This week seventeen participants gathered in the southern Swedish town of Växjö for a Eurodiaconia study visit which focused on the implementation of the European Fund for aid to the most deprived (FEAD). Three Eurodiaconia member organisations are directly financed under this fund (Svenska Kyrkan from Sweden, Diakonie Deutschland from Germany and Kirkens Korshaer from Denmark), and many more benefit indirectly as aid distributors. This meeting focused on the Operational Programme II countries, that is to say those countries using the FEAD for social inclusion programs rather than for material support. That said, we discovered that OP I and OP II countries share the common objective of using basic goods or services as a bridge for trust building, leading ultimately to better social inclusion.

The visit to the Church of Sweden’s ‘Digniti Omnia’ project was very enriching for all as it enabled us to exchange and learn about how the FEAD specifically supports the most vulnerable thanks to its low threshold approach. This approach reduces the conditionality for access to services to a minimum, so that beneficiaries can come and take part in the project, whatever their background is, without registering or committing to anything. This approach is very useful to reach those who are often the most excluded such as the Roma, the homeless and destitute EU mobile citizens. The project showed that with time, these different groups also started to cooperate more. There is still room for real cohesion to be established between them, but a genuine improvement in cooperation and sharing was visible. Digniti Omnia created a place for encounters, and therefore for increased understanding, learning and tolerance, leading ultimately to improved inclusion.

At Eurodiaconia, we continue to be really inspired by our members’ work as well as thankful for the funding they receive. We have seen again how learning from each other’s experiences can help to build bridges and foster encounters, making a real difference to people’s lives. That’s why we are looking forward to continuing working together to exchange on the lessons learnt and the prospects for future cooperation for inclusion.

Have a good weekend,