The 17th FEAD Network Meeting Highlights

The 17th FEAD Network meeting took place on 20 September 2019 in Brussels and discussed issues related to “Celebrating 5 years of FEAD”.

The European Union has always been dedicated to alleviating poverty and improving the lives of its citizens. This ambition is clearly defined in the Europe 2020 strategy target of reducing poverty by 2 million in Europe until 2020, compared to the baseline year of 2008. The Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD), created in 2014, is one of the key tools that Member States can use, offering material and non-material assistance to the most vulnerable individuals across Europe.

The FEAD Network was created in 2016 to facilitate the exchange of experience, capacity building and networking between key stakeholders related to the implementation of FEAD, as mandated by Article 10 of the FEAD Regulation. Since then, the FEAD Network has become an open membership community for people providing assistance to the most deprived in Europe. This has proved particularly valuable for partner organisations that do not have the opportunity to exchange at European level otherwise. Over time, the FEAD network has significantly contributed to the exchange of good practice and mutual learning, increasing FEAD’s added value in the process.

Up until September 2019, 16 FEAD Network Meetings have taken place across Europe, averaging 88 participants per meeting. Participants are encouraged to engage in in-depth discussions and exchanges of experiences to gain a deeper understanding of a wide range of issues associated with FEAD implementation. As some of the network meetings take place in different member states, project visits continue to be a valuable source of information and first-hand learning. Due to the interactive nature of the meetings a variety of case studies from across the EU are presented, which are very popular amongst FEAD Network members. The Network Meetings are also a privileged opportunity to discuss the future of the fund in the new programming period, as well as implementation ideas for the future.

The FEAD – Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived – is one of the main instruments for alleviating severe poverty in the EU. Its main objectives are promotion and improvement of the social cohesion and inclusion of EU citizens.

A mid-term evaluation conducted in 2019 explored the effectiveness, efficiency, coherence, relevance and EU added value of FEAD activities for the 2014-2017 period. The evaluation concludes that FEAD successfully fulfilled its objectives. One of the key achievements of the fund is the large number of end recipients it has reached (exceeding estimations laid out in the impact assessment). Moreover, FEAD managed to help those who might be omitted by mainstream social services, such as migrants and those in need of immediate assistance. It should not be forgotten, however, that FEAD support relies on limited resources (0.013% of Member States’ allocation to social protection), which are not enough to lift people out of poverty sustainably. This is not its primary objective

Operational programme I

According to the FEAD mid-term evaluation and an open public consultation with key stakeholders, FEAD food and material assistance (OPI), together with its accompanying measures to reduce social exclusion, made a positive change for the most deprived, particularly for those who required immediate assistance or were excluded from other types of social support measures. On average, FEAD supported almost 13 million persons per year over the 2014-2017 period. Overall, more than 1.3 million tons of food aid were distributed to the most deprived in 22 EU Member States, including women (49%), children (29%), persons with a migrant background (11%) and other target groups.

The biggest food distributors during 2014-2017 were Spain, France, Poland, Italy and Romania. In some countries, food support accounted for up to 70% of overall FEAD assistance. Despite a slow start to public expenditure in 2014, all eligible member states (except Romania) provided FEAD food support to the most deprived in 2017.

Regarding FEAD material assistance, Austria and Greece are the main material support providers among EU member states, accounting for more than 70% of all FEAD EU expenditure on material support (EUR 13.7 million out of a total of EUR 19.5 million). In some countries such as Austria, Latvia and Ireland, most of the material assistance is distributed to children. The overall amount of goods distributed accounts to only 3.18% of all basic material assistance, since only 8 countries are involved in material goods distribution

The accompanying measures provided by partner organisations were introduced with FEAD in 2014, have proved to be an innovative element securing the social inclusion approach of FEAD in complementing food and material assistance. Measures vary country by country in their design, aim, scope and target group, with the provision of information about social services and guidance being the most common type of support. They require relevant experience and training to be implemented.

