• 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, September 17, 2014
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Editorial
Read up on what has been happening this week on our weekly editorial.

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

 
Happy New Year!

10 January 2014

Starting a new year does not mean that we leave behind the many issues of the previous year - but it can give us an opportunity to approach them with a new vigour.  Next week the European Parliament will vote on a resolution to call on on the European Commission to adopt and implement a European strategy to combat homelessness.  This is not the first time that the parliament has asked for such a strategy but as yet the European Commission have not delivered on their request.  Eurodiaconia is working with colleagues in FEANTSA to ensure that the final resolutation reflects the experience of our members.  If you have contacts with MEP's please encourage them to vote in favour next week.  You can have more information from Clotilde in our office.  Next week will also see a major conference on Social Entrepreneurship with over 1000 actors in social business, entrepreneurship and not for profit services gathering together to see how to shape future policies to support social business.  I have been invited to speak about the ways in which social innovation can be developed to have an impact on poverty and exclusion and a number of our members will also be involved in the conference.

 Finally, most of us can't have failed to see in the media the various reporting on the issues of intra-EU mobility and statements from various member states of the impact of mobility on social protection systems.  This is an issue that Eurodiaconia has been working on for the past two years and there are already several innovative projects happening that seek to support mobile EU citizens access work and escape destitution.  This week we have been talking with partners about the possibility of developing a project to extend our work in this area.  If this is something you are interesting in please contact Catherine in the office.

A new year, some new projects, some old projects - but a renewed enthusiasm to fight for social justice and new possibilities for partnership.

have a good weekend

Heather

 

 
This Year!

19 December 2013

We are nearly at the end of the year and we are finalising the last few things before the Christmas break.  It has been an eventful year at Eurodiaconia with more members joining the network, more members involved in policy and praxis exchanges and ongoing recognition of our work from a wide variety of partners and external stakeholders.

At the same time it has been a challenging year.  The impact of a focus on economic  growth over societal well-being continues to grow and more and more people find themselves in situations of precarity.  The services our members provide are under increasing pressure to reduce costs while retaining quality and reach and over all the future cohesion of our societies is under threat.  We see increasingly negative rhetoric around migrant, mobile EU citizens and people who access social assistance with ‘burden’ and ‘taking advantage’ being used far too often and incorrectly.  By the end of 2014 we have seen more punitive approaches to people who are at risk of or experiencing poverty in the guise of ‘activation’ which does not help social cohesion either.

But I always end each year with hope because I know that our members are working hard all across Europe, from Armenia to Iceland,  to ensure that burdens are lifted, that cohesion is built, that punishment is reprieved and that dignity is restored.  They do that work and we share that work because of the hope that was born in a stable, in the Middle East, over 2000 years ago.  It is that hope that gives me hope that we will meet the challenges and contribute to the solutions that are needed.

Thank you for all your support and contribution to Eurodiaconia in 2013 and thank you to all our members for the hope you bring to people across Europe.

Have a merry Christmas and a hopeful New Year.

Heather

 
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