Minister Kathleen Lynch welcomes the work of the Next Steps Project

(01 Feb 2013)

Press Release – Next Steps Dissemination Event, 31 January 2013 Portlaoise

The disability policy framework in Ireland is unprecedented in terms of its scale and depth. Following on from the announcement of our National Disability Strategy our Government has published the Value for Money and Disability Policy Review and policy reports on the area of Congregated Settings, Adult Day Services, Autism and Progressing Disability Services for Children and young Adults. This policy framework offers exciting opportunities and very real challenges to organisations to achieve a new vision for people with intellectual disability in Ireland.

The National Federation of Voluntary Bodies is committed to meeting these challenges head on to achieve this vision and in this regard has developed a very exciting project called Next Steps, whose primary purpose is to develop the capacity of service providers to make the transition to provide more individualised supports in line with the new policy framework.

The Next Steps Project works through a community of learning in which 21 organisations providing supports to people with intellectual disabilities are sharing information about how they are forging new ways of providing supports. The participants; including people with disabilities, family members, staff and managers, work together to address challenges and share pathways to solutions.  An event was held  on 31st January 2013 in Portlaoise to highlight the work that has taken place over the past year in moving forward with real changes in people’s lives and the changes in organisations that have happened to support this. The event provided the opportunity to share that learning with a wider audience; with over 200 delegates attending. 
 Picture of group at Next Steps Event.JPG Thumbnail0

 Alison Harnett, Hope Leet Dittmeier, Cate Hartigan, Mary Seymour, Minister Kathleen Lynch, John O’Dea, Brian O’Donnell, Niamh McMonagle, Alan Blythe, Josephine Flaherty, Mary O’Donohoe, Lesley-Ann Kavanagh, Martin Dooher, John Collins

Commenting at the Next Steps event, Minister Kathleen Lynch stated; “I very much welcome and support the National Federation of Voluntary Body’s initiative in developing the capacity of its member organisations to reconfigure services and supports to people with intellectual disabilities in line with our new policy direction. It is all the more commendable that this important work is being done in this very challenging economic climate.”

Speaking at the conference, Cate Hartigan (Assistant National Direction of the HSE with responsibility for Disabilities) applauded the work of the organisations of the Next Steps Project in working towards individual supports and said that this was ‘real implementation of policy, coming from the local level up’. Keynote speaker Martin Dooher said that whilst staff made many decisions for him in the group home “now I decide”.  Emily Meagher, who has moved from a group home in the community to independent living with two friends said “If I can do it you can do it too”, whilst Mary Seymour said that the most important thing we can do to support people to live more independent lives is to “Stop stopping us!”


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