All actors in the struggle against poverty and social exclusion in Europe recognise that the local level is crucial to achieve results in this field. Giving access to a wide range of good practices on the ground is the aim of LOCIN – http://www.locin.info/, the European website on local initiatives to combat social exclusion, which has been officially launched today in Brussels at a European conference gathering the project partners, as well as other relevant actors (NGOs, researchers, institutions). The project has been coordinated by the European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN) and supported by the European Commission (DG Research).
“It is not always easy to tackle poverty at local level, has stressed Fintan Farrell, Director of EAPN. This website will be useful for people who fight against poverty and social exclusion to learn ways to overcome problems they can face, and to exchange on policies and practice on the ground. Given the diversity of experiences, this tool can help to exchange good practices, access valuable research and strengthen our political messages”.
Six EAPN national networks, working with researchers based in universities or research centres, have collaborated to this LOCIN project which has given birth to a freely accessible and multi-lingual Internet platform gathering qualitative information on more than 170 local initiatives, information on national contexts, commented bibliography and references of research centres in six EU countries (Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Italy and the UK). The site also provides useful links to NGO, research and policy websites.
Starting up a local initiative
The site has not the ambition to give a comprehensive or thorough picture of the field, but rather to compile examples of good practices by NGOs, municipalities and other institutions. The LOCIN website is therefore designed to identify key elements for the success and sustainability of local initiatives to combat social exclusion. In that sense LOCIN aims to encourage the start-up of efficient initiatives through mutual learning in various fields, such as employment, social work, housing, health, education, training, culture, sport, etc.
The initiatives presented in the website were established to meet the needs of people experiencing poverty in a new way; they are often the direct outcome of the willingness of local residents or activists to work together. Most initiatives are also in close contact with their immediate local neighbourhood, as well as with relevant bodies and grass-root organisations. Several initiatives in the database have been awarded a prize in the context of specific national programmes or the National Action Plans on Social Inclusion.
A participant to the launch conference has stated: “This site is a treasure of information”. According to its promoters, it is definitely a valuable source of information and inspiration not only for NGOs, but also for researchers, policy makers and the media, all over Europe and beyond. In order to develop this tool further, they also expect some additional support from the Commission to make it a reference website and to foster the emerging relationship between the NGO sector and the research world on social issues.
European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN) (coordination)
Higher Institute for Labour Studies (HIVA – University of Louvain) (Belgium – coordination)
Die Armutsconferenz, Oesterreichische Netzwerks gegen Armut und Sociale Ausgrenzung (Austria)
Belgisch Netwerk Verenigingen waarin armen het woord nemen (Belgium)
Finnish Federation for Social Welfare and Health (Finland)
Arbeiderwohlfahrt Bundesverband (Germany)
Institut für Socialarbeit und Socialpädagogik (ISS) (Germany)
Collegamento Italiano di Lotta a la Poverta (CILAP) (Italy)
Centro Studi Erasmo (Italy)
European Anti-Poverty Network UK – NIAPN (UK)
Lifelong Learning Research Center – University Ulster (UK)
LOCIN builds further and is linked with an earlier database of local initiatives to combat social exclusion, which contains over 700 initiatives: http://locin.jrc.it/en/
For further information, please contact Barbara Demeyer (project coordinator): tel. +32 1 6323333, Email Barbara.firstname.lastname@example.org, or Fintan Farrell (EAPN Director): tel. +32 2 230 44 55, Email: email@example.com – EAPN website: www.eapn.org