European Social Services Awards (ESSA)

The European Social Services Awards recognise innovation and excellence in social services in Europe, 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.

Its aims are:

  • To identify and promote best practice in social services
  • To recognise excellent work done in the field
  • To encourage peers to work with and support each other in improving their practice
  • To promote innovation in social services in Europe

ESSA 2020

Each year, the European Social Services Awards are held under a particular theme, with the aim of shining a spotlight on particular areas of social service practice.

The European Social Services Awards in 2020 were held under the theme “Transforming community care”.

In 2020, the European Social Services Awards focused on how social services have transformed the ways they provide care in the community to support the most vulnerable.
With a goal of improving people’s quality of life, community social services support people in need taking account of their individual wishes, needs and assets, giving them the chance of being fully included in society. ‘Transforming community care’ will also be the overarching theme of the 28th European Social Services Conference that will take place in Hamburg in June 2022.

With a focus on transforming community care, the Awards seek to honour efforts to come up with innovative models of care in the community for all population groups: children and youth, families, adults with dependency needs, informal and formal carers.

Submissions may relate for instance to:
• the development of a foster care programme for children and youth,
• the development of tools to support children and youth in child protection,
• coordinated children’s services initiatives involving family and services partnerships,
• the development of procuring and contracting for quality with a range of social providers,
• developing of wellbeing and life quality indicators for community-based social services,
• improvement programmes for community-based services,
• improvement programmes for the workforce,
• crisis-preparedness plans to support the most vulnerable in light of health and social emergencies,
• crisis-preparedness plan to support the workforce in light of health and social emergencies,
• co-housing community developments for older adults,
• replacement of institutional with community-based services for any population group,
• intergenerational programmes,
• children and adults safeguarding programmes.

ESSA 2019

This first edition of the ESSA coincided with 20 YEARS of ESN as a network, building and exchanging knowledge in social services across Europe. As such, it took place under a subject central to ESN’s work – Celebrating Quality in Care – also a key theme of the European Social Services Conference 2019 in Milan. The goal was to honor the efforts of measuring, managing and improving the quality over a variety of activities and target groups, from research to practice, from childcare to elderly care, and from carers to providers.