Over the past year, the New Paths to Inclusion Network has been researching good practices that help to foster inclusion of persons with disabilities. Our research will help us develop training for workers in social services enabling them to provide inclusive support to persons with disabilities. Our study trips to different parts of Europe called also ‘sensing journeys’ will help us explore these good practices.

After Hamburg, our second learning journey took place on 14 and 15 January 2014 in Madrid. Here, the participants had a unique opportunity to visit several organisations working in disability field in Spain and compare their practices.

FEAPS, the Spanish umbrella organisation of persons with intellectual disabilities and their families, has presented us ten strategic projects which help to foster individual approach to people with disabilities in social services and provide them with opportunities to take part in their local community.

Another project presented by FEAPS Madrid and Gil Gayarre Foundation was called Buena Vejez. This project aims to offer guidelines and recommendations on how to ensure quality of life and person-centred support to older people with intellectual disabilities. It is based on three main pillars: the methodology REVISEP which is based on the recollection of positive biographic memories. The second pillar is the adaption of the People Planning Ahead methodology which focuses on individuals’ wishes for the final stage of their life. Finally, the project develops a database of good practices based on scientific and ethical evidence. If you are interested in finding out more information about the 'Buena Vejez', you can follow this link.

Later in the afternoon, we met representatives of TUYA Foundation. Their projects empower people with intellectual disabilities to be active citizens by involving them in various activities in their communities. Their focus is mostly on the role of supporter in the life of person with intellectual disability. They encourage new supporters and provide them with relevant information on their tasks, allowing them accompany persons with disabilities in their daily life.

A new project in catering and restaurant services called AMÁS-ANTOJO gave us an example of how inclusive employment can effectively work in practice. A well-known restaurant called Antojo, the group of persons with intellectual disabilities ‘Amás‘ and other stakeholders piloted the new project with two visions. The first one is to provide jobs for people with intellectual disabilities and develop their confidence, potential and skills. Secondly, the project enables mainstream society to interact with people with intellectual disabilities and diminish prejudices they might have.

Madrid sensing journey was generous on many great examples of inclusive practices which we can take with us into the next stages of the project. We are now looking forward to our third sensing journey at the end of April 2014 will take us to Menter fachwen in Wales. They developed the Walk & Discovery projects where people with an intellectual disability interviewed old people in the region and collected information to gather stories and preserve the wealth of knowledge of this generation about this region. They developed easy to use and read maps of the villages in the North West Wales and different guided walks (http://www.menterfachwen.org.uk/EN/gs.asp?id=69 ).

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