On June 10th and 11th, Eurodiaconia members gathered in Prague for our first in-person Roma Inclusion Network Meeting since the onset of the pandemic in 2020. The event was hosted by our member, Diakonie ECCB, and our focus was access to quality education & employment for Roma.

The first day was spent meeting and discussing together. We first heard from our hosts about the work they are doing in the Czech Republic to support Roma communities. We then heard from PAQ Research, a sociological research organisation focused on using research to develop more effective education and social policy. They presented their work on educational segregation and the impacts of social exclusion in the Czech Republic. We concluded the morning session with an EU policy update which laid out the EU strategic framework for Roma inclusion, the National Roma Strategic Frameworks and National Roma Contact Points.

In the afternoon, Eurodiaconia members presented the work that they are doing, in their own contexts, with regards access to education and access to employment. We heard many encouraging presentations and were inspired by the work being done across our network. We were also challenged about what it means to do work “for” or to do work “with” Roma communities. The day concluded with a session co-creating policy recommendations in which members worked together, using their experiences, to develop suggestions for EU level Roma inclusion policy.

On the second day, we visited Club Kruháč (Roundabout), a low-threshold social centre, in the town of Jablonec nad Nisou. The staff spoke to us about the work they do to support both Roma and non-Roma children, young people and familiesin the town through providing afterschool activities, tutoring, and accompaniment to navigate the educational system and access to employment. It was a good opportunity to see and hear first-hand from the social workers employed at the centre, several of whom were Roma, about the positive impact the centre has on the community.  Thank you to everyone who took part in the meeting and a special thank you to our hosts, Diakonie ECCB. We were encouraged and energised by this chance to gather in person and are looking forward to continuing our work together.