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Covid-19 has underlined the need for resilient and robust social services  that ensure adequate support for the people who need them and our communities in general. Stability and continuity in the care sector, investment in innovation and the workforce are crucial for strong welfare systems able to respond to future crises. The European Social Services Awards (ESSA) were launched three years ago by the European Social Network (ESN) to recognise innovation and excellence in social services shining a spotlight on successful new approaches and the extraordinary ongoing work done by social services professionals. This year’s edition is held under the theme Building Resilience in Social Services with the aim to explore and visualise how social services have responded to the crisis to ensure continuity and quality of care for the populations with whom they work on a daily basis.

Let’s go digital

The Awards recognise efforts in five categories that highlight different aspects of the work that social services do. One of them focuses on the key role that technology tools can play in the success of the care and support provided by social services and rewards progress made in supporting social services to ensure their accessibility and availability for those who  need them. This category also rewards new practices that aim at improving the digital skills of the workforce and people using social services.

Make it accessible

The model of ’a single window’ is crucial to ease access to social services and ensure a more efficient system. DOST is a smart model for sustainable social services built in Azerbaijan to provide a centralised electronic system assuring an operational, transparent and coordinated provision of services based on people’s needs. During Covid-19, DOST had to be be flexible and re-shift activities to respond to the needs arising from the health crisis.

Make it digital

Lockdowns made it difficult and, in some cases, pretty much impossible to continue essential therapies and care for many vulnerable populations, like children with mental illnesses who need personalised and continuing care. Therefore, the 6th District level of Bucharest launched an online tool that puts into practice individualised intervention plans with concrete objectives and activities, adapted to each child as well, as support and guidance from professionals to parents and legal representatives. Besides preventing going back in progress made so far, this initiative strengthened relations between children, parents, and professionals.


Social services professionals are the driving force of the care sector. A common language, homogenisation of learning and career traceability are some of the challenges faced among employers and employees. The Scottish Social Services Council has provided a free smartphone-based service that allows social services workers to record and share evidence of their continuous professional learning in a convenient and simplified way that avoids duplication and facilitates tracking workforce performance.

Learn from colleagues from across Europe

There are many inspiring examples of how  the digitalisation of the social services sector   is empowering people using social services and professionals. Read about all the shortlisted projects here.