Social services carry the responsibility to provide care to improve the lives of people in disadvantaged situations. This Award honours innovative social services’ programmes, measures or processes that take a person-centred approach to planning, designing and providing better quality services meeting the needs of people who require care and support.
The Rural Coffee Caravan project addresses isolation and loneliness in rural areas that often lead to feelings of disconnection in communities. The project organises mobile information cafés that serve complimentary coffee and tea to locals. More than just a coffee stop, the Rural Coffee Caravan provides a platform for people to receive support tailored to their needs, whether it is engaging in meaningful conversations, sharing stories, or accessing information about local resources and support services to help people live happy healthy independent lives. Over the past twenty years, this grassroots approach has supported a significant number of people in rural communities, promoting social inclusion, strengthening community bonds, and positively impacting mental well-being among those it serves.
Austria has been grappling with a persistent shortage of skilled labour. AST Contact Points’ mission is to tackle these issues by providing guidance and facilitating the recognition of foreign qualifications, allowing migrants from over 170 countries to fully use their professional qualifications within the Austrian labour market. AST’s Contact Point approach has always been person-oriented and personalised, offering free multilingual information, advice, and support on an individual basis. Since 2013, over 70,000 clients have been successfully supported, conducting more than 100,000 consultations. Notably, 90% of those who were counselled expressed high levels of satisfaction with both the guidance provided by AST and the competence of the counsellors.
The Geronto community project addresses the lack of community-based social services for older people living in Zagreb. A mobile team consisting of a nurse and social worker offers holistic and individualised support, including emotional, social, and health counselling in older people’s homes. Additionally, the team provides information, mediation, and advocacy services to safeguard the rights of older people. The initiative extends its support through services such as housekeeping, janitorial assistance, and laundry services as needed.
Based on the positive experiences, a practical guide was produced for other organisations and individuals seeking to provide services for older people in their homes. Up to now, the mobile team has provided 3,100 services to older people in their homes, significantly improving their quality of life and promoting independent living.
Pro-ACT Support takes a proactive role in transitioning institutionalised adults in Romania with intellectual and psycho-social disabilities from large, impersonal residential facilities to smaller, family-like homes and apartments in rural areas, all owned and managed by the Pro ACT Support Association. At the heart of Pro-ACT Support’s approach lies a commitment to prioritising the person. Support staff are matched to each client’s unique profile, who co-create individualised plans with short and long-term goals. Clients are supported to become more autonomous, work, vote, and make their own decisions, breaking free from legal restrictions. A seven-year analysis consistently shows increased autonomy and improved well-being compared to institutional care.
The project ‘Pathways to Freedom’ addressed key gaps in support for young people leaving care facilities, in their transition to independent living in Bulgaria. The service, ‘Start of independent life’ was developed to provide them with crucial support in areas such as psychological and professional development, education, health care and mental health support and was tailored to their specific individual needs. Through the project, SOS Children’s Villages Bulgaria supported over 200 young care leavers through various measures, eventually empowering them to become self-sufficient individuals. A key element of the project was an advocacy campaign that aimed to integrate the service piloted by the project into the social services system, to achieve centralised support for young care leavers.
The Region of Southern Denmark has developed a value-based framework to improve the autonomy and quality of life for individuals with severe physical, psychological, and other significant impairments who live in specialist social services facilities.
The framework, designed with persons in care as well as their relatives and carers, has six core values: self-reliance, autonomous decision-making, feeling of safety, a content-rich life, communication, and significant relationships. The co-created values are incorporated into the planning of everyday activities and overall service delivery to ensure the inclusion of the perspective of supported persons.
The value-based framework is being implemented across all specialist social services in the region, such as 24-hour-service facilities, secured facilities for youths, day-activity facilities, special-education services, and consultancy services.
The Silver DOST initiative focuses on addressing unmet needs among older people, including those with limited self-care abilities, living alone and requiring specialist home care, facing psychological challenges, and combating social stigmas that limit their potential. Silver DOST actively engages with older people, assessing their needs and working towards their reintegration into society by aiming to boost their self-esteem, eradicate stigma, and reshape societal perceptions. Silver DOST delivered services to 61,870 users. Silver DOST’s impact involved 3,100 older people helping to shape leisure activities based on their preferences, whilst 1,050 received valuable IT training, enhancing their wellbeing and active participation in society.
The Social Atelier was established through an ongoing successful collaboration between the City of Osijek and DKolektiv – organization for social development. It tackles the growing divide and polarisation (social, political, generational, sectoral) and lack of dialogue within communities. By fostering dialogue, empowering disadvantaged, underrepresented, vulnerable and marginalised groups and promoting interdisciplinary problem-solving it aims to create a more inclusive society. This community centre provides a platform for individuals to voice concerns, share experiences, and actively shape their futures, fostering positive social change through empowerment, collaboration, and evidence-based community work. Noteworthy achievements include the organisation of over 200 community activities, which actively involved the participation of more than 600 individuals, resulting in over 3,000 visits to the community centre.