Last week I had the pleasure of joining youth workers, deacons and pastors in the Diocese of Vasteras in Sweden for a few days. They have been working on a project looking at how they can best support and serve young people in their parishes. After visiting similar work in Austria and the UK last week was an opportunity to reflect and share what had been learned and how it could be used in the future in their own context. I had the opportunity to share some examples of innovative diaconal youth work from elsewhere in Europe and reflect on current EU trends that can have an impact on our ability to do our work or indeed shape our work.  As I presented various projects I was once again struck by the huge diversity and expertise we have across our membership.  From integrated, youth centred projects in Finland to restoring classic cars in the Czech Republic, our membership shows how creative thinking, innovation and building partnerships can result in positive, impactful change in the lives of many young people facing exclusion and social risk.  The people I met were hugely committed to working with young people and finding ways to support transitions to adulthood, job seeking and educational attainment as well as providing space to belong and contribute to their communities.  There are challenges in doing so but I saw a determination to address those challenges rather than to be stopped by them.  As ever, I came back to Brussels inspired and encouraged!

That is why this year we want to encourage as many members as possible to attend our various meetings where we can provide space and opportunity for members to exchange and discuss their work.  We know that for many of our members that is the richness of being part of the Eurodiaconia network.  We often find as well that it is on the basis of the discussion on what we do that we learn what needs to change politically and so our network meetings and seminars this year will continue to identify and develop policy needs and responses.  The more we share the more we learn, the more we learn the more we can put forward concrete policy proposals for effective social policies.  Join us this year and share your work and learning.

Have a good weekend,