“I felt connected and felt the strength of our network working together at this time”

This was the feedback from one of our Eurodiaconia members following our online Annual General Meeting which took place last week. Even though we could not meet in person, we gathered together to connect and ensure our network keeps operating even in these difficult days. Being connected is important  – however we are able to do it – and drawing strength from each other – knowing that we are part of a community of diaconal actors across Europe, gives us encouragement and hope.

But not everyone can be connected right now. Our members tell us that they need IT equipment to ensure that people in their residential services can stay connected to their families while under confinement. Many support services such as those for addicts, for people struggling with their mental health or youth support programmes are also moving online but again new resources are needed to do so – not just materially but also in terms of training and pedagogy. Where will these resources come from?

Some of the most vulnerable in our societies, many of whom are the people diaconal organisations are used to meeting every day, are not getting the connections needed that can give them strength and hope in these difficult days. They must not be disconnected by neglect through government policies. We need the support of government at all levels to ensure that we continue to work with those who we have always worked with, to ensure that the blight of loneliness and despair does not increase and lead to even more difficult circumstances. That is why this week we met with the European Commission to call for increased resources to go to social care organisations to invest in connectivity – however it can be done – for everyone – so that in this increasingly connected world we do not disconnect those who are already struggling.

Being connected – sharing struggles and vulnerabilities as well as strengths and hopes is the mark of a healthy society – but our societies are only strong if we are all able to participate and get the support we need – when we need it  – even in times of crisis. Our members will continue to do everything they can to connect and build collective strength – but we hope that our institutional partners will help us be equipped to do so.

Have a good weekend,