The discussions had a clear theme: Which alternatives do we offer? Are there other ways? If so, which?
It became clear that the people present agreed on the fact that the citizens are to little involved in decision-making processes and partipation as a whole. Questions like “How can we make basic participation happen?” were followed by the idea to create a “Listen to US”-EAPN NL group in 2014. The aim should be to have an open dialogue, to open ourselves more to the rest of the world and to create new discussions.
Sonja Leemkuil gave a clear view on the importance of client participation. In once sentence she made a difference between participation as a whole and client participation in particular. Give 100 citizens the right to participate and ask them questions about health issues. Or give 100 sick persons, who deal with health issues, the right to participate and you will see how the outcome differs. Which makes very clear why client participation is of such importance.
Quinta Ansem, who facilitated the meeting, pointed out the importance of our network, of our co operation on all levels, including the European level. There, we had a discussion concerning voluntary work. Seeing the fact that governments see all the work done by volunteers as voluntary work. This is not realistic. Voluntary work is work done for sports clubs or the church and by persons who are, and always were, members of boards etc. The new voluntary work, mainly done by poor and unemployed is non-paid work. A lot of this work is normally done by a paid person. EAPN has to make a very clear distinction between these two different types of (voluntary) work.
On the whole we had a good meeting that will find a follow up in 2014. For us the extra were all these new organizations that are willing to join our network. (http://goo.gl/nwpG3M)