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On 1 April 2022, we held the 2021 ceremony of the European Social Services Awards against the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and yet another crisis -the arrival of Ukrainian refugees, to neighbouring European countries, many of them mothers with children.

The common thread running through all the 2021 Awards finalists was resilience – recognising the central role of public social services in responding to the pandemic and the post-Covid-19 recovery; and highlighting the need to strengthen public social services to improve their preparedness for future crises. The theme is more pertinent than ever as social services across Europe, barely emerging from the pandemic, have been called into action once again to respond to the humanitarian crisis as millions of Ukrainians flee the invasion of their country.

The Awards showcased projects, teams and organisations that have put people using services, residents, or clients at their heart. An audience of 90 guests, including applicants, shortlisted candidates, judges, and partners joined our ceremony in Brussels to celebrate resilience in social services. Opening the event, guest speaker Arancha Martinez who was a winner of the European Women Innovators Awards, spoke of hope and how these projects represented for her future hope.

At a very special afternoon, all the winners of the second edition of the European Social Services Awards were revealed. We were impressed to learn about emergency response programmes to address loneliness of older people during the Covid-19 pandemic; intergenerational programmes for youth supporting older people; integrated housing, mobile case management and social recovery approaches to ending homelessness; research with social workers during the pandemic; single window platforms for benefits and social services; and integrated personalised programmes for people with disabilities.

We are now launching the publication that brings together their innovative and fresh ways of promoting resilient social services, and the stories of how they continued to deliver care in the community despite the many challenges they faced. You can read the publication here.