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No one can be left behind

No one can be left behind

Olli Holmström (photo: mk)

Interview with Chairperson of the Eurodiaconia Board rev. Olli Holmström about the importance of Eurodiaconia, its cooperation with member organizations, contribution to European social policy and current challenges


Michał Karski: Eurodiaconia received 2021 Diaconia Poland “Good Samaritan” Award for an active care for vulnerable people by developing policy papers, influencing current social discussion in Europe and building space for an international cooperation. What does this award mean to Eurodiaconia?

Olli Holmström: We were deeply honoured to receive the Good Samaritan award from Diaconia Poland. It’s a testament to the long-term work of Eurodiaconia and a fantastic reminder of the importance of the strong cooperation and collaboration that exists between Eurodiaconia and its member organisations. After a long and challenging 18-months, we’re incredibly blessed to receive this award and to have the affirmation that our work really does matter.

How important is the cooperation of the member organizations within Eurodiaconia?

Eurodiaconia would not exist without its members. Everything we do – from producing Policy Papers to influence decision-makers to our small and large-scale events – it’s all led by and in collaboration with our members and the invaluable work they’re doing on-the-ground. All of our members are committed to achieving a socially just and fairer Europe and we firmly believe that through our continued cooperation, we’ll achieve just that.

In your acceptance speech during Ubi Caritas Gala you said, that people of faith cannot be afraid to look at our societies and respond to the needs around us and should speak out about injustice, improve societies, reduce poverty and restore justice. What can Eurodiaconia and its member organizations contribute to European social policy?

I believe that together we can make a huge contribution to developing European social policy through our professional experience, practical common sense and through widening our understanding of daily life for some of our most vulnerable groups. At Eurodiaconia, we have a strong evidence base for our influence upon European social policy at an institutional level and our expertise continues to grow through our fantastic community of members.

What are currently main challenges for the charitable and aid organizations in Europe?

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed unprecedented challenges on all of us – but disproportionately on the most vulnerable groups in our society – many of whom were already experiencing unparalleled levels of poverty and inequality prior to the crisis. This has made our work at the EU level even more challenging because it’s now our job to ensure that our EU institutions are progressing a post-covid recovery agenda that is representative and inclusive of those who are most vulnerable. The post-covid agenda must prioritise social investment and recovery to ensure that we look to a future EU where absolutely no one is left behind.


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