of ONSIDE have just completed the graduation of a further fifty-plus youth and adult disabled participants on their ninth Cohort-‘I’ group for end of 2021. The current fantastic crop of graduates from November to December’s ILMI ONSIDE 6-week programme are topping-up our project participant numbers to just over 500 of an overall ILMI Project target of 625 graduates by autumn 2022. The ILMI ONSIDE Team can’t believe time has flown by so quickly since their first group graduated at Donegal and Monaghan community centres just before the Covid March 2020 Lockdown. Immediately on the national declaration of the pandemic Lockdown in mid March 2020, the ILMI Coordinator Peter Kearns rallied the team to transfer every border county programme of events onto Zoom and they successfully had created a busy weekly timetable of on-line workshops for signed-up participants from April 2020 onwards.

ONSIDE Coordinator Peter Kearns tells ILMI’s E-Bulletin Xmas-special that: “Our border county team of Community Navigators & Mentors and our Disability Equality IT & Social Inclusion Officer Dr James Casey have been incredibly successful in their transformation of training onto weekly zoom classes”. The team are on target to reach their overall participant numbers before ILMI’s final ONSIDE Cohort-‘M’ at end of August 2022. Peter also praised “ILMI’s ONSIDE Administrator whiz-kid Angela Coleman for keeping all the paperwork flowing to our EU INTERREG funders”. The New Year begins with a group of over 50 participants getting their hand delivered free Tablet & IT accessories before starting their 6-week programme from ILMI’s ONSIDE border counties long waiting-list on week of 24th January.

2021 has been such a busy year for the ILMI ONSIDE Team of five Community Navigators (CN): Clive Lowry (Louth), Audrey Wilson (Sligo/Leitrim), Mark McCollum (Cavan), Edel McGinley (Monaghan) and Orla Beirne (Donegal). Each ‘CN’ recruit and facilitate One-to-One support & mentoring to disabled people who may feel somewhat isolated in border rural and urban communities. The team then deliver a 6-week programme of IT and social inclusion workshops with our project partners that leads to participants graduating with an ONSIDE Certificate and their own Tablet and access chosen accessories. ILMI’s CNs prepare and hand deliver the Tablets to participants at the start of the social inclusion relationship and some months later, complete the One-to-One process by having individual Personal-Action-Plans towards graduates effectively engaging with their local communities.

ILMI’s ONSIDE project has evolved into many strands and tangents with our Northern Ireland partners. Coordinator Peter has just completed his cross border creative-writing 4-week programme  with participants from our NI Disability Action partner and ILMI’s ONSIDE graduates, with the new writers finishing their project reflections through Japanese Haiku poems and short stories. The creative work is going towards gathering case study materials with ONSIDE Researcher Dr Emma O’Neill towards end-of-project target of 100 participant lived experiences. Peter will deliver another 4-week prog. In New Year. With our ILMI video editing guru John Owens Peter has finished editing ten short films based on ILMI graduates experiences of ONSIDE’s many workshops and on-line social inclusion spaces. Peter has also booked actor/activist Mat Fraser to appear on our new year Social-Evening gig and has got ONSIDE partners to confirm booking and fee payment of Mat to be main ‘motivational-speaker’ at the next ONSIDE cross border event on 24th February 2022.

Coordinator continues to facilitate monthly Mentoring Zoom workshops with the ILMI ONSIDE team to support their One-to-One and local DPO development. Peter has also mentored and supported Louth Community Navigator Clive to lead the county’s Disabled Persons Organisation (DPO) launch on 3rd Dec. UN International Day for Disabled People. The 80-participant attended webinar included Peter interviewing UK activist Phil Friend of NOT-DEAD-YET. ONSIDE Community Navigator Audrey of Leitrim DPO organised a group event/celebration for week of 3rd December 2021 with presentation by ONSIDE graduate and Full-Spectrum speaker Niall Jordan from Carrick-on-Shannon. ILMI’s ONSIDE Navigator Orla continued her support for the organic process of DPO confidence building in Donegal. Monaghan’s Edel and Cavan’s Mark are aiming to launch their individual county DPO’s in May 2022 on European Independent-Living Day.

ILMI ONSIDE creative responses to Isolation and pandemic

IMAGE: The ONSIDE logo with the text ONSIDE is a fantastic opportunity to meet new people, learn new things and share experiences and ideas.

We are currently waiting for subtitles to be completed for the current ten ILMI ONSIDE case-study promo videos already edited and will launch the eclectic video shorts onto social media platforms in early 2022. ILMI ONSIDE team are keen to record further graduate interviews until near end of project in November 2022. Coordinator has also facilitated ILMI’s film workshops since spring 2021 with Leitrim film maker Johnny Gogan and ILMI post-production guru John Owens and participants exhibited their finished 3-minute shorts at end of October final 2021 film workshop. The short films will join photography and art work created during the pandemic by ILMI members on the spring launch of our ‘IS’ Gallery (‘IS’ stands for the Invisible Shadow Gallery).

