Networking Social Work Across Borders
In the course of its expansion to the east, the issue of internal migration has gained importance in the European Union. Freedom of movement, an important cornerstone of the European idea, provides a way to gain skilled labor, and to improve living standards. At the same time, the prosperity gap within the EU remains extremely large. Wages in many areas are much lower than in Western Europe. Restructuring the economy and social welfare systems means that previous safeguards – as limited as they may have been - have disappeared. People are unsettled and many have decided to find jobs in more wealthy EU member states in order to increase their income and improve their standard of living.
Human mobility calls for mobility in social services
In the EU in particular, labor migration is frequently accompanied by circular migration. This means temporarily working abroad until one has enough money to establish something “at home” or enough to live on for a while and then migrate again. Some people migrate under very difficult circumstances; some become “stranded”. They are as unaware of local legal frameworks, administrative processes and laws as they are of their rights and obligations. These are the people that the staff at local counseling centers encounters every day. They deal with very different aspects of ensuring survival, living situations, debt, schooling children, and taking language classes.
Neither the regular local social counseling services nor the systems in place in the country of origin are sufficiently prepared to deal with this new form of mobility. Circular and repeat migration calls for cross-border forms of collaboration in social service systems. Meeting and pinpointing the needs of these people appropriately requires international networking and the exchange of information to a much greater degree than has been done so far.
What the Diakonische Werk Hamburg is working on:
We are networking with local partners to see where we can collaborate and how we can securely and successfully develop a mobility concept together for the EU. We are setting up cooperative networks with partners from South East Europe starting in Romania and Bulgaria.