International and European Day of People with Disabilities

SOS LONELINESS, I ALSO MATTER

On the occasion of the International and European Day of People with Disability which takes place every year on December 3rd, this year 2019 the CERMI social movement publishes the following:

 MANIFESTO

Unwanted loneliness is one of the scourges of the self-called advanced societies. Women and men with disability face daily situations of social isolation and community life separation which cause greater dose level of forced loneliness. This loneliness has a lot of different and cumulative reasons: lack of accessibility to the surroundings, products and services; the impossibility or the extreme hardship to exercise the fundamental rights; the forced inactivity; the lack of support for achieving an efficient personal autonomy; to live in environments  with no resources due to the weak and non-equal distribution of these resources, as for example rural areas; the continued existence in the popular consciousness of reluctant and negative behaviours about the worth of people with disability, etc. Ultimately, the structural exclusion and discrimination towards these citizens intensify the forced loneliness.

The unwanted loneliness in this social group is not uniform. People with disability at greater risk of exclusion are more exposed to suffer unwanted loneliness: elderly people, children victim of violence, people with intellectual and developmental disability, or with mental health problems, with acquired disability in adulthood period or in old ages; and in general those people with huge supporting needs for their autonomy. Factors such as gender, age, kind of disability, origin and place of residence, among others, may cause more loneliness. All the mentioned above get worse if we talk about women with disability, seen from any intersectional perspective: unwanted loneliness usually has woman face.

According to sociological researches, more than a 20 percent of people with disability live alone and a 38 percent of these people live in unwanted loneliness conditions. The 74 percent of people with disability who live alone are women. The relationship hardship -the lack of bonds and strong social relationships- is an exacerbated fact regarding people with disability. Unwanted loneliness is a growing phenomenon, with high human, social and medical costs which must be a transversal action aim of the public policies, now and in the future.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities compels to eliminate detrimental stereotypes towards this social group. Thus, the Governments must promote positive actions and they have to raise awareness about the inherent worth of people with disability and their contribution to society. This human rights treaty revolves around two essential principles: the inclusion and community life. Both powerful tools in order to reduce the isolation and unwanted loneliness of people with disability. Furthermore, the 2030 Agenda and the UN Sustainable Development Goals establish not to left no-one behind or outside.

SOS LONELINESS

Because I live confined at home without elevator…

Because I lost my friends while leaving my house due to not fulfilling the proper accessibility conditions to my new disability situation…

Because I cannot participate in discussions, I cannot access to information nor to communicate…

Because I cannot work…

Because I am an older woman with disability and they do not allow me to manage my own life…

Because they never take my opinion into consideration, they never ask me what do I like or what do I want…

Because I am old and I have a disability and I do not have any support to achieve life skills as I would love to…

Because I depend on others for any life activity and my will is denied…

Because I do not have a personal assistant…

Because I suffer school bullying due to my disability…

Because I cannot or they do not allow me to do my favourite sport…

Because I have to renounce to enjoy leisure time activities and to culture because of the lack of accessibility to buildings, but also in movies or theatres…

Because I live in a rural area and I do not have access to any resource…

Because I have a disability and I live on the streets…

Because people do not know how to relate to me or they do not want to…

Because I may seem odd to them…

Because I have a disability, thus my decisions are questioned…

For all these or similar situations we daily face, women and men with disability, and their relatives, we all raise our voices to shout:

SOS LONELINESS, I also matter

We claim the citizen and public movement towards the proper strategies in order to reduce the great evil of the social isolation that destroys people with disability, by actions like:

  • To adapt and give universal accessibility to environments, products and services, starting with the housing, so people with disability do not have additional problems regarding relationship and social participation.
  • To take strong measures to reduce inactivity and unemployment among people with disability. The more labour inclusion and decent work, bonds and relationship increase.
  • To adopt a State-wide Strategy on Inclusion in every Region which allows to institutionalised people to live according their own wills and preferences, taking into account inclusive life resolutions in the community.
  • To offer to people with disability and their relatives subsidies and proper services to promote personal autonomy and to encourage them to improve an independent life.
  • To promote public awareness campaigns aimed to eliminate negative stereotypes towards people with disability, with a collaborative approach between organised civil society, public authorities and the media.
  • To have support and accompanying programs to people with disability relatives, especially by the time of the onset or realisation of the disability and during the early childhood, if the disability is acquired at the very beginning of the life.
  • To implement for real actions and bullying and harassment prevention program aimed to the students, especially if they have any disability.
  • To display active programs aimed to people with disability in order to promote and to reinforce the social and neighbourhood bonds.
  • To establish resolutions which pursues the digital transformation to accompanying and empowerment of the elderly with disability, with a collaborative cross-generational approach.
  • To have measures to promote an active volunteerism of women and men with disability, boosting their willingness to become volunteer agents by themselves and their full social participation, as a way of creating social bonds in order to decrease loneliness. 
  • To approve a National Strategy on Inclusive Country-side Development which considers people with disability who live in rural areas in Spain, in order to improve their participation and to access to social welfare rights.
  • To train the professional crews of the public services which make easier to detect and to intervene in unwanted loneliness situations of people with disability.
  • To have full accessible information about the available resources within the framework of unwanted loneliness for people with disability.
  • To draft researches and studies about unwanted loneliness in people with disability.

In conclusion, CERMI movement calls upon to raise awareness about this growing social problem, the unwanted loneliness, and it summons up the public and civic action in order to create a non-restriction community life as a rich, decent, intense and large experience, with the contribution of everyone, with or without disability. With the participation of women and men with disability, without isolation nor forced loneliness, making inclusion real, it will bring a massive personal and collective improvement.

December 3rd 2019.

Spanish Committee of Representatives of People with Disability

-CERMI-

www.cermi.es

www.convenciondiscapacidad.es

www.fundacioncermimujeres.es

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