ILMI ONSIDE Presentations and DET Workshops
The ILMI ONSIDE Team delivered presentations to mainstream and disability-sector organisations throughout the border counties and national platforms such as NDA, NAS, IHREC, ETB, HSE, Area Partnerships/Leader and other DPO collectives. Coordinator Peter started 2021 by training-up the ILMI ONSIDE Team in Disability Equality Training (DET) and mentored team members to deliver DET workshops to our 6-week programme participants throughout the Covid embraced year. ILMI ONSIDE team have also delivered numerous Disability Equality Training workshops to community & voluntary sector national and local organisations. Many of the team’s DET national workshops were delivered to mental health staff & volunteers of organisations who are members of Community Development Mental Health Network and Mental Health Reform Network. The online DET workshops designed by ILMI ONSIDE Coordinator Peter Kearns have resulted in many national organisations clarifying a social model definition of term ‘Disability’ related to mental health labels.

Coordinator also delivered DET workshops to Community Workers Irl. and published a 4-page Dec. 3rd article for Community Workers Irl. magazine. Peter’s challenging article reflected on disability equality’s relationship with a sometimes ‘distant’ community development sector. Coordinator is also a member of North West Drugs & Alcohol Taskforce and was at November guest panel speaker at the International Nursing and Midwifery Studies Conference with St. Angela’s College Sligo. At such conferences throughout 2021 Peter introduced the theme of medical model Intersectionality versus a social model Intersectionality approach in partnership with DPOs.

2021 ILMI ONSIDE YouthCamp


IMAGE: a poster for the inaugural ILMI ONSIDE Youth Camp.

June of 2021 saw ILMI ONSIDE team delivery of the first ever disability equality YouthCamp in ROI to a group of 17 to 22 years old from the border counties. The two week of social inclusion workshops involved inviting new and regular guest speakers on mainstream community, health & well-being topics –  including themes of: further adult education with ETB, YouthWork Irl., BELONG LGBTQ+, on-line security and banking, CREATE with Patrick, local Development Co., ONSIDE Peer Researcher Co-ordinator and two Disability Equality Training workshops with Coordinator. Apart from repeating and expanding the YouthCamp for summer 2022, ILMI ONSIDE has now established long-term disability equality capacity building relationships with YouthWork Irl. and BELONG.
 
2021 ILMI ONSIDE Team support enabling Strategic Plan
2021 saw ILMI ONSIDE team deliver individual and group supports beyond just hitting targets for their cross border project. ILMI’s Orla, Audrey and Edel are currently supporting the Women’s Group to source some great speakers for next year’s March 8th International Women’s Day ILMI eclectic celebrations. Dr James Casey is looking forward to ILMI’s spring big media panel of disabled activists and TV personalities. James has also supported ILMI’s Youth-Collective throughout 2021 and ONSIDE’s Louth Community Navigator has also joined Dr Casey in helping-out with the Collective’s sexuality & relationship programme of workshops facilitated by YouthWork Irl.. ONSIDE Administrator, while keeping our INTERREG funders happy with the project’s mound of paperwork, continues to keep ILMI’s accounts and wages in ship-shape order.
 
Coordinator Peter Kearns will be supported by Cavan’s Community Navigator Mark McCollum and Louth activist & dramatist Paula Soraghan to organise in 2022 in-person workshops (when public health restrictions allow) at Carmichael House Dublin. This will facilitate a pool of disabled actors to consider auditioning for recently Arts Council funded play ‘NO MAGIC PILL’, towards its autumn premiers in Galway and Tallaght theatres. Apart from being in no doubt about successfully reaching its participant project numbers in mid 2022, the ONSIDE team is already looking at how ILMI can be a lead partner in a possible 2023 onwards ONSIDE-2 or ONSIDE-Rides-Again programme of border county DPOs set-ups and Social Inclusion supports for ILMI members and supporters. The ILMI ONSIDE Team wish all our participants and graduates a happy Xmas and an active new year.

CREATE

IMAGE: the word CREATE

The world of work can be a challenging place to navigate and manage your journey through. For disabled people, these challenges are often more significant due to impairment or barriers to access, which are systemic across all sectors of work, training, and education.

For the world of work to be fully accessible and inclusive, there are three broad areas where challenges need to be addressed and barriers removed: Personal, Professionals, and Societal. The initial focus of the CREATE project has been on the Personal – factors unique to each disabled person and relating to their own impairment, experiences, and goals.

