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The European Social Services Awards (ESSA) celebrate and recognise successful approaches of social services teams across Europe. By providing a platform for social services to share best practices with peers across Europe, The European Social Network (ESN) seeks to inspire organisations and professionals to continue their important work developing and implementing innovative projects that ensure quality social services. 

If the 2023 ESSA’s are anything to go by, the Awards are more than fulfilling their mission.

Social services are central to creating a caring, inclusive, and productive society, especially during times of crisis. Under last year’s ESSA’s theme, Promoting Person-centred Care, the Awards recognised organisations and individuals that were rethinking their services to provide care centred around the person and which demonstrated coordination between services and professionals to enable people to live independent lives and be fully included in their communities.

With more than 100 applications received in 2023, the ESSA Publication spotlights the shortlisted and winning projects, for each of the six categories. It offers a glimpse into the projects and accomplishments of all shortlisted and winning projects and is a source of inspiration for all people working in the social services sector. 

The person-centred theme was reflected across all the projects. One example was in the Workforce Support category from The Health Information and Quality Authority in Ireland. The entry demonstrated how they developed a free online learning course to support people using social services to help them advocate for themselves. Similarly, the Regional Centre for Social Policy in Torun, Poland was shortlisted in the Digital Transformation category with a project focused on providing tailored support to older people with the help of bracelets equipped with sensors. 

A collective effort to better address societal challenges 

The winners and shortlisted projects of the 2023 ESSA highlighted the power of sharing successful practices and learning from other organisations across Europe in a collaborative environment. 

“Receiving this Award signifies the acknowledgment of our dedicated efforts in fostering dialogue, empowering marginalised groups, and promoting community development. This recognition not only boosts morale but also brings a sense of pride and accomplishment to our organisation”. – City of Osijek, Croatia, winner of the Excellence in Cities category with the project “Social Atelier”. The response from delegates representing the City of Osijek clearly emphasises the mission of the Awards. 

Among the projects shortlisted under the Collaborative Practice category, was the BRUS project. This underlined the joint efforts of several Danish municipalities to offer support to children and young people growing up in families with alcohol or drug problems. Similarly, the City of Warsaw in Poland joined forces with NGOs to implement accessible aid programmes tailored to the individual needs of Ukrainian refugees. 

Shaping Future Social Services 

The annual Awards Ceremony has brought together more than 500 participants over the years, and ESN is committed to continuing to work to reach a wider international community to empower people and communities. “The whole awards experience has been an uplifting one. To be in a space with so many people dedicated to improving lives and caring for vulnerable people has been both heartwarming and inspiring.” – Rural Coffee Caravan, United Kingdom, winner of the Service Delivery category with the project “Coffee and the Community: Tackling Rural Isolation”.

 “These Awards serve as a tribute to excellence and innovation in the field of social services, honoring the tireless efforts of organizations and individuals who are dedicated to enhancing the wellbeing of our communities.’’ – Alfonso Lara Montero, ESN’s Chief Executive Officer

ESN is committed to continue working to promote Promoting Person-centred Care, as proven by the next edition of the European Social Services Conference which will take place in Antwerp, Belgium, between 26-28 June 2024, on the theme of Co-creating Future Social Services. 

The theme for the 6th edition of the Awards will be launched in March 2024. Would you like to receive the latest updates about the upcoming edition? Sign up for the ESSA newsletter to ensure the valuable work of your organisation is recognised.