Nicolas Bizel of the EU Delegation to Serbia attended a donors’ meeting hosted by the Cultural Centre of Novi Sad, celebrating the 15th anniversary of Living Upright Centre, dedicated to supporting persons with disabilities.
“The European Union has donated some EUR60 million for the promotion of social inclusion in Serbia. The support was aimed at vulnerable groups, including minorities, the Roma and persons with disabilities. We have to work together to create conditions for employment and education of persons with disabilities and improve their health protection,“ Bizel said.
The European Union supports the work of the Centre through a project of technical assistance for civil society organisations – TACSO. The money raised at the meeting will be used to cover the expenses of the personal assistant service.
Following a discussion on independent living of persons with disabilities, participants in the meeting watched a French film “The Untouchables“ which focuses on the service of personals assistance. They also had a chance to see an exhibition dedicated to the history of the independent living movement and hear a presentation of the book “Fighting for Life: Gordana Rajkov’s life story,“ penned by Centre’s President Milica Ruzicic Novkovic.
She said that the Centre has for years been delivering the service of personal assistance, for which it holds a licence, adding that the exhibition gave an insight into the development of their idea which is a precondition to achieve independent living of persons with disabilities.
“In order to deliver the services to everyone, we need RSD21 million a year to pay RSD24,000 wages, that is RSD24 million for RSD30,000 wages. The wages cover labour and travel expenses for assistants. Since we are RSD2 million short in 2017, the goal of this meeting is for donors to recognise the importance of this service, on the one hand, and for the City of Novi Sad to amend its decision regarding social protection, on the other,“ Ruzicic said.
Also, the Centre has so far offered experiential counselling for 300 beneficiaries and published 17 publications dealing with persons with disabilities.