“In awarding the 2015 Civil Society Prize, the EESC rewards outstanding initiatives aimed at combating poverty in Europe by improving economic and social inclusion. I am proud to be able to congratulate the honourable winners of the 2015 EESC Civil Society Prize on their achievements. I also take this opportunity to commend, on behalf of all my colleagues representing European civil society vis-a vis the institutions, all the women and men fighting courageously to alleviate suffering, to reduce the impact of poverty – or banish it altogether – in their own countries”, said the EESC President George Dassis.
The German organization Armut und Gesundheit in Deutschland, which provides comprehensive medical care for homeless people and the Finnish Y-Foundation, which promotes health and social welfare through provision of affordable, good quality rental housing were awarded EUR 11 500 each. The three initiatives from Ireland, France and Poland were awarded EUR 9 000 each. Fáilte Isteach, a Third Age initiative (Ireland), is a community-based project where older volunteers welcome migrants and refugees to Ireland through giving English conversation classes. Uniterres, an initiative of A.N.D.E.S. (France), provides social and solidarity-based food shops with fresh, quality local produce sourced from local producers of fruits, vegetables, herbs and eggs. The social Integration Centres, which are an initiative of The Barka Foundation for Mutual Help (Poland), address issues of education and vocational training for the long-term unemployed, including the disabled, former prisoners, refugees and addicts.
The five winning projects were chosen from a list of over 100 projects. Some of the initiatives are being replicated in other European countries and even beyond which confirms their success and shows that they can serve as examples of best practice for others to consider. The record number of entries for the 2015 Civil Society Prize shows that poverty is a real issue in Europe with almost 10% of the population in the EU being severely deprived.
The Civil Society Prize, now in its seventh year, is awarded for “excellence in civil society initiatives”. Each year, the prize covers a different aspect of the EESC’s activities. The 2014 prize was dedicated to civil society organisations working to integrate Roma communities.