The independent living movement will only continue to thrive if Britain stays in the European Union (EU), according to one of its pioneers.
John Evans, one of the founders of the UK independent living movement, told a Westminster seminar that he believed independent living would only continue to develop in the UK if it was still protected by EU laws.
He said that disabled people wanted to “pull down barriers, not erect them” and recognised that discrimination “does not stop at borders”.
Evans (pictured) was liberated from a Cheshire Home 33 years ago, when he used council funding to set up his own independent living scheme in Hampshire, and has since become a key figure in both the UK and European independent living movements.
He was involved in 1989 – along with disabled people from 19 European countries – in setting up the European Network on Independent Living (ENIL), an organisation he later chaired.
He told the audience of politicians, academics and campaigners who support voting to remain in the EU in this month’s referendum that his involvement in ENIL had had a huge influence on his life, and that he had “personally witnessed the enormous benefits, successes and achievements disabled people in the UK have gained from the EU”.
He said: “I firmly believe that in order for independent living to continue to thrive, we need to be able to do it within the European legislative framework and along with our disabled friends and allies in Europe.”
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