2011 is the European Year of Volunteering which recognises active citizenship and the contribution of ordinary people of all ages to their local communities by investing some of their free time in day care, youth clubs, in hospitals, in schools, in sports clubs, etc. Volunteering is an active expression of civic participation and strengthens solidarity and social cohesion. Volunteering can also provide new skills and competences that can improve employability which is particularly important at this time of economic crisis.

The Barcelona 2010 conference highlighted the need for investment in life chances through, for example, measures to support employment, to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of public services and to improve the quality of care together with the involvement of service users.

"It is our responsibility to promote social innovation to develop services that empower people and allow them to play as active a role in society as possible."
László ANDOR, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, European Social Services Conference, Barcelona 2010.

The Warsaw conference 2011 will build on these messages which - while responding to the ongoing challenges of the financial crisis - recognise that it is important to use the momentum for change wisely to redesign policies and practice that improve people’s life chances in the longer term. In so doing it will look at renewed interest in many countries in service innovation and understanding and pursuing service effectiveness.

In this context the conference plenary will look at the broad thrust of activation policies, including measures to promote employment opportunities for all including those furthest from the labour market. The second day in particular will examine the experiences of new developments in service financing and contracting and measures to promote community care. In so doing, ESN is concerned that this includes moving decisively from institutional to community based care as recognised by the European Commissioner in Barcelona;

ESN’s work in this area is an important step in this direction and I am committed to help transform that challenge into an opportunity”.

Delegates to the Warsaw conference will also have an opportunity to participate in a very wide range of areas of discussion in the conference workshops and discover what concerns countries from all parts of Europe.

Organisers of the conference

The conference, which is not-for-profit, is organised annually by the European Social Network (ESN), a forum of directors of public social, health, education and employment services in Europe and associate member organisations. The 2011 conference is presented in cooperation with the Polish Presidency of the European Union.

The work of ESN continues after the conference in the Networks seminars and working groups, in its research and communication. If you would like to know more please go to or contact us on +44 1273 739039.