Brussels, September 13, 2023 – The UNIC project marked a significant milestone with its final conference, titled “Personal budgets: A human rights-based way to fund and organize support”. Over the past three years, UNIC has been at the forefront of documenting the surge in user-centered funding models gaining traction throughout Europe.
Since its inception, UNIC’s dedicated consortium of partners has tirelessly supported public authorities in shaping, implementing, and evaluating innovative funding models. At the heart of their efforts lies the Personal Budgets system, a pioneering example of user-centered funding.
The conference kicks off with a warm welcome from James Crowe, EASPD President (Belgium), setting the tone for a day of engaging dialogue. Additionally, MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen will share her insights via a video message. Than Simon Duffy, representing Citizen Network (UK), delivered a thought-provoking keynote speech, shedding light on critical aspects of the conference theme. After it, we carry on in our agenda. Here’s a closer look at the key items:
- Personal Budget Experiences: One of the conference’s highlights was a panel discussion where individuals who have directly benefited from personal budgets shared their personal journeys and insights. Their stories provided invaluable firsthand perspectives, illustrating the positive impact of user-centered funding models.
- UNIC Toolbox Piloting: The conference also dedicated time to explore the practical implementation of the UNIC toolbox in Flanders. This session allowed attendees to gain insights into the toolkit’s real-world application and its potential to enhance the personal budget experience.
- Scaling Up Personal Budgets Across Europe: The discussion on scaling up personal budgets across Europe was a pivotal part of the agenda. Delegates engaged in conversations about the opportunities and challenges faced by different countries in the pursuit of broader adoption of user-centered funding models. This exchange of ideas offered a comprehensive view of the evolving landscape.
- Policy Panel: A critical segment of the conference agenda was the policy panel. Here, representatives from various organizations came together to delve into the future of Personal Budget advocates within the European Union. Their discussions touched upon policy directions, advocacy strategies, and the collective vision for advancing personal budgets in a rights-based framework.
- Concluding Remarks: Pep Solé, an EASPD Board Member representing SUPPORT GIRONA (Catalonia, Spain), delivered the concluding remarks. This segment provided a moment of reflection, summarizing the key takeaways from the conference and setting the stage for future actions.
In summary, the UNIC 2023 Conference was a testament to the commitment of experts and advocates in the field. It fostered a rich exchange of ideas, experiences, and strategies, all with the common goal of promoting personal budgets and human rights-based support systems. It was a platform where individuals from diverse backgrounds united to shape the future of accessible and empowering support systems for all.