Earlier this year I wrote in an editorial that the two questions ‘Who are you? And ‘What do you need?’ were signpost questions for Eurodiaconia this year and for me personally in my work. The importance of these questions has been shown during the COVID 19 pandemic.

Who are you? We are the social and health care providers struggling with a lack of equipment, reduced staffing levels, increasing demand on our services. But we are also social and health care providers committed to a dignified life, in seeing the whole person, to providing quality care at some of the most difficult moments in life. We are the emergency food banks, the integration services, the carers for children and vulnerable adults, the advocates for social justice and the people with experience in every corner of the European Union and beyond. We are the ones who know what is happening and who is being affected now and in the long term by this crisis.

What do we need? Our members tell us they need direct funding by the EU and by Member States that allows them to buy the equipment they need and pay for additional staff. They need to be treated fairly as part of the response to COVID-19. They need programmes already running and funding by sources such as the European Social Fund to continue and not be halted. They need support in handling the physical, mental and emotional impact of the crisis on their staff and volunteers. They need particularly vulnerable groups such as people in extreme poverty and homelessness to be given care that is relevant to their circumstances and for funders to recognise this. They need help with accessing the new Coronavirus Investment Fund and they need to be in partnership with Member States to ensure that money goes where it is most needed – and quickly.

This week the European Commission released a letter proclaiming its commitment to mitigating the social impact of the current crisis – and we applaud them for that – but it will only matter if it is matched with what our members need. Words are not enough – needs must be met, care organisations must be recognised. We know who the political leaders are – but do they know who we are and what we need? This will be our work in the coming weeks and as ever the Eurodiaconia network will be working together to ensure that needs are met and people and organisations are known.

Have a good weekend,