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Dear colleagues and friends,

It is an honour to be leading ESN as Chief Executive from the first of January 2018.

For the past 8 years, I have led work on mental health, children’s services, integrated services, workforce and evidence-based social services, and authored publications on these topics. I am proud to have managed a successful programme of activities funded by the European Commission, trained civil servants in capacity-building, written for academic journals, news outlets and specialist social services magazines.

Travelling through Europe, I have met and listened to many ESN members working in the management and delivery of public social services in local communities across Europe. I have learned to respect their work for the wellbeing and safety of children, support for parents and carers, reducing the risk of abuse or youth offending, and helping adults and older people to maintain or recover their autonomy. I have admired the resilience of these members who care for some of the most vulnerable in our societies under challenging financial and in many cases, political circumstances.

2017 has been a year of growth and transformation for ESN. Following the UK referendum result to leave the EU and the decision to relocate the Secretariat from Brighton to Brussels, there has been the need to form a new team to deliver the programme for 2018. However, these changes are a fantastic opportunity to continue delivering services that are professional in character with well researched publications and well organised events to continue as a reference point for social services policy and practice.

Looking forward, I would like ESN to deliver a strategic programme that meets the European Union’s policy objectives and the needs of ESN members in local communities across Europe in four key areas:

  • Upholding people’s social rights throughout the life-course
  • Promoting the sustainability and adequacy of social welfare
  • Engaging in European and international policy processes and funding
  • Strengthening ESN’s capacity, membership, communications and impact

I want to ensure that the activities delivered by ESN enable those who plan and manage social services to gain the knowledge and develop the skills they need to deliver quality care and support. Financial sustainability is essential to ESN’s future and this cannot be underestimated. International recognition and financial support for ESN will enable the network to deliver a programme that not only ensures knowledge exchange but equally promotes increased membership and supports public authorities to improve policy and practice.

I look forward to working with staff, members, partners and friends to open a new and exciting chapter of learning and development for ESN, and help achieve a vision of social justice, social inclusion as well as efficient, effective and sustainable social services delivery in Europe.

Let the journey begin!