Responding to the needs of vulnerable groups, alleviating human suffering, and helping people to live in dignity and good physical and mental health – these are the guiding principles for National Red Cross Societies delivering social services in thousands of local communities across the EU. Their work in this area covers a wide range of activities; from providing food and material assistance to the most deprived, to supporting access to employment, as well as from organising social activities to address loneliness, to running shelters for homeless people and victims of domestic violence.
EU social policies and legislation impact service provision, for instance with guidance for Member States to improve the quality of social services, or to define the rules on public procurement. EU funding also plays a key role in reinforcing investments in infrastructure, such as schools, hospitals, prisons, or community housing. In this context, the Red Cross EU Office advocates the interests of service users and providers, as well as supporting our members to build partnerships and exchange good practices in the health and social care sector. We have also joined forces with seven other networks of non-for-profit service providers through Social Services Europe, where we alert EU policy makers to the challenges faced in the field and provide insight into the daily realities of delivering social services.