One year and a half into the project, the We are Able! consortium convened in Utrecht for a series of workshops and presentations. The partners reflected on the work of the past months and exchanged plans and ideas for the coming ones. Going forward, three themes will take centre stage: disability inclusion within the consortium, ‘Shift the power’ and equal partnerships, and internal and external communication.
After a year and half of kicking off the We are Able! programme, the staff finally had the opportunity to meet in person on 15 June. The meeting was held in the city of Utrecht, with representatives from all partner organisations.
The first year was busy for the project. There have been challenges and achievements. The meeting was a perfect opportunity to reflect on preliminary results and discuss ideas for the future of the programme.
The meeting had lots of important dialogue and learning moments, and exchange opportunities. Participants started with a short training on Disability Inclusion by expert Paulien Bruijn. During the session, we discussed what it means to be disability-inclusive and to work from a rights-based approach. Central to this conversation was the importance of understanding disability as a problem of society, not of people with disabilities, their right to participate in all aspects of society and our duty to remove the barriers so that they are able to fully do so.
Pauline’s presentation led to the question of how inclusive we are as a consortium. Partners discussed some successes and areas of improvement in this regard. Some of the next steps discussed include the need for partner organisations to appoint disability focal points and to develop their own disability inclusion policies.
The day also included a ‘Shift the Power’ session and an inspiringpresentation on best practices on disability inclusion at the Gooise Meren municipality.
In such big consortiums, with such a diverse mix of backgrounds and areas of expertise, it is normal that building a common understanding takes work and good communication. The discussions also brought to the table the central role of communication in the programme. A few actions points for communication that were discussed include setting-up a common understanding around development work and disability inclusion, establishing clear communication guidelines, and reviewing all programme communication materials in the light of said guidelines.
“The meeting was also fruitful from a team building perspective”, stated one of the participants. “In addition to going through the official meeting agenda, the day was perfect for getting to know each other better in more unofficial conversations over lunch or coffee, that we had been missing for so long.”
Overall, the programme has been progressing well. All staff are looking forward to the consortium’s continued cooperation during the coming years.