The European Social Services Awards 

The annual European Social Services Awards (ESSA) recognises outstanding achievements in social services, shining a spotlight on successful new approaches and the extraordinary ongoing work done by public social services managers, funders, planners, providers, and deliverers of social services.

The Awards are a pioneer in bringing people from across Europe to celebrate social services’ achievements and the passion and dedication of those who work in social services to make a difference for the most vulnerable in our societies. Its aims are to:

🠮 Identify and promote best practices in social services excellent work done in the field across Europe
🠮 Facilitate peers to work with and support each other in improving their practice.


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Highlights from the 2022 European Social Services Awards

Find out more about previous editions of the European Social Services Awards 

Get involved!

Are you developing solutions for public authorities with responsibility for employment, education, health, housing, or social services? Why not be part of our European Social Services Awards?

Become a Partner

 Partner with the European Social Network and be part of our annual event celebrating outstanding achievements in social services

Testimonials from previous ESSA winners and finalists

“P.I.P.P.I. is a programme that involves researchers from the University of Padua, managers and civil servants from the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, and thousands of operators working in child protection welfare system in all 20 Italian Regions. The ESN award has been a prize for everyone involved and has helped us to strengthen the sense of belonging to an inter-institutional and inter-sectoral community such as ours. Having received an award at the European level was also a strong legitimation for professionals working in social services: it empowered their daily work with the most vulnerable children and families and motivated them to support the institutional and even political changes it requires.”

Paola Milani

Ph.D, Professore di Pedagogia Sociale e di Pedagogia delle Famiglie - Università di Padova, Italy
“The ESN awards were a great occasion to network, boost collaboration and grow together to encourage innovation in social care. It was very motivating to share our experience on a project identifying complex social needs. At the same time, it was very useful and energizing to learn about other valuable projects in this area and know the people working on them.”

Pilar Hilarión

Deputy Director - Avedis Donabedian Research Institute, Spain
“The Mentaur Group are immensely proud of having participated in the European Social Services Awards 2019. The event was brilliantly organised and offered valuable networking opportunities. The drive and engagement from all stakeholders before, during and after the event certainly went above and beyond our expectations. As winners in the category we were nominated for, the morale boost has also greatly contributed to ensure the continuous outstanding commitment of all our staff teams in supporting the people who use our services to achieve positive outcomes.”

Herculano Castro

Senior Group Operations Manager - Mentaur Group, United Kingdom
“The first edition of the ESN awards was a great opportunity to recognize excellence in Social Services and the extraordinary labour of social workers in Public Social Services throughout Europe. Specifically, for an entity like ours, the possibility of highlighting research work and evaluating joint labour in defence of the Welfare State.”

Laura L. Ruiz

Consejo General del Trabajo Social, Spain
The European Social Network plays a key role in supporting excellence and sharing lessons to deliverers of Social Services across Europe. The European Social Services Awards not only provides excellent networking opportunities but also gives organisations and nations like Scotland the opportunity to showcase what they have achieved.”

Lisa Baron-Broadhurst

Programme Director - Social Security Scotland
“The Municipality of Hafnarfjörður, Iceland was shortlisted last year at the European Social Services Awards 2019 for our project the Bridge. The Bridge is a collaborative effort aimed at integrating social services and schools at municipal level in Iceland. The aim is to improve the well-being and quality of life of our youngest citizens and their families. It was very inspiring and supportive for our work to get shortlisted for the ESN Awards. It put a spotlight on the social and educational system in our Municipality and it encouraged the professionals in our team. The ESN Awards Ceremony was impressive, enjoyable, and professionally organized. The ESN Awards is a valuable recognition. It supports and improves work done by those planning and delivering public social service and promotes innovation in social service.”

Rannveig Einarsdóttir

Municipality of Hafnarfjordur, Iceland
“The Municipality of Aarhus was nominated for the ESN innovation prize in 2019. It was a great experience for us and taking part in the process created awareness about our work both nationally and internationally. Creating innovation in the social and employment area is challenging, and there is a great need to highlight good ideas and projects that set new standards. The final event in Brussels was very well organized and gave us both insight and inspiration and the opportunity to network. Learning about and connecting with the state-of-the-art projects from other European countries has been very rewarding for us.”

Vibeke Jensen

Municipality of Aarhus, Denmark
The Karin Dom Foundation received a special award last year and it provided us with visibility in and out of Bulgaria that we did not expect. Many people voted for us and started to organize their communities to support us in a way that showed their gratitude for our work, which is priceless. In the end, that was the real award we received in 2019.”

Maya Doneva

CEO - Karin Dom Foundation, Bulgaria
“It was a real privilege to be able to attend and participate in the European Social Services awards in 2019. So much enthusiasm, participation and care was evident from our neighbours and friends across Europe who were  delivering wide and varied services to help and support those who need it most – thank you”

Peter Orr

Children and Families – Intensive Services, Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership, Scotland
“A memorable experience that continues to enhance our motivation to improve our social welfare services and delivery.”


Graziella Castillo

CAssistant Director - Foundation for Social Welfare Services, Malta
“The inaugural European Social Services Awards was a great event to be involved in, it was thought provoking and provided a vital platform and rare opportunity to hear first-hand from service providers about their innovative and life-changing work carried out across Europe.  Action for Children and our partners were deeply honoured to be recognised with the ‘Excellence’ award for our Serious Organised Crime Early Intervention Service. It was fantastic to share our work with such esteemed colleagues and a great acknowledgement for the hard and successful work undertaken by our service staff and those they support. The event was a very worthwhile experience, and we recommend others to get involved this year.”


Paul Carberry

Action for Children Director for Scotland
“It was a real pleasure to be part of the 19th edition of the European Social Services Awards in 2019. Innovation in social policy must be in the spotlight, especially when the continent is going through the consequences of the pandemic. I was delighted to explain the “Nelson Mandela” initiative that we are developing in Galicia (Spain), with the aim of helping prison inmates to achieve social inclusion. And, indeed, it was also great to share knowledge and get familiar with other programmes that our colleagues are developing all around Europe.”

Fabiola García

Regional Minister of Social Policy Galicia, Spain