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On 25 and 26 October, ESN is organising a seminar in Ljubljana (SI) during the Slovenian Presidency of the European Council. At this seminar, we will explore how to build resilient social services that are better prepared to provide continuity of care for those with whom they work. During the seminar, we will hear from representatives of regional and local public social services, academics and European and national public officials, who will share their knowledge and experience in the following themes:

  • What resilience means for social services
  • Good practices of resilience and crisis preparedness strategies
  • Resources needed for implementing resilience, with perspectives from EU, national and regional levels
  • Adapting services and the workforce to digital ways of working
  • Future resilient and crisis-prepared social services

Here you will find the programme:

11:30 AM – 13:15 PM CET | Registration open

 Lunch served from 12:30 – 13.15

13:30 PM – 14:00 PM CET | Welcome plenary 

  • Christian Fillet - Chair, European Social Network
  • Cveto Ursic - State Secretary, Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities
  • Helena Bezjak Burjak - Chair, Association of Centres for Social Work, Slovenia

14:00 PM – 15:20 PM CET | Taking stock of resilience in social services

When a crisis strikes social services are greatly impacted. An economic crisis leads to increased need for support while financial resources may decrease at the same time. During the Covid-19 crisis, social services were put under additional pressure, as they also had to adapt their regular way of working to prevent the spread of the virus. Under such circumstances, social services can struggle to provide the quality of care that they strive for to the vulnerable populations they work with. This is why it is important to put in place strategies to help social services be more resilient and better prepared for future crises.

How can resilience as a concept help social services to plan and continue to deliver quality care and support?

Moderator: Alfonso Lara Montero - Chief Executive Officer, European Social Network

  • Erio Ziglio - Honorary Professor, Health University of Applied Sciences Tyrol, Austria
  • Vlad Grigoraș, Senior Social Protection Specialist
  • Manuela Sofia Stănculescu, Senior Social Protection Specialist, World Bank
  • Ana Buñuel Heras - Advisor for Families, Equality and Social Welfare, Madrid City Council, Spain

15:20 PM – 15:35 PM CET | Networking and coffee break 

15:35 PM – 16:45 PM CET | Crisis preparedness and resilience strategies across Europe

Presentations of over-arching crisis preparedness and resilience strategies in key aspects of social services, followed by interactive discussion.

Moderator: Elona Bokshi - Policy Manager, European Social Network

  • Joanna MacDonald - Deputy Chief Social Work Adviser, Government of Scotland
  • Zorana Uzelac Bošnjak - Assistant Head of Social Policy in the City Office for Social Protection and Persons with Disabilities, City of Zagreb, Croatia
  • Anna Maria Vella - Clinical Chair of SEDQA, FSWS, Malta
  • Jim Thomas - Head of Workforce Capacity and Transformation, Skills for Care, United Kingdom

16:45 PM – 17:00 PM CET | Networking break 

17:00 PM – 18:00 PM CET | Resources needed for creating resilience 

Without the appropriate funding, any recovery and resilience strategy cannot be implemented. The purpose of the Recovery and Resilience Facility set up by the European Union is to support investments and reforms that will have a lasting, positive impact on the economy and society. Will the Recovery and Resilience Facility be the key funding resource to help build more resilient social services?

As more and more National Recovery and Resilience Plans are being approved and pre-financing distributed, we would like to explore how these plans will be used to ensure access to social services in times of crisis and beyond.

This session will bring together speakers from the European and national level to discuss how these National Plans will be implemented and whether the allocated funds will be enough to create sustainable and resilient social services.

Moderator: Elena Sánchez Nicolás - Journalist, EUobserver

  • Maria Teresa Fabregas Fernandez - Director, Recovery & Resilience Taskforce, European Commission
  • Andrej Grdiša - Director-General, Directorate for older persons and deinstitutionalisation, Slovenia
  • Patricia Bezunartea Barrio - General Director of Family Diversity and Social Services, Secretary of State for Social Rights of the Ministry of Social Rights and Agenda 2030, Spain
  • Virginie Lasserre - Director-General, Ministry of Solidarity and Health, France

18:00 PM – 18:45 PM CET | ESN Information Session for Slovenian Social Services

19:45 PM | Dinner 

Restaurant Šestica

Slovenska cesta 40, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

09:00 AM – 09:30 AM CET | Introduction 

  • Alfonso Lara-Montero - CEO, European Social Network
  • Presentation of the Organisational Resilience Toolkit
    Dr Louise Grant - University of Bedfordshire
    Professor Gail Kinman - Birkbeck University of London, UK

09:30 AM – 10:30 AM CET | Lets go digital

Crisis can also be a catalyst for change. The Covid-19 crisis has led many social services to adapt to digital forms of working. Speakers will explore how digital tools can be harnessed to provide continuing quality care and services as well as ways to ensure that the workforce are both supported to use those technologies and involved in the changes as they happen.

Moderator: Elena Sánchez Nicolás - Journalist, EUobserver

  • Alfonso Lara Montero, Chief Executive Officer, European Social Network
  • Graham Owen - Board member, Swedish Association of Social Services Directors, Sweden
  • Javier Presa - Head of Services and Information Systems, Social Policies; Regional Government of Andalucía
  • Raul Ruggia-Frick - Director of Social Security Development Branch, International Social
    Security Association, Switzerland

10:30 AM – 11:15 AM CET | Interactive discussion: key points for a social services resilience strategy

Based on their own experience delegates will discuss key characteristics of resilient social services and what politics at different levels can do to facilitate resilience throughout the sector.

For this session, delegates will be divided into groups of no more than 6 with a pre-assigned person responsible for moderating the small group discussion.

The outcomes of these discussions will inform our upcoming working groups as part of ESN’s multi-annual working programme.

11:15 AM – 11:45 AM CET | Networking and coffee break  

11:45 AM – 13:00 PM CET | Building back better towards a resilient future

The closing session of the seminar will bring together representatives from the EP, research, public authorities and people using social services to discuss the future of resilience planning for social services.

Moderator: Alfonso Lara Montero - Chief Executive Officer, European Social Network

  • Milan Brglez - MEP, Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, European Parliament
  • Manuela Sofia Stănculescu - Senior Social Protection Specialist, World Bank
  • Simon Williams - Director of Social Care Improvement, Local Government Association, United Kingdom
  • Hans Dubois - Research Manager, Eurofound
  • Goran Kustura - Secretary-general, National Council of Disabled People's Associations of Slovenia
  • Barbara Kobal - Vice-President, Social Chamber of Slovenia

13:00 PM CET | Lunch and Departures

If you have any questions about ESN’s seminar on social services resilience and care continuity, please contact Victor de Vries at