Summer is very much upon us now and many people are heading away on holidays to beaches around Europe. Yet this week again we are reminded that beaches are not always a place of relaxation but also a place of danger. More and more desperate people continue to try and reach Europe through the Mediterranean, arriving on beaches in shocking conditions and facing huge uncertainty about their short term and long term future and stability. Our members in both France and Italy are successfully implementing humanitarian corridors which provides safe and sustainable routes to Europe with support given for long terms social integration – a programme that tries to reduce the number of people for whom beaches are not a place of relaxation or safety.
There are also many families who won’t see beaches or any other holiday this summer. Statistics from one EU country shows that use of Food Banks has increased over the summer as young families struggle to provide three meals a day while their children are at home and anecdotal evidence suggests that the increased pressure on family budgets of trying to fund activities for children in the summer break is a worry for many.
As we know, children and young people can be disproportionately affected by poverty and many of our members around Europe increase their work with children and young people in the summer months. Diaconia and youth will be the subject of a special seminar held jointly by Eurodiaconia, EST Brazil, the Theological Faculty Matanzas and the Cuban Council of Churches in August, in Cuba. This seminar, generously supported by the Otto Per Mille Foundation of the Waldensian Church in Italy, of which our Italian member Waldensian Sinodal Commission is part of, will bring together 50 young people to examine how our approach to inclusion, integration and service can be developed for young people and meet the emerging needs of our societies. 12 people from Europe, led by our newly elected chairperson, Romana Belova, will share questions around youth inclusion in Europe and how our members find ways to express inclusion in many various circumstances.
There may be holidays for many this summer, but our members work across Europe, particularly with those for whom holidays bring more stress rather than rest, does not stop and in many ways intensifies. But for those of you who do have holidays we wish you rest and relaxation and a recharging of your batteries ready for more commitment to social justice in the coming months.
Have a good weekend,