NGO networks active in the fight against poverty and social exclusion held a press conference on Tuesday 19 January to present their key requirements for the 2010 European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion.
In his opening remarks Fintan Farrell, Director of the European Anti-Poverty Network, stressed the importance of having a vision to end poverty in Europe: “To achieve a great society for all – this is the dream, this is the hope.”
Two persons experiencing poverty involved in ATD Quart-Monde, Yvette de Vuyst and Alain Schacht specified what they see as being key to realising this vision: "Separating children from their parents only makes things worse. Instead, what is needed is psychological support and helping the family to find ways to get out of an unbearable situation, to get an occupation that will enable them to support their family."
Myria Vassiliadou, Secretary General of the European Women’s Lobby, highlighted the need for a stronger political commitment to end poverty. Sophie Kammerer, Policy Officer of the European Network Against Racism, added that the participation and commitment of everybody is central to ending poverty and building inclusive societies.
Jana Hainsworth, Secretary General of Eurochild, called for the reinforcement of the Open Method of Coordination, as well as for the adequate funding of programmes and initiatives which focus on poverty and social exclusion.
This includes resources for an awareness raising campaign on both the structural causes of poverty and social exclusion and possible solutions – another key demand from social NGOs. “It seems that societies who are more aware, do have better policies regarding poverty,” said Freek Spinnewijn, Director of the European Federation of National Organisations working with the Homeless. In addition, Spinnewijn would also like to see real progress on developing adequate Minimum Income Schemes.
Social NGOs also announced that an EU Poverty and Social Exclusion Awareness Week will take place from 24 – 30 May 2010 and urged the media to devote time and space to raising awareness about poverty and social exclusion.
The press conference was held at the shelter cafeteria of Les Petits Riens, a social enterprise in Brussels.