Recently I was part of a discussion on how to bring approaches on poverty and exclusion in the global south together with similar approaches in the global north. The framework of UN Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the European Pillar of Social Rights, gives an opportunity to see poverty in its context-specific forms while at the same time analysing the similar causes. Such causes include inequality, unbalanced distribution of wealth, conflict and economic crisis and discriminatory practices. For me, the conversation was encouraging as we identified common areas of working where transformative change was put at the heart of local communities where experts by experience take charge of their own strategies to improve inclusion and participation. However, where I saw a keen lack was in the area of advocacy for structural and systemic change in policies and programmes. Whereas in Europe this is something that we have long experience of it is not the same everywhere.

The European Pillar of Social Rights and the involvement of civil society, as well as other stakeholders in its development, has been a good example of how advocacy can work for the common good. Furthermore, our current work on aligning the SDG’s with the Pillar of Social Rights shows how advocacy has a place in the global agenda. We have had fantastic responses from the European institutions on our recent policy proposals to achieve this alignment and can see a real willingness to achieve coherence.

We should not be afraid of advocacy. The voice of our members and users is legitimate, comes from experience and is presented constructively. There is a willingness to engage and to hear what we have to say and at times we can see a real impactful change from those discussions. If we do not speak out, if we do not propose new approaches to policy, if we do not protest at injustice and exclusion, who does?  We are proud to combine advocacy and praxis and underpin that with our diaconal identity. Doing so is essential to achieve our vision of a just society where no one is excluded or marginalised. As we go into the summer break, I am inspired to put even more effort into this work and create more partnerships with institutional and civil society stakeholders to achieve that vision. I hope you are too – together we are stronger!

Have a great summer,