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Our right to have our voice heard is priceless

Children belong in families,
not orphanages
Young Advocates

Our right to have our voice heard is priceless

In May 2019, elections will take place across the European Union to elect Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) for the next five years.

Children and young people across Europe and around the world are impacted by the decisions made by MEPs,  so it's vital that MEPs listen to and act on their views.

At Lumos, self-advocates have their own messages and questions for candidates in the 2019 European Elections to help ensure the future they want for themselves and other young people. 

We are inviting 2019 MEP candidates to listen to these messages and send us their own videos in response to the questions raised.

We are delighted to have received responses to self-advocates from the following MEPs below:

  • Dimitrios Papadimoulis MEP, Vice President of the European Parliament
  • Marek Plura MEP
  • Gunta Anca, candidate MEP
  • Ioannis Vardakastanis, candidate MEP
  • Stefan Tavrov, candidate MEP
  • Antonio López-Istúriz White MEP
  • Maria Spirova, candidate MEP
  • Biljana Borzan MEP

After responding to the self-advocates, we'd also like to invite MEPs to become Child Rights Champions by signing up to the Vote for Children campaign here.

Young self-advocates from Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Moldova have asked direct questions of candidate MEPs standing for election in 2019, covering a variety of issues that are important to them. We have grouped these thematically for you to see here.

Ensuring EU funds are not spent on institutions, but are instead used to support families.


Institutions breach children’s rights and can cause life-long physical and psychological harm. You can find out why institutions are so harmful for children in this message from our Founder J.K. Rowling.

The EU has recognised the harm caused by institutionalisation and has taken great steps in supporting Member States to transform care systems, so that children can live with families and in the community.

Thanks to the 2014–2020 European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) Regulations, an estimated €2.7 billion has been driven towards reforming care systems in EU Member States in the current funding period.

It is vital to ensure that EU funding continues to be spent on supporting families and communities, rather than renovating or building new institutions.

Do you agree? Please send us your video in response to Mihaela.

Stefan Tafrov, candidate in the 2019 European elections for Bulgaria responds to Mihaela on the future funding of institutions.

MEP Dimitrios Papadimoulis, Vice President of the European Parliament, responds to Mihaela on ensuring EU funds will not be directed to institutions but will instead prioritise keeping families together. 

Supporting alternatives to orphanages and institutions


With the right support, many children and young people leaving institutions can be reunited with their own families.

However, in cases where this isn't an option, it's possible for children to be cared for in foster families - or in some cases - small, family-like residential settings integrated in the community.

The EU has played an important role in supporting the development of these services in Member States and has the potential to continue this important work through policies and funding that will be decided by the new Parliament.

What would you do to help ensure these community services are in place, so that children can live in families? Send us your responses to Pavel and Lukas.

Protecting the rights of children and young people with disabilities and in care


Children and young people with disabilities or living in care have the same rights to a safe environment, education and professional development as others, yet often have reduced access to these rights.

MEPs have an opportunity to help more young people fulfil their potential by prioritising this issue and making decisions that support children in vulnerable situations.

Will you make this a priority? Let Veliko know by sending us your video.

MEP Marek Plura responds to Veliko on prioritising young people living with disabilities. 

Making sure that young people leaving care are supported to live independently and thrive


Maria Spirova, candidate in the 2019 European elections for Bulgaria responds to Ivaylo:

Antonio López-Istúriz White MEP:

When young people leave institutions or reach the age to leave the care system, they lack the continued family support that other young people benefit from after they have reached the age of 18.

Often, they find themselves having to suddenly take full responsibility for all aspects of their lives.

Young people that have grown up in institutions have not had the same educational and social opportunities as those that have grown up in families or family-like care. Futhermore, those with disabilities would require additional support to live independently.

As an MEP, what will you do to ensure these young Europeans are supported to fulfil their potential and become productive members of society? Respond to Ivaylo and Teodora, and let them know.

Protecting the rights of children & young people outside the EU


The decisions made by MEPs impact not only EU citizens, but also the lives of children and young people worldwide.

In the following video, young people from Moldova address their own questions to future MEPs, whose decisions could impact their futures and the future of their country.

The messages of these young people cover some similar themes as those the young EU citizens have raised. Children and young people everywhere - with or without disabilities - have the same universal rights and EU external action should consult young people on matters that concern them and be carried out in a way that respects their right to a family life and considers their best interests.

MEP candidates respond to the Self-Advocates

Gunta Anca, candidate in the 2019 European elections for Latvia, Secretary of the Board of European Disability Forum and Chairperson of the Latvian umbrella body of the organisations of people with disabilities SUSTENTO:

Ioannis Vardakastanis, candidate in the 2019 European elections for Greece; President of European Disability Forum and of the National Confederation of Disabled People of Greece (NCDP):

Biljana Borzan MEP responds to Self-Advocates on the future of institutions

As an MEP, how will you ensure that the EU’s external action supports ending institutionalisation worldwide?

How will you take steps to promote the rights of children in institutions, at risk of institutionalisation and having aged out of care through the European Union’s external action?

We’d love to hear from you!