• Our work

    Eurodiaconia links diaconal actors to examine social needs, develop ideas and influence policies impacting Poverty and Social Exclusion, Social and Health Care Services and the Future of Social Europe.

    Eurodiaconia also provides a platform for transnational networking and best practice sharing.  

     

  • Our vision

    As the leading network for diaconal work in Europe, we look to develop dialogue and partnership between members and influence and engage with the wider society.  We do this to enable inclusion, care and empowerment of the most vulnerable and excluded and ensure dignity for all.

     

  • Our goals

    We aim to see a positive social change in Europe through:

    Praxis, enabling membership engagement and partnerships

    Advocacy, creating a network of competence to impact policies at European and national level

    Identity and values, supporting the development of approaches and thinking on Diaconia in Europe today

     

Calendar Saturday, March 28, 2015
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Editorial
Read up on what has been happening this week on our weekly editorial.

Rights and Responsibilities

26 March 2015

This week has seen a focus on rights and responsibilities. At the beginning of the week, representatives of our members Diakonie Germany and Gothenburg City Mission (Sweden) spoke to a selected group of partners and institutional actors about the challenges of service provision for EU mobile citizens. Both spoke about how the application of EU law governing whether or not an EU national has a right to services and social support in another country is at times incorrect and confusing, for the service provider, for local authorities and most of all for individuals. EU citizens have social rights in other countries and it is the responsibility of government at European, national and local level to ensure that those rights are accessible and are given without restriction. At the same time, as NGOs working with people who try to find their place in a new country, we also take the responsibility to help with individual navigation of new systems and to work with local authorities in giving such rights. However, our members said that they will also take responsibility to expose where weak or complex administration prevents access to those rights and how they have done so already using the media - and how this has brought about change. What was encouraging was hearing from other participants how they valued our members’ knowledge of the reality of EU mobility and social rights and how we had practical proposals to move forward, which is of course part of our responsibility for effecting systemic change.

Systemic change is needed more widely however than just the issue of EU mobility. The need for greater investment in social and health care services on a systemic level was the theme of the breakfast meeting held with our partners in Social Services Europe today. We talked about how increasingly social welfare and social services are seen as a burden on national budgets and how jobs in our sector are increasingly devalued. Participating MEPs committed to work with us to change these perceptions and potentially develop an action plan on investment in our sector: we hope that they will practically take responsibilities in this area. Watch this space!

Have a good weekend,

Heather

 
Raise your Voice!

18 March 2015

This week the European Council has been meeting in Brussels. On behalf of all our members we have written to the Heads of State to ask them to give a higher priority to social policies and to ensure that investment in social infrastructure goes beyond schools, hospitals and prisons and includes social services. Spending on social services is under attack in Europe with the growing cost of social protection and social services seen as an unsustainable burden on the public purse. Yet our members are telling us that not investing in people will have a higher cost as more people are pushed further and further to the edges of our societies and find themselves unable to participate or live in dignity.

This was evidenced this week at the Roma Summit which Stephan attended where it was clear that the lack of access to quality services for Roma people is a major contributor to exclusion and stigmatisation. We also know from some of our members in Sweden who visited Brussels this week that increasing conditionality for access to services, especially towards migrants, challenges some of the fundamental values of our social model. And over the weekend Bailey and Laura will be working with some of our members in the UK to present our members work in ensuring appropriate services for all, including migrants.

We are projecting and raising our members’ voices and concerns in different ways across Europe but we hope we have a common message: invest in services, invest in people.

Have a good weekend,

Heather

 

 
Values in Competition?

13 March 2015

This week I was in Denmark attending the annual meeting of the directors of some of the Deaconess Institutes in the Nordic countries.  It is always a very worthwhile meeting and a great opportunity to catch up on current projects and themes.  I was particularly struck by how many members are faced with the restructuring of social and health care systems in their country, as well as with changes to the education systems.  Some of these changes are welcomed and some are not.  Some changes are a result of increased competition from both private and not for-profit-organisations and some reflect an attempt to achieve better co-operation and economy of scale.  Another theme was how not-for-profit organisations are defined and how the traditional definitions of 'business' and 'NGO' are in some ways being challenged due to the increasingly competitive environment.  

What comes from these discussions is an overarching question of how to remain a diaconal organisation in an increasingly business-oriented and competitive environment. Can our values be sustained in this environment and can we continue to provide services beyond those a local authority is willing to finance?  Each Member State will have to introduce the new rules on Public Procurement and take into account the new, lighter regime for social services, and an increased emphasis on quality.  If the directive is transposed and implemented well, there may be more opportunities for not-for-profit organisations to make their case for quality and values as well as price.  We will be working with members this year and next to support this process and ensure that we find answers to some of the challenges currently being faced.

Have a good weekend,

Heather

 

 
Building a social foundation

6 March 2015

This week, I was in the United Kingdom meeting with our member the Free Churches Group. It was good to catch up on what is happening in the UK in the run up to the General Election, and a number of the churches in the Free Churches Group have developed materials to assist their members and the wider public to think about various issues that are part of the political debate. This week also saw the publication of a report by the Joint Public Issues Team in the UK, which brings together some of our members on the failings of the social welfare system in the UK. You can read the report here. The report focuses on issues of fairness and equity in the welfare system and the disproportionate nature of sanctions and conditionality.  

While this report is very much UK focused, it does represent a wider concern about the notion of modernising social protection systems to ensure effectiveness and efficiency which the European Commission is keen to promote. Such change could and can be positive... but if a system is changed so much that people are punished by the system rather than enabled, then we have to examine the underlying values the system is built on. The values we build on are important: that is why this week we also called on Employment and Social Affairs ministers to ensure a social foundation to the proposal from the European Commission for a 300 Billion euro investment fund. This fund is meant to kick-start recovery in Europe, but without social values and aims as its foundation, any recovery will be merely cosmetic. We need a social investment plan for Europe, Member States and local communities, which is enabling and empowering and not judgmental or punitive!

We hope that this message, promoted by our members and by those of us in Brussels, will be heard!

Have a good weekend,

Heather

 

 
Bringing “colour” to advocacy

27 February 2015

This week, we have had members from Latvia and Kosovo in Brussels on study visits. Creating connections with the European Institutions is not just for those of us in the Brussels secretariat, but it is also for members so that they can create partnerships and access resources for their work, as well as contribute their national expertise to EU policy discussions.

Both Latvia and Kosovo have different challenges, but at the same time, there are similarities: rising needs and less funding. We were pleased that various members of the European Parliament as well as representatives of the European Commission were ready to meet with them and discuss possibilities to address needs and increase resources. We would hope that this visit has raised some potential collaborative projects and that the great work happening in both places will be continued and supported.

I also had the opportunity to accompany the President of Diakonie Deutschland for part of his visit in Brussels this week. Again, we were able to meet with the European Commission to discuss the role that social services play in job creation and social cohesion, presenting the German model of social service provision and comparative systems in other EU Member States.

Welcoming our members here in Brussels also enables us to learn more about their work, their services and projects and bring ‘colour’ to our advocacy discussions and actions. When we can show the reality of the work our members do, it is much more powerful and shows the real impact of well resourced, quality and accessible social services. In all our discussions, we hope that this message has been heard and understood!

Have a good weekend,

 

Heather Roy
Secretary General

 
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