The first EAER international multiplier event took place in February 2020 in Foligno, Italy. The event showcased results of the research and the work carried out so far by the EAER project to a local, national and European community. It’s good to look back at this event, considering the Digital Blended Mobility EAER Event taking place in a couple of weeks
Organized by Comunità La Tenda Cooperativa Sociale together with EGInA srl in Foligno, brought together more than 70 participants coming from Italy, Portugal, Austria, and Turkey. The event explored good practice in supporting disadvantaged and vulnerable people into employment, education, and training across Europe. The aim of the event was to showcase the learning from the EAER partnership, including sharing the learning from intellectual outputs and the experiences of direct and indirect beneficiaries.
The research carried out in the four partner countries on employment of people with addiction issues and the discussion and analysis of differences, similarities and strengths at a European level drew the attention of the participants along with the experiences shared by the speakers of the European delegations. There was also dynamic presentation by Pieter van Schie MA of the Dutch Foundation for Innovation, concerning the study and the creation of a Professional Digital Identity (PDI) and finally the online platform focused on job search, employability and innovative tools. The experience of the international event resulted in a mutual enrichment of the participants and the several initiatives and services carried out in the local, national and European territories.
After the meeting, the European delegations visited some services that provide support to people with addiction issues such as SerD of the USL UMBRIA 2 and some services of Comunità La Tenda Cooperativa Sociale.
The multiplier event produced extremely positive results in terms of the dissemination of EAER results. Tens of stakeholders coming from all over Europe active in the field of employability and social inclusion were reached. Target group participants were given the opportunity to share their experiences and excellent opportunities for creating synergies in the EU were established. Many participants expressed their interest in the project, both about the outputs and the future events of the project.Participant Experience
Among the participants were Richard Gray of NHS Lothian, Scotland and Carmen McShane of Turning Point Scotland. They both kindly shared a reflection of their time in Foligno.
‘ I found the Erasmus + conference to be extremely well organised with a number of useful presentations which gave a glaring insight into drug policy and services in a host of different countries. Learning about the intricacies of navigating differing national guidelines to provide suitable services in the addictions field was very interesting. The location of the conference was beautiful and I found the service visits to be extremely useful and worthwhile. The presentations were well thought out and well presented. It is amazing to see how addiction services are provided in another country and see where the similarities are with our own services back home and pick up ideas which could improve service provision in Scotland.’
– Richard Gray
‘ I was delighted to have been offered the opportunity to present a case study and attend the EAER European funded conference in Foligno alongside Richard Gray, NHS Lothian.
From the event one presentation in particular stayed with me and has given me cause to reflect and look at areas where we need to improve in our service delivery at Turning Point Scotland.
This was a presentation on the topic of Digital Professional Identity (DPI) from our Dutch peer and part time raconteur Pieter van Schie MA. Pieter spoke of DPI as the effective use of social media and it’s value in developing a professional social identity. He spoke about DPI as a means of branding one’s self, particularly regarding job searching among people in recovery and their professionals / trainers. I was particularly interested in this topic as many people we support not only experience economic and social disadvantage but digital poverty. I hadn’t fully thought specifically about this and its impact on job searching.
It is true we are in a digital age and regardless of your opinion of Twitter, Facebook etc., more and more adverts, job searches and applications are exclusively completed online.
As an adult harm reduction stabilisation service and homeless service, the majority of the individuals we support lack basic access to Wi-Fi at home or access to smart devices, the very means to take create a digital footprint. They remain digitally invisible unseen and unheard. They cannot take part in any social media conversation let alone look for work. A whole group of individuals due to poverty, do not have a voice and are disadvantaged by online recruitment and digital world.
Each service needs to look at how we can adapt by supporting our staff and volunteers to be competent digital coaches, innovate through peer2peer coaching so we can contribute to leveling the playing field and pass on these skills to those we support.
With this presentation in mind I returned to Edinburgh intent on improving access to digital opportunities for those we support. Then in lockdown there was a stark reminder of just how much we rely on digital technology. Lockdown has forced new thinking in short term, cutting through the usual endless red tape, where additional funding streams and grants have been made available to close that digital gap.
The recent lockdown highlights the essential role the appropriate use of social media can play in staying connected, and has further exposed deep inequalities around digital inclusion in our current society. A lot of recovery meetings, talking therapies have had to move online. Without a device and access to internet many individuals were cut adrift and the impact on people’s mental health was devastating.
In Foligno, Pieter argued Digital access and training was a basic human right and an essential part of everyday work and social culture. Now in the shadow of lockdown it is even more so. We all must try harder. ‘
– Carmen McShane
In the EAER Bulletin we are Looking Back on our Foligno EAER event
In this EAER bulletin we also looking forward to the Digital Blended EAER Mobility on 23 November 2020 till 26th November 2020