(Brussels, 15 November 2012) - The social consequences of the economic crisis will be discussed at a European conference which will take place in Brussels on Thursday 15 November. At the meeting on "Social Care in Times of Crisis”, representatives of EU institutions, governments and civil society organisations will discuss the effects of the economic and financial crisis on millions of citizens throughout the European Union. During the conference, key providers of support and social care will discuss how they respond to growing needs, and how to prepare for coming years with an increasing demand on social services and declining resources.
The meeting is organised by the Red Cross EU Office. "Across Europe we are following with great interest the work of EU policy makers responding to the ongoing crisis. Red Cross workers experience on a daily basis the dramatic effects of the crisis on vulnerable people. We are very concerned about the impact on the well-being of citizens across Europe who are having to cope with a loss of jobs, a loss of security and cuts in public spending and public services” says Leon Prop, Director of the Red Cross EU office.
The conference will also look at the social dimension of policy making and decision making at European, national and local level. László Andor, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion and Staffan Nilsson, President of the European Economic and Social Committee willinform participants about EU efforts and strategies to promote adequate care and support for people in need.
The conference will address key issues of concern, such as the provision of social services and care for vulnerable groups living in isolation. Additionally, it will look at new ways of sustaining services in the social sector and the conditions necessary to promote innovative ways of providing care.
"There is a need to develop concepts of care in response to an increasing inequality gap, societal changes and austerity measures”, says Conny Reuter, President of the Social Platform. "Our recommendations show that care policies and services are not a cost, as generally perceived, but are a social investment for the sustainability of European societies and an under- exploited source of employment.”
Furthermore, "the idea of a "social contract” is under pressure due to a narrowing of the definition of social rights,” says Heather Roy, Secretary General of Eurodiaconia. She highlights the threat to social and economic rights as a result of barriers to access to health or social care. "Our goal must be the right to live in dignity and we need a long term perspective of investment in our sector that enables us to realise those rights”.
Finally, Ingela Holmertz, National Director of the Swedish Red Cross notes the importance of combating social exclusion especially in times of crisis. "When the social and economic situation affects so many, it is important that we do not forget those who were already marginalized, the individuals and groups which we identified as the most vulnerable at that stage. Yet, behind all large numbers, every crisis is personal. No one should be left alone in a critical moment.”
The Irish Red Cross will be represented at the meeting by Secretary General, Donal Forde.