This week I had the pleasure of joining the Salvation Army Belgium at their leaders retreat. Bringing together church leaders and social service leaders from across Belgium they were discussing how their work is developing and the challenges and opportunities they face. I shared with them examples of members work across Europe and one of the questions they asked me what how members find funding for their services and projects.

We are really pleased that this week we have launched our first briefing on EU funding that can be used to assist migrants, asylum seekers and refugees. You can find the document here. I also had the opportunity to tell them about the work Eurodiaconia is doing and reflect a little on the concepts of hope and dignity; what they mean in our political context and what they mean for our diaconal work – all very positive – but sometimes reality is shocking. On the way back to the train station one of the local leaders showed me which buildings were used by homeless people for shelter – too many of them.

But he then told me that the city do not want to build a new homeless shelter because the city does not want to admit they have a growing number of homeless people. So, dignity and hope are crushed by pride and denial. Of course the Salvation Army in Belgium will continue to do what they can with their members, staff and volunteers – but it is just as well that they, as all our diaconal colleagues, have hope that cannot be crushed when faced with such ridiculous reasons as to why not to ensure peoples’ dignity. If we want to ensure dignity then we need to ensure that misplaced pride has no place in structural and political decisions.

Have a good weekend,