Over the past 6 months the CREATE programme has delivered two programmes of Life Coaching, Skills Workshops, and Peer Mentoring with the aim of supporting CREATE candidates to grow their personal and professional confidence, identify opportunities and pathways to pursue, and the knowledge and skills to help them do so.

CREATE has been fortunate to have so far worked with outstanding facilitators and speakers in the delivery of its programmes, which we are truly thankful for. Most importantly it was ran with two incredible groups of people who have established a community of peers. These groups are now both learning what they need to do to achieve their employment goals and also teaching us what disabled people as a collective need to do to make sure that the world of work is fully accessible and inclusive for all. This, along with their own individual successes which have included work experience opportunities, participation in education and training courses, and independent living supports, means CREATE can be very confident and excited for what it has achieved in 2021 and what it hopes to achieve in 2022.

To learn more about CREATE and what it can offer please contact Patrick at patrickflanagan@ilmi.ie.

ILMI Youth Collective – A Year in Review


IMAGE: graphic of young disabled people with various impairments.

2021 was the second year of ILMI’s Youth Collective that began in July 2020 and what a year it has been! Supported by two dynamic ILMI staff: Dr. James Casey (ONSIDE Support Officer) and James Cawley (ILMI Policy Officer) the group has gone from strength to strength.

In the past twelve months the gang has actively engaged with several governmental and non-governmental agencies. One exciting space included Youth Work Ireland (thanks very much Tracey) providing a series of workshops on sex, relationships and consent. This particular programme was first run in our Onside Youth Camp, which took place in June and proved to be both great craic and productive for all participants. It is important to acknowledge the unique nature of these workshops. Never before have young disabled people in Ireland discussed issues of sex, consent and relation in a social model guided space.

Indeed, many of the consultations which the Youth Collective took part in were unique engagements between a DPO youth group and other organisations. For example, we took part in two consultation spaces with the National Disability Authority (thanks Maeve!). We were invited and gave our position to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (thanks Fidelma!) about what we would like them to focus on in their new strategic plan. The National Youth Council of Ireland (thanks Anne) came to the collective to ask what young disabled people feel is important in the shaping of the EU, and the Youth Collective were also central in shaping ILMI’s CRPD shadow report specifically relating to the articles on young persons.

These were tough spaces. These were not tokenistic consultations; the Youth Collective made sure they were not these types of discourses and to be fair, neither did the organisations that came to engage with us. They know that the collective is not constructed along impairment lines. That it is a part of a national DPO and that we work, as ever, from the foundation of the social model. In each of these consultation spaces the measured and direct response by the collective was impressive. While sharing our impairments amongst ourselves and mutual experience of inequality, we know that working cooperatively, together is the most effective way to affect change. We hope and believe that we are doing our small part in making Ireland a fairer place for disabled people. Nobody can speak for us, but us.

We are looking forward to another year causing ripples and making dents in the neoliberalism disability industry sector wall. Each of our consultations, each of our policy engagements and each of our acts of activism, no matter what the size or shape. Each time we call them out – that is another is another crack, another foundation becoming shaky, in their wall of oppression.

Happy Christmas from the Youth Collective to the wider ILMI family and thank you for your support.
Nothing about us, without us! Rights not charity, and sure why not – Fight the power!

Something for Everyone…

As COVID continued to change the way we lived over the past 12 months ILMI continued to respond with new and exciting ways to keep us linked together.
The New Year kicked off with a Healthy New You programme, which included ‘Eat Well, Feel Better’ with Alexia Treanor and ‘Yoga and Stretching’ with Sean Byrne. These new well-being programmes were really well received with a waitlist quickly developing for both sessions. As a result a second round of nutrition and wellbeing classes took place during the summer.


IMAGE: graphic of the CEOL21 Promo Poster.

In March CEOL21 was born to provide a night in to remember. With a stunning line-up of musical talent, ranging from Mundy to Tolu Makay the night didn’t disappoint. Over 200 disabled people tuned in for some serious fun, which continued well into the wee hours.

As we continued to socialise differently we also held a number of high profile social events during the year. A huge thanks to Richard Butchins, Nevin Maguire, Adam Pearson, Judy Heumann and Phil Friend for taking the time to provide a highly entertaining social evening for our members.


IMAGE: screenshot of some of the ILMI Social night posters during the year.

As always thanks for your ongoing support for making these events so successful. If you have an idea of an online space you would like to see us focus on in 2022 do let us know at info@ilmi.ie.

Happy Christmas from All of Us!

As 2021 draws to a close we thank you sincerely for all your support, interaction, ideas and encouragement. We wouldn’t be ILMI without you all! Have a wonderful Christmas and our ILMI team will be back to your computer screens, meeting rooms and lives in January 2022!


Image: A graphic of a Christmas tree with the text Merry Christmas from all the ILMI staff team. May all your Christmas Wishes come true!

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