Gülay Acar - "Disability can also lead to positive things"

Gülay Acar

Gülay Acar manages the EUTB office in Gelsenkirchen. EUTB stands for „Supplementary, independent participation advice“. She explains: „I consider the role of EUTB to be helping people to help themselves.“ It is obvious that she knows a lot about many areas from her own experience. She lives with a severe disability and is in a wheelchair. Despite her considerable physical limitations, she does not appear sad or melancholy. She wants to show other people: „A disability is not something really bad, something positive can come out of it.“

Gülay Acar was given too little oxygen when she was born in Turkey in 1970. She lives with tetra-spasticity with athetosis, unable to move her arms or legs in a controlled manner. She moved to Essen when she was six months old, where her father worked as a Gastarbeiter. „My older siblings were the ‚gateway to society‘ for me,“ emphasizes the petite woman. „Without my family, I would not be where I am today.“ Her sister in particular took her into her circle of friends. Gülay Acar laughs: „I often encouraged her to party, I was and still am very fun-loving!“ Her childhood was Turkish – but she decided to take German citizenship in her early 20s. „I want to give something back to the country where I live and from which I receive benefits.“

Due to her physical disability, she was classified as having a learning disability and attended both a kindergarten and a school for people with disabilities. When she did not receive any support from school in the tenth grade to take a different educational path, she attended VHS in the evenings for two years and closed her gaps in English and higher mathematics. Having graduated from secondary school with a qualification certificate, she moved to a boarding school in Cologne and attended an inclusive school with a senior class.

After graduating from high school, she found her first apartment, studied psychology and enjoyed student life to the full. Since then, she has been using the help of personal assistants who look after her around the clock and help her lead a self-determined life, as the graduated psychologist is unable to eat, drink or go to the toilet on her own. She patiently explains to new assistants what needs to be done and where – „I have to keep my eyes and ears everywhere“. She considers this ability to be a basic requirement for this type of nursing care.

After graduating, she spent several years looking for a job. She then took advantage of an offer to do a year’s internship at a hospital in Oberhausen. The internship turned into a permanent half-time position as a qualified psychologist from 2009 to 2018. Her fears that she would not be accepted by patients due to her disability did not materialize. „I put my heart and soul into my work,“ she recalls. Unfortunately, more and more staff were cut back, so there was hardly any time left for in-depth discussions. So in 2018, Gülay Acar took the opportunity to move to Gelsenkirchen and manage the newly established EUTB office, which is funded by the Federal Ministry of Employment and Social Affairs. She is supported by a colleague. Here she deals with the concerns of people seeking advice. People affected as well as relatives come to the EUTB office. The fact that people with disabilities advise people with disabilities is known as „peer counselling“. They know what people with disabilities need and feel. „But we do not know everything and have to do a lot of research,“ emphasizes the psychologist. „We support people who are seeking advice right where they are. Sometimes it is a balancing act, because what these people want does not always work.“

Anyone seeking advice can obtain answers free of charge from the specialist centre in the areas of social law, social education and social medicine. The advisors can obtain help from the regional teams at the specialist centre. The guiding principle is: „EUTB – independent advice, self-determined participation“.

EUTB office, Wiehagen 8-10, 45879 Gelsenkirchen. Appointments: 0176 47 82 23 10 or info@eutb-gelsenkirchen.de. For more information, visit www.teilhabeberatung.de, EUTB office Gelsenkirchen

„I want to give something back to the country where I live and from which I receive benefits.“