• 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 Tuesday, March 03, 2015
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Editorial
Read up on what has been happening this week on our weekly editorial.

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

 
Ensuring better routes to Europe

20 February 2015

According to a report by UNHCR, since last Saturday 2700 migrants have been rescued from the seas around Lampedusa. These are people who have come to Europe in ill-prepared boats (if in some cases you can really call them boats), often fleeing miserable economic, social and security conditions. What happens after they are rescued? Another report said that one of the reception centres had a capacity of 250 places, yet at the moment 1000 people were hosted there making already bad conditions unbearable. Yet they are at least alive. Earlier this month around 300 people died in the water.

Migration to Europe comes in many forms, by many routes and for many reasons. Yet there is a need to ensure human rights regardless of the legal status, the migration patterns or the mode of transport. There is also a need to find safer and more accessible channels of entry to our continent that will dissuade people from taking life-threatening routes.

Our partner, the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe, advocates for better access to Europe and an improved legal situation on migration and supports churches’ and related organisations’ hospitality. At Eurodiaconia, we advocate for services that support migrants in their most basic needs in the short term and integration and inclusion in the long term. Our members in Italy are developing both short and long-term services to help people adjust to Europe and recover from the trauma of their arrival. Members in other parts of Europe are developing support services for unaccompanied minors, integration projects for older migrants and many many more.

We need to ensure that the services provided for and to migrants of any status support their dignity and integration from the moment they are on our continent. We cannot continue to see migrants, particularly those who enter our continent by sea, as second or even third-rate people. It is unacceptable that people have to risk their lives to reach out for social and economic security. It is unacceptable that there is a complete lack of political commitment to ensure better routes to Europe and the services needed to assist people when they arrive in Europe. We will keep working to change this, as will our members.

Have a good weekend,

Heather Roy
Secretary general

 
Making the visible invisible?

12 February 2015       

Last year, I had the opportunity to visit the Anglican chaplaincy in Athens where the Rev. Canon Malcom Bradshaw told me how the social situation in Greece was rapidly deteriorating and how his small church community was not only providing support to those in extreme destitution but also helping young people continue their education and get the skills and training needed to enter the job market. His main concern was that migrants seemed to have become invisible in Athens... They had essentially gone ‘underground’ due to a lack of rights, services and in many ways of recognition of their dignity. What had been visible had become invisible... yet was still there! Migrants, both documented and undocumented are still in Greece, but they have found new ways to live that keep them invisible and, to some extent, many in society are happy with this invisibility as it means they do not have to deal with migrants.

I was reminded of this over the past few weeks as a new government has taken office in Greece. Whatever our opinions of the politics, one thing that is sure is that the Greek government no longer wants to keep the social damages of the crisis invisible. They want a discussion about how to restore both economic and social stability and are making the effects of political decisions more visible to those who make them and those who have to live by them.

It is not just in Greece that the invisible need to become visible. At a European level, we have felt that there has been a distinct lack of social policy visibility in the new European Commission work programme. Social policy is in effect becoming invisible, hidden behind employment and economic policies. But if social policy becomes invisible, does that mean that people are invisible too? The new European Commission wants to be a Commission of the European people – let us hope that they see the faces and experiences of all people in Europe, and not just those they want to see.

Have a good weekend,

Heather Roy
Secretary General

 
Trading in the Common Good

5 February 2015

This week, through Social Platform, I was asked to speak about the proposed “Trade in Services Agreement” (TISA) which aims to open up service markets in the EU to other parts of the world and vice versa. This could include health and social care services depending on how we define public services. International trade agreements are nothing new and nor are they always negative. However whereas 10 years ago trade agreements would have steered clear of social and health care services, our changing demographics and changes in public financing of social and health care services have meant that there is more interest from the private sector in providing services on a profit-making basis, and this is not just limited to Europe. The currently under negotiation Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) shows how global trade is coming ever closer.

When we at Eurodiaconia speak about our concerns about more profit-making interventions in the provision of essential social and health care services, we are often rebutted with positive aspects of competition and open markets, such as the extension of choice or the increase in quality that competition can demand. Both of these points are true in theory but our members have the experience that competition is substantively about cost (who can do it cheaper) rather than the highest quality. We just don't think that social and health care services that are essential for dignity, for engagement, for inclusion and are the facilitators of all of us enjoying our human rights should become purely economic commodities, up for sale to the lowest price. We see the dangers of ‘creaming off' the most profitable services and leaving services for some of the most vulnerable in our societies as either charitable endeavours or lower funded local authority provisions. There is also a territorial issue of accessibility of services being possible in all parts of a state and not just in densely populated areas, and we need to ensure that universal access to all public services is preserved.

Trade and markets are part of our lives and should have a positive impact. Indeed a social market economy is a good thing when the right conditions are set to encourage quality, innovation and engagement. However, when we remove the social aspect, we are left with a market where even our public services could be up for discussion about their value and their provision.

Whether it be in the negotiations around TISA or TTIP or any other discussion about the provision or financing of social and health care services, we need to be vocal about the role of services in achieving and serving the common good and their role in a social market economy. Talking about trade and markets might be taking us out of our comfort zone but it will be necessary if we want to preserve our vision of services. Over the coming months, we will be working with members to develop our arguments on the value of not-for-profit social services providers and how to ensure social and health care services remain for the benefit of all.

Have a good weekend,

Heather

 

 

 

 
Bringing change, being radical

The free movement of people around the EU area is an increasingly sensitive and political subject. 

Much is made in the media of abuse of the right to mobility, yet statistics show that this concerns a tiny minority of people who move from country to country. What is not so prevalent in the media is the difficulties faced by many migrants in accessing services, entering the job market and integrating into society. There are many misconceptions about free movement. There is a need to clarify many aspects of laws and procedures. That is why we recently held a training seminar, jointly with our partners in the Churches Commission for Migrants in Europe, on the law and process of EU mobility and how our members' experience reveals gaps between theory and practice. We were joined by representatives from the European Commission and by academics to help our members build up their knowledge and exchange on the reality of EU mobility. We will be following up this work later in the year, so if you would like to be involved please contact Nicolas Derobert in our secretariat.

This week also saw our first participation in the European Integration Forum where a wide range of stakeholders were gathered together to discuss issues related to migration generally. Eurodiaconia was invited to join this Forum last year and we were delighted to be accepted and attend this week. We were very encouraged that many other organisations wish to work with us in this area.

I also attended a meeting in the European Parliament this week about religion in the public sphere and more specifically in the European Parliament. It was a mixed discussion and often Christian organisations were described as conservative.This has had me thinking... Isn't our faith about bringing radical change in our societies? Reducing inequality, bringing about social justice, caring for each other... these are radical concepts!  

Labels are not always helpful but I hope that we have a bit of radicalism about us, by ensuring that migrants have access to basic human rights, that an Alzheimer patient gets the highest levels of service possible along with compassion and care, or by re-thinking what we mean by prosperity and growth.

Have a good weekend,

Heather

 

 
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