ESN presents in Istanbul

ESN participated in the World Disability Symposium that took place in Istanbul 4-6 March organised with the support of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Alfonso Montero, Policy and Research Officer with ESN presented on the ‘Rehabilitation’ panel, discussing the UN Programme for Action for People with Disabilities. Alfonso reviewed the international and European legal framework for the rehabilitation of people with mental health problems and presented examples of good practice from the ESN Working Group on Mental Health.

“When it comes to the recovery of people with mental health problems, services play an essential role. Goals should be based on the individual’s resources and their rehabilitation should take place in the community,” Montero said.

On 7th March, ESN also paid a visit to the Department of Social Services and Disability at the Municipality of Istanbul. The Director of the Department, Aylin Ciftci, highlighted the initiatives that they have been implementing in the municipality with the aim of “supporting the independence of the disabled and promoting their interests and encouraging their productivity”. Some of these initiatives include: health and employment, call centre and transportation services, travel and entertainment programs as well as community awareness campaigns.

ESN visited two centres of the Municipality located in Tuzla, the Asian part of Istanbul: 1) ISMEM - a centre for homeless youngsters aged 14-25, and 2) ISOM Tuzla – a day centre for people with severe mental health problems.

ISMEM provides homeless youth with a place to live, education and training to equip them with social and labour skills. Youngsters can attend practical courses on mechanics, hair dressing, gardening, electronics, electrics, painting or cooking, while also participating in leisure activities such as sports. In addition, they are provided with private counselling support. Since its implementation in 2003, the programme has helped to integrate 450 youngsters into the community. The main obstacle, however, has been their integration in secondary schools in the community. Often schools have no programme aimed at their integration, and the centre has to accept them back.

ISOM Tuzla is a day centre for people with severe mental health problems - they offer services for the users aimed at developing their artistic, social, psychological and labour skills so that they can enter the labour market afterwards or at least live their lives as independently as possible.

Municipality of Istanbul has recently voted to join the European Social Network (ESN).