Accessibility, Articulation and Advocacy were the key words at this weeks Network Meeting for Communications Officers in Eurodiaconia. Building on best practice across the network and bringing in experts from institutions and partner organisations our members discussed how to use current and future communications methods to promote our message of social engagement and inclusion. One of the very interesting sessions was on combatting hate speech online and dealing with offline discrimination of vulnerable groups. Social Service providers are often the targets of such abuse, with questioning of why we support people in specific situations, ethnicity and belief. Looking at how the Council of Europe No hate Speech Movement is fighting this phenomenon gave our members insight as to how we can use our communications and actions to reject hate speech in all its forms.

Members also had the possibility to discuss how to best articulate their message in a crowded arena where echo chambers seem to dominate. As organisations with a specific values base, our message can sometimes be misinterpreted and at worst, ignored. Working with international journalists in the secular media our members were able to look at how best to present our message and work so that it did not only appear on the ‘religion’ pages.

Advocacy is much of our day to day work but are we using media and communications effectively in our work? That was the challenge outlined by our advocacy experts from the UK, Germany. Building on the experience of people on the margins and using services both organisations have developed highly effective advocacy actions that have reached all parts of society. Sharing their success and difficulties was both inspiring and motivating.

Our world is increasingly one of media and communications. It is increasingly lived online and so as Diaconia we must also ensure that our true news of inclusion, transformation and participation replaces the fake news of discrimination, hate and exclusion. To do this, we need to bring our advocacy and communications work even closer together. The last two days have shown that our members are very well equipped to do so.

Have a good weekend,