The Independent Living Movement in the UK
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[Excerpt] The origin of the Independent Living Movement in the UK go back to the late 1970s. Disabled People in the UK, like many other disabled people in other Countries were very disenchanted by the services being provided for them at this time. Disabled people felt the services were paternalistic, institutional, second class, too medically orientated and out of touch with their real needs As a result of this they looked elsewhere for solutions to overcome their restricted predicament and living conditions. This led to a number of disabled people finding out about Independent Living which consequently led them to visit the USA, researching into their Independent Living Movement in terms of how it started, what it did and how it developed. They felt the concepts, ideas and philosophy of Independent Living were very significant and appropriate, and would be helpful and innovative in the UK and point a way forward for disabled people in the future. During 1980 and 1981 a number of leading and key individual disabled people were able to raise funds so that they could travel to explore looking into the Independent Living possibilities in the USA, particularly in Berkeley California, which is where the first Centre for Independent Living was established. These people included Vic Finkelstein, a radical activist, sociologist and founder of UPIAS, (Union of the Physically Impaired Against Segregation) which was largely responsible for the conception of the social model of disability, Rosalie Wilkins, a TV presenter of a disability programme and disability activist, and John Evans, one of the founders of Project 81, an innovative scheme to help disabled people get out of institutions and at the time living in an institution himself. These 3 were followed by many others in later years. It was not only disabled people from the UK who went to America, looking for answers and inspirations for their situation at this time, as many other European disabled people did so in their quest for Independent Living too.
disability; Independent Living; independence; United Kingdom