• 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 Sunday, July 05, 2015
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Editorial
Read up on what has been happening this week on our weekly editorial.

Solidarity and Commitment

3 July 2015

It seems that right now everyone has something to say about Greece, the coming referendum and the future financial and social stability of this proud country. There is a lot to say, to ask and to discuss and we will see after Monday how those discussions will be framed and hopefully agreed. But it is important that the reality of everyday life in Greece is not forgotten among all the intrigue of the Eurozone and Brussels. This week I spoke with a Christian leader in Athens who told me how life seems to be suspended at the moment with people not knowing what is happening or what will be happening. The diaconal work of churches is needed now more than ever, not just to provide immediate material assistance but also to be bearers of hope and encouragement. I can only hope that wisdom will be the key word in the coming days, as decisions are made that will affect multiple generations for a long time to come.

But I also saw hope this week from young people fighting poverty across Europe. The Ecumenical Youth Council in Europe currently has “addressing poverty in Europe” as its theme, and has undertaken study sessions, communications campaign and advocacy work to present how young people can address poverty among young people. One of the things they have been doing is that once a month, for the past year, all members committed to doing a simple act of kindness in sharing a sandwich with someone who may otherwise not eat. To some this may seem like a traditional act of charity, to me it is an act of solidarity and commitment.

Addressing the social and economic challenges of Europe, not only Greece, will need that solidarity and commitment to long term systemic changes, starting with properly assessing the social impact of all policy decisions at all levels and ensuring that the dignity and care of all people is prioritised.

Have a good weekend,

Heather

 

 
Whose voice is heard?

26 June 2015

At our recent Annual General Meeting, we were challenged by one of the speakers on user involvement. We had spent a very dynamic week discussing social challenges in Europe from many different perspectives, but we were missing the perspective of those most affected - people experiencing poverty, migrants, young people and others. This was a very correct challenge to us and one we need to work on in the coming months. We know it happens in our members, but how do we do that on a European level that is not tokenistic?

I was reminded of this over the last few days, as European leaders debate the Greek situation and discuss how to better address migration into Europe. I wonder: where are the voices of the refugees from Eritrea or the pensioners from Greece? They are not in the Council or Commission discussions, yet the decisions taken will affect their lives and situations dramatically. In fact, it is difficult to hear consideration of the social reality in these discussions. There must be balance between social and economic issues and yes, there needs to be new approaches in both migration and the situation in Greece, but putting people first must be the starting point for sound and sustainable social and economic policies.

We all need to find new ways and the right ways to ensure the voices of all are heard in every discussion - the European institutions could lead by example.

Have a good weekend,

Heather

 

 
Filling Gaps - Bringing Hope

19 June 2015

This time last week, we were concluding our Annual General Meeting in Barcelona. Hosted by the Spanish Reformed Church, nearly 90 delegates spent three days discussing how diaconal organisations fill gaps and bring hope in Europe. We were inspired by three thought provoking key note speakers, particularly on how we exercise hospitality in Europe, how we respond to increasing social inequalities, how we engage users of our services, migrants and people experiencing poverty in our work and how we respond to the migrants’ fundamental needs in Europe.

It was clear across the discussions that we are doing a lot but that there is even more to be done. We may also have to change and adapt to meet the emerging needs in Europe. In particular, increased migration and social deprivation will require both short term and long term changes in how we support and serve people. Seeing how some of our members in Italy and Spain have been both dynamic and fluid in their responses was inspiring to many of our members that can find the size of their organisations a stumbling block to contextual change.

We also elected four new members of our Supervisory Board and said goodbye to Davide Rosso who had been on our Board for 4 years, and also to Jarmo Kökkö who had been our chairperson for 6.5 years. It was an emotional moment to say goodbye but also a moment to congratulate Carla van der Vlist from Kerk in Actie who has been elected as the new Chairperson.

Altogether it was an amazing week with lots of hope and vision for both practical and political contributions to a renewed social Europe - one that we hope will have less gaps.

Have a good weekend,

Heather

 
Finding our Commonality

5 June 2015

This week I was able to join the Nordic City Missions' Conference and hear about the amazing work being carried out in Norway, Sweden, Finland and by the hosts, Denmark. City Missions are on the front line of social exclusion, meeting with people that are often forgotten about, ignored by the wider public and certainly by the social and health care systems. Each group of City Missions presented the major challenges it is currently facing and, unsurprisingly, there were a lot of common challenges. These included providing support and care for EU migrants, increasing poverty and widening inequalities. I was all the more surprised to hear of increasing structural discrimination in most countries than the Nordic social model was previously known for its inclusiveness. But, as I was reminded, it was an inclusive model before society got more diverse. Positively, increasing volunteerism and philanthropy were reported and, although this brings challenges of management and organisation, it shows that there is a concern and interest in the social by some sectors of the general public.

Of course, many of the challenges seen in the Nordic context are replicated in other parts of Europe and that is why next week, at our Annual General Meeting, we will be bringing together our members from all over Europe to identify those European challenges and to propose ways that we can work together to address those challenges. We look forward to the innovations in social policies that will come from those discussions, to the partnerships that will be created and to sharing those with you in the coming weeks.

Have a good weekend

Heather

 

 
Where are our social standards?

29 May 2015

This week in the European Parliament, the European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Mobility and Skills was asked whether or not she would support the development of minimum social standards in the European Union. She said she was personally in favour, but as yet the Commission is not firmly committed to developing this. As a European network, we see the challenges caused by an increasingly socially divergent Europe where low social standards in one country have an effect on others. Our members report increasing intra EU migration as one impact, but there are many others including more extreme deprivation, more over-indebtedness and less investment in affordable and accessible social services.

Minimum social standards should not be a so-called 'lowest common denominator', but they should rather maintain the already existing high standards in some Member States and assist others to achieve the same high standards. With all the talk currently of economic convergence in Europe, we are missing the point about social convergence. A Europe that has high social standards and invests in social policies will be a successful Europe in other areas, including the economy.

For Eurodiaconia, this means continuing to show the positive and sustained impact of investment in social services and social policies. It means showing how tailored support for people in need of care ensures their autonomy and empowerment. It means showing how much investing in the care sector leads to job creation and skills development. It means showing how social protection systems should do just that - protect - rather than punish.

We hope that by the end of this year we will have a commitment from the European Commission to work towards developing social standards in the European Union that will ensure that people receive the best possible support and that the providers of social services are given the support they need to ensure high-quality and accessible social services.

Have a good weekend,

Heather

 

 
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