• 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 Wednesday, October 01, 2014
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Editorial
Read up on what has been happening this week on our weekly editorial.

Growing our Membership, Growing our Network

20 February 2014

This week I am delighted that we have welcomed The Salvation Army Europe as our newest member of Eurodiaconia.  Spanning Europe from Iceland to Russia the Salvation Army is well known for its commitment to social justice, welfare of the most vulnerable and supporting systemic change from a strong Christian basis.  We have been working with Salvation Army over the past year to see what was the best way for them to join Eurodiaconia and coming in as a Europe wide organization gives all the members a chance to participate in the Eurodiaconia network.  You can read more about the Salvation Army in Europe here

Growing our membership is not simply about numbers but about quality, legitimacy and action.  The wider the network the stronger our position but also the greater quality and reality of our position as it is based on work that is taking place all across Europe by multiple Christian diaconal organizations who can see the realities of the crisis, of welfare reform and societies where care and solidarity are diminishing values.  The wider the network the more possibilities for common actions such as advocacy or partnerships and we will be putting more focus in this area in the coming year.

Such actions are necessary as this week the European Commission held an expert conference on Employment and Social Developments in Europe, based on the content of a report published earlier this month.  I was invited to speak at the conference and commented that the data shows that unemployment is increasing, that in-work poverty is increasing, that material deprivation is increasing and that social protection systems could be much improved.  I also commented that we need to humanize such data, not get bound up in technical analysis but remember that behind every number are people who struggle, who find life fragile, who want to regain control of their lives.  We need both political and practical change to reverse the trends evidenced by the data and Eurodiaconia members want to be at the forefront of humanizing such data and telling the stories behind the numbers.  That is what we are investing so much time in enlarging and developing our network – we can bring about positive change where everyone is valued, lives with dignity and receives the care needed.  We are delighted that Salvation Army Europe, with their history of service and justice, will be telling those stories with our other 42 members.

Have a good weekend

Heather

 
Building Blocks...

13 Feb 2013

The past two weeks have seen our secretariat putting in place the building blocks of our programme for this year.  In the next few weeks we will be announcing our events programme for this year and starting to work with members on some key advocacy areas including the mid term review of the Europe 2020 strategy, the implementation of the new structural funds and the 2014 European Semester.  In each of these areas we are building on work already carried out by our members in previous years but also bringing in new elements this year.  We want to have a stronger evidence base to our work and so will be working with members to get more data on your work and more examples of where sustainable change has been achieved.  We want to look at how social services are financed in your country and give examples of good and bad practice in this area and we want to develop our work on areas such as intra EU mobility, access to services for migrants, extreme destitution and long term care to name but a few.  Also this year we will start to work with members on youth inclusion, identifying how diaconal organisations are already working with marginalised young people and how we could do more.

This is all very ambitious and we will be expanding our staff team to be able to carry out these plans - that is one of the building blocks we are putting in place this week - but the other building block important to our members is funding.  That is why we will be having a capacity building training for members in March on many of the new EU funds as well as providing briefings for members on how to use the new funds.  If you have not already signed up for the training please read more here and think if someone from your organisation could be participating.

Another building block has been the adoption of a policy paper on Social Enterprises for Social Inclusion that has been the fruit of work done through several workshops with members over the past years and a survey among our members last autumn, and a common briefing paper from Social Services Europe on the new Public Procurement directive.  Both initiatives are crucial to helping ensure the proper ecosystem and conditions for effective and impactful services for people and are essential building blocks for our work going forward.

Building blocks are important - and we hope that these few are helpful in building up your work with people from across our societies in Europe.

Have a good weekend

Heather  

 

 

 
Getting Involved

30 January 2014

This week our focus has been on what is called in EU speak 'stakeholder involvement' - what this really means is how our members and other NGO's take part in policy processes.  One of the big issues around this is the European Semester, the process by which member states co-ordinate their economic reform processes.  Part of the process is the submission of National Reform Programmes by each MS and the European Commission advises that these should be developed with the involvement of stakeholders at national level.  Stakeholders include social partners (trade unions, business associations) and civil society.  

