Ring of hands giving a teamwork theme

This week I was asked to chair a session at a conference in The Hague on social services. The session was on how local authorities have and are responding to the increased number of refugees coming to Europe, and I was asked to chair it due to Eurodiaconia’s work on this topic. In many ways, it was like listening to members of Eurodiaconia. Many of the same challenges were mentioned, the activities and policies proposed for integration were often NGO inspired or led, and there was a real sense that there must be sustainable and resourced partnerships between NGOs and local authorities if real integration and inclusion is to happen. Such similarities inspired me to start thinking about how we bring the perspective of local authorities into our discussions in Eurodiaconia. Something to think about over the summer!

But, I was also very proud of what our members do (once again!). I was chatting with an Alderwoman from the Netherlands who was telling me that among the ‘offers’ they make to refugees was helping them with their finances, and that they worked with a great project called Schuldhulpmaatje (Debt Aid Buddies) – which some of you may know is connected to our Dutch member Kerk In Actie. I know the project is great (you can read more about it here) but it was a pleasure to hear the same thing from a local politician! If that was not enough, as I was standing outside the train station to come back to Brussels a tram passed me with a massive advert for Schuldhulpmaatje all down one side…

Diaconal work does make an impact and it is really encouraging to see that recognised by our partners and by politicians alike…and to see it trundling down the streets of a capital city!

Have a good weekend