IMG_8214Last week, Eurodiaconia had the honour of awarding two members, Stadsmissionen and Kofoeds Skole, with the 2015 Eurodiaconia Award.

The ceremony was truly a wonderful moment to celebrate their and everybody’s efforts in tackling poverty and social exclusion across Europe, as well as a chance to meet up with old Eurodiaconia friends once again. It was hosted in the European Parliament here in Brussels and attracted a large number of MEPs, supporters, and social service providers.

The Eurodiaconia Award was established in 2007 to recognise the best practices in diaconal social work. The Award aims to shed light on the innovative and the enterprising role of the diaconal organisations as well as encouraging good practice sharing across Europe, and building connections among all the stakeholders.

Presenting the Award in the very heart of Europe has been for Eurodiaconia not only a way to publicly recognise our two member’s achievements, but also a significant moment to honor all the staff and volunteers who have shown outstanding commitment with a spirit of sacrifice and Christian service.  People without whom diaconal organisations in our countries would be unable to run.

The representatives from Stadsmissionen and Kofoeds Skole collecting the prize had the chance to discuss the importance of their projects and their daily fight for social justice and equality in their countries. Eurodiaconia believes that gathering and sharing experiences is a very powerful means of encouragement for all of us.

The Kofoed’s School combines humanitarian assistance and emergency initiatives to basic social work, counselling, training and education aimed to promote social inclusion in Denmark. It aims to provide individuals experiencing long-term unemployment and social isolation with a safe environment and to empower them through relevant social and vocational skills. Relying on a network of social workers, psychologists and other professionals, the School has proved very successful in helping its students increase their self-respect, improve their physical and mental health and adopt a positive mindset about the future.

Unga Station is a holistic service of Stockholms Stadsmission, aimed at supporting children and adolescents (ages 0-20) which are at risk of social exclusion in Sweden. The service is specifically tailored around their varied needs, wishes, experiences and competencies. The service is open to both legal residents and undocumented migrants. It is free of charge for all service users, who do not require a referral and may choose to remain anonymous. Apart from drop-in services, Unga Station does advocacy work, offers legal and financial advice, and provides counselling sessions.

An exciting component of the event was the exhibition, which was organised parallel to the event. This year it focused on integrated projects and services that promote social inclusion by offering holistic support to vulnerable individuals. It was run in one of the busiest parts of the European Parliament for an entire week, and consisted of photos and personal testimonies from members.

The exhibition is meant to be a positive feedback from diaconal organisations as well as a showcase for the innovative ways in which our members are meeting their beneficiaries’ diverse needs.

Events such the 2015 Eurodiaconia Award remind all of us how important our work is and they give us the hope that a fairer society is not only possible but also under construction.

Find out more about Kofoeds Skole here. (DA) (EN)

Find out more about Unga Station here. (SE)