The reality however is that many of our members do not get access to the consultative process or where they do they process is very poorly organised or tokenistic.  This past week our Austrian member was invited to participate in such a session.  Consultation turned into presentation and it was made clear that although some stakeholders could contribute and comment on the NRP not for profit organisations could not.  This is not stakeholder involvement.  Nor is stakeholder involvement about civil society and others 'selling' EU policies to a skeptical european public as was recently stated by the European Commission.  Stakeholder involvement should have the aim of working together to develop the best possible policies with the highest impact and sustainability of effect.  Stakeholder involvement needs to be structured and taken seriously for that aim to be realised.

 This is the message we gave in the European Parliament yesterday and a breakfast meeting co-organised with Jean Lambert MEP and Marije Corniellison MEP and CESI (independent trade unions). We discussed the need for a simpler process, an accessible process and a clearly defined process and guidelines for member states on the aims and methodologies of stakeholder involvement.  Unfortunately the European Commission is resisting this call but we hope that by sharing more examples of good and bad practice in stakeholder involvement from our members we can break down this resistance.

have a good weekend

Heather

 

 
Editorial: Supporting Social Enterprise?

23 January 2014

At the end of last week Heather and I, as well as a number of Eurodiaconia members, took part in a large conference in Strasbourg examining the role that social enterprise plays in society and how to better support it. We were hopeful that outcomes would include actions supporting all types of social enterprises, including not-for-profit social service providers. We also hoped that discussions would examine the role of public authorities, and not just focus on private finance. Finally, we thought that the interest in social enterprise could help promote interest in the social dimension of EU policies.

Many useful proposals were made during the conference that would support all types of social enterprise but we were disappointed to see that the final declaration only makes general recommendations. We will work with partners to ensure that other actions are also put into place, such as those to be found in our forthcoming paper on social enterprise.

We did hear some speakers stress the responsibility of public authorities; for example French Minister for the Social Economy Benoit Hamon stated that social enterprise is not there to replace social policy. However, it often seemed as though social enterprise was the key to solving all societal challenges, and discussions often focused on social enterprises that don't need public support.

Three EU Commissioners argued for the need to re-balance economic and social policies, but some wondered whether this is because the elections are approaching, or that they thought that was what the audience wanted to hear. Considering the approach of the Commission regarding the negative social impact of economic decisions we were surprised to hear that all of them were arguing so strongly for this rebalance. But we could see it positively, and hope for a change in direction! The need to move beyond GDP as the main measurement for economic growth came up on numerous occasions as a way to help this rebalance; we hope that this will challenge the Commission to pick this topic back up, as Eurodiaconia has called for in the past.

Finally some information on an issue that I think will be increasingly important for not-for-profit social and health care providers, social impact measurement. In a workshop in Strasbourg an EU expert group presented a framework for measurement that they have developed. Key issues that Eurodiaconia had highlighted such as ensuring any model doesn't overburden an enterprise and that its indicators help an organisation to realise its mission were stressed. The expert group is open to hear feedback on the draft framework which will be used in some EU funding programmes. You can find their more information and their report here.  Eurodiaconia will facilitate mutual learning and capacity building with members on social impact measurement in 2014: watch this space!

I wish you an enjoyable weeked,

Laura

 
Behind and beyond the rhetoric on migration

This week I had the opportunity to speak to the London Churches Refugee Network, who were interested to gain a wider perspective on aspects of migration across Europe. I was able to give a number of examples of projects from Eurodiaconia members working with migrants as well as give some insight into the question of free movement in the EU, a hot topic in the UK at the moment, although certainly not only in the UK. I also challenged listeners to be more vocal to counter negative rhetoric about migration by using the facts to debunk popular myths that we often hear for example about welfare tourism (for example data from the latest Commission report which gives evidence that EU mobile citizens are more likely to be in employment and do not use welfare benefits more intensively that the hosts nationals!)

I also challenged the network to build strong networks of cooperation across borders. I believe churches and diaconal organisations have a vital role to play as agents of inclusion and hospitality, and can promote social cohesion in increasingly diverse societies in Europe. But we also have a responsibility to “drive the spokes into the wheels of injustice” by advocating for the justice and fair treatment of all migrants.

Laura and Heather have been in Strasbourg this week at a Congress on social entrepreneurship. The event aimed to take stock of the Social Business Initiative as well as identify the future priorities for action and where the EU could add value and support the scaling-up of social entrepreneurship. Please contact Laura of Heather for more on this event…

Have a lovely weekend!

Catherine

 
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