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 The European Social Network (ESN) recently hosted a national event for Greece, in the framework of the Social Services HelpDesk project, with ESN members: the Hellenic Agency for Local Governance and Local Development (EETAA) and the social administration lab of West Attica University (UWA).

ESN’s CEO, Alfonso Lara Montero, highlighted at the event opening the importance of addressing some key challenges in Greece’s social welfare in areas related to the deinstitutionalisation of community care for mental health, disability, and the promotion of family-based services for children.

Cristiana Continescu, Deputy Head of Unit for Greece and Cyprus at the European Commission underlined that “€11.3 billion has been granted to improve access and modernise services, social protection for children and disadvantaged groups in the European Social Fund+. Also, the Recovery and Resilience Fund and the European Regional Development Fund will provide complementary financing for improvements in infrastructure.”

The event illustrated the significant institutional, organisational and financial challenges of the Greek model of social care, which must be addressed to be able to maximise the use of relevant EU initiatives. Fotini Marini, Coordinator of the Social Welfare and Integration Unit at UWA said “the Greek model of social care must move beyond its narrow welfare framework. It is not just about fighting poverty and supporting people with insufficient resources but reaching out to wider population groups. This is what we wish to see highlighted with greater intensity, as our national investment priority”.

As in other EU countries, Greece is also looking at an immediate formation of a new human-centred public model of care that will ensure access to adequate, affordable and sustainable social services. The country has already set the target of closing all children’s residential facilities by 2030.

All the information and views presented during this event, together with material collected from a follow-up survey will be used to design and create tools to support managing authorities, intermediate bodies, public authorities with responsibility for social services and providers in accessing and managing more efficiently EU funds.

This event was an important first step in the implementation of the Helpdesk project in Greece, enabling a discussion around the most pressing needs, challenges and complexities of the national social care system and underlined how existing EU funding opportunities can assist in supporting the sector’s development and modernisation. ESN will be there to support this process.