This has been the busiest week of the year – but what a fantastic one! This editorial is longer than usual but it is worth reading to the end!
This week we had the Annual Convention of the European Platform Against Poverty and it was an opportunity to discuss both the strategies and actions that are needed to fight poverty and exclusion in Europe. Gothenburg City Mission was able to present their project on supporting migrants and members from Hungary and Finland also participated. We also ran a workshop at the convention on the link between debt and homelessness with Feantsa and our members from Kerk in Actie and the YMCA Social Work from Denmark presented their work on household overindebtedness.
Migration was the theme of the hearing we held in the European Parliament this week and in particular how social services assist the integration of migrants. Once again we gave the opportunity for members from Hungary, the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway to share their perspectives in working with documented and undocumented migrants. Nadja Hirsch MEP hosted the seminar and commented that diaconal work is crucial in supporting migrants’ access the employment market. Following the seminar we held the presentation ceremony for the 2013 Eurodiaconia Award and opened an exhibition that has been running in the parliament all this week, showcasing members work with migrants and launching our latest publication on migration and services. We were pleased to welcome many friends of Eurodiaconia to the reception which was hosted by Cecilia Wikstrom MEP.
If this was not enough, we were also delighted to have a study visit from the Danish Diaconal Council this week who wanted to learn more about the social policies of the EU and how they could be engaged from a national level. They also discussed how to be more involved in Eurodiaconia. After three days they went home with lots of ideas and will now look at how to put it into action. We also welcomed a small group from the Church of Finland who were also on a study visit to Brussels and were particularly interested in communications and identity issues.
And for the last two days our Marginalisation and Exclusion network has been meeting in the Netherlands to look at different strategies and actions to support overindebted households.
Also, yesterday, final agreement was reached on the proposal for the a European Fund for the Most Deprived – often known as food aid. Eurodiaconia has been working on this legislation for the last 18 months and we are delighted that there is finally a new programme that can be used by members who run food banks or who want to provide other social inclusion measures for the most deprived in our communities. We will give information on how to access this fund in the coming weeks.
This week has really been an illustration on how we have been trying to put our members at the heart of all we do as Eurodiaconia and make the links between actions and policies.
And finally… many of you will know that we have been waiting to hear from the European Commission about our funding for the next four years and I am pleased to say that we found out this week that we have been successful! We are incredibly grateful to the PROGRESS programme of the European Commission for their continued support for Eurodiaconia and we will be finalising the details of the new grant agreement in the coming weeks.
So, that was the busiest week of the year but an incredibly motivating and inspiring week that will lead us to a very strong future.
Have a good weekend!