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Human rights, Social inclusion and empowerment of disadvantage


Integration of persons with mental health disabilities and their relatives and other vulnerable groups for active participation in public life.


Who is behind this?

Cvetko Tovornik

“Association SVIZCI – association of users for mental health”; in short:“Association SVIZCI"



Idea pitch

Persons with mental health issues, other persons with disabilities and their relatives are in large extent stigmatised, discriminated, and therefore excluded from public life. Full enjoyment of their human rights is far from being implemented. The objective is to tackle this challenge by empowering these groups. We will do so by education for action, peer-support, and self-advocacy groups. By adopting direct democracy approach, we aim for their meaningful inclusion and empowerment in community.

Where will your project idea take place?

Central Slovenia, Carinthia, Gorizia, Coastal-Karst, Mura, Sryria.

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

Target regions are characterised by mostly institutional care for persons with disabilities and considerable lack of accessible and responsive community services which could prevent institutionalisation. Predominant care, provided in total institutions far from urban centres, violates human rights, segregates users and is therefore a big obstacle for their civic participation in public life. Civic infrastructure exists but remains rather closed for persons with disabilities since it largely does not actively address those groups. All this is not the case for Central Slovenia, which contributes to the project by the fact that it provides a big concentration of decision-makers in the region.

Who are you doing it for?

The key target group represent people with mental health issues and their relatives. They can be characterised as an excluded group due to the high level of institutionalised care which violates their human rights and prevents them from meaningful civic participation. Even when they receive community care, their voice is somehow not heard due to the lack of user-led initiatives, councils of the community services. Additionally, their voice cannot be heard or trusted also due to stigmatisation and discrimination in community. Up to 6 action groups are planned, altogether involving up to 40 individuals. Especial added value of the project is the fact that the project group mirrors the target group – we are all users of mental health services (peer-led work).

How do you plan to get there?

The core activities are two-fold. The first step is to develop different groups (ranging from peer-support to action and self-advocacy groups) on the local level. These groups are aimed to create an inclusive, non-institutional spaces in which persons with disabilities gain their knowledge and skills of how to take over an active role in their empowerment process. Decision of which group to develop in which region will depend fully on the local needs. The development of these groups will be user-led and accompanied by user-led action research so as to be able to better grasp user expectations and needs related to their enjoyment of human rights on the local level.
The second step is to gather facilitators as well as interested members of these groups to educate them for advocacy vis-à-vis key stakeholders. This activity will have of form of intensive seminars, camps or educational excursions to meet already existent good practices of user-involvement and cooperation. These two steps will have a simultaneous course.
The core activities are accompanied by dissemination activities. The objective of dissemination activities is to voice the perspectives of civil initiatives from the core activities and assure they are heard by and embedded in the decision-makers bodies.

What are the expected results?

We expect up to 6 peer-support or action groups with overall up to 40 users. These groups are aimed to be empowered to remain active also after the implementation phase of the project. Additionally, these groups are aimed to be a motor of direct user-involvement on the local level in the future. In each of the target regions, we will do a dissemination event which will be followed by a follow-up activity to assure sustainability of the event.

How does your idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

Our project strengthens active citizenship by every activity. In the core activities, we will provide an open and welcoming space where people with disabilities will gain an experience of taking over an active role in group empowerment processes. In such groups, they will be able to voice their needs; to meet such needs in the process of peer-support and to demand structural changes from the due institutions to improve their quality of life. The main objective of civic education is to empower the members by collectively addressing experiences which would otherwise remain individualised. In the dissemination activities, these users’ voices will be confronted with those of key stakeholders in public assemblies, round tables etc. where dialogue and direct action will be facilitated.

Why is this idea important to you?

The team consists of five user activists in the field of mental health. We are the only user-led association in Slovenia in this field. As service users ourselves, we know what other service users’ experiences are. We also know the structure of decision-makers on local and national level and the ways of how to connect with these. The team has experiences with peer-support and action groups, empowerment, user research and civic participation. Throughout our activist experiences we have build a network of other users in the target regions who provide us with the knowledge of the target regions and their specifics. The main motivation is to foster further user emancipation and building bridges to strengthen user initiatives in Slovenia.

€ 20000,-

Total budget

€ 20000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Travel expenses, material expenses, paid work, rents, administrative expenses, photo/video documentation of events, construction of website

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We would be happy to receive feedbacks related to possible improvements of our concept. We are happy to get connected to a user-led initiative in your country. Additionally, if you have an idea of how to match our idea with initiatives outside mental health, we are open to it.



Idea created on April 26, 2021

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