Operational programme II(OPII)

Four countries (Germany, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands) have chosen to implement OPII. Compared to OPI, OPII supports less end recipients, which is most likely linked to the smaller budget allocated. Germany, Denmark and Sweden have provided most of their FEAD-funded social assistance support to migrants, people with a foreign background and minorities. Whilst Sweden and Denmark focus on homeless people, the Netherlands concentrates their resources on helping the elderly and women.

Overall, based on public consultation conducted during the mid-term evaluation, more than 90% of respondents agree that ‘FEAD makes a difference for the lives of the most deprived’. The relevance of all horizontal principles, including reduction of food waste, balanced diet, gender equality, equal opportunities, and respect to dignity and partnership, were confirmed by stakeholders. Thus, they are all included in the proposal for the new ESF+ regulation.

Lessons learned from 5 years of implementation

Over time, FEAD actors have adapted their FEAD interventions to better meet the needs of end recipients, including emerging needs. The mid-term evaluation shows that nine Member States have adapted their operational programmes. These include adjustments in the design of the FEAD intervention, based on target groups’ needs. This could include revising the targeting of end recipients or the eligibility criteria or adjusting the composition of food and/or basic material packages. Improvements were also made in the FEAD implementation process in areas such as procurement and delivery methods, and management (administrative processes, complementary financing sources, building partnerships, allocation of responsibilities between stakeholders, monitoring and evaluation processes, etc.

As the current programming period is coming to an end, there is a strong interest in the future of FEAD, its place in the context of ESF+ regulation, and the sustainability of FEAD results in general.

The Meeting

As usual the meeting began with an overview of the day by the organization and the welcome and update on ESFD+ negotiations by the European Commission followed by a FEAD in Belgium overview by their Managing Authority.

Project Visits in Brussels – Group B – Centre Social Protestant

This Centre provides holistic assistance to all users, regardless of their political, cultural, racial and religious orientation – to learn about its mission’s purpose and activities. The centre is a FEAD partner organization that distributes food products and offers social services, assistance with debts and other services. It has 20 staff members and the voluntary participation of church members, students and other citizens.

It has a cafeteria serving 20 meals a day, a social boutique and a small store of furniture to help its users. They also offer a home support service.

 

Workshop: FEAD’s key achievements and lessons learnt

Interactive session with the participants being distributed to the various tables to discuss each other about achievements, challenges, lessons learned and future improvements in FEAD. To launch the debate two introductory remarks were made: Achievements, lessons and perspectives by Patrizia de Felici from the Italian Managing Authority and by Florence Tornincasa from the European Anti-Poverty Networks

Marketplace session: FEAD achievements on the ground

Each participant was able to choose 3 from 6 case studies.

Case study 1: Bulgaria – How best to support older people

Case study 2: Czech Republic – Success and challenges of FEAD in the Czech Republic

Case study 3: Denmark – How to support homeless people with OPII

Case study 4: Ireland – School kit project

Case study 5: Malta – Adapting food packages following home visits.

Case study 6: Spain – Impact assessment of the Spanish FEAD Operational Programme

We chose case studies 1, 3 and 4.

Case study 1: How best to support older people in Bulgaria by Evelina Milusheva and Bozhidar Sandev.

Territory of Bulgaria – 111 000 km2;

Bulgaria’s population: 7.1 million people;

Number of BF’s – 265 000 – 330 000

For 3-year period – about 33 000 000 kg. foodstuff is distributed

We distribute basic foodstuff: spaghetti; beef in own sauce; lentils; sugar; canned vegetables; green beans; peas; sterilized tomatoes; beef meatballs in white sauce; fish; canned chicken; beans; jam; rice; oil …etc

Accompanying measures designed  for elderly people :Family budget management; • Counselling for provision of social services and social support; • Information for disaster preparedness; • Counselling for telephone fraud prevention; • First aid training; • Prevention of socially significant diseases; • Balance diet counselling; • 1 tutorial film – Balanced diet and healthy lifestyle; • Posters – Disaster preparedness, Family budget management, preventing food waste.

Case study 3: How to support homeless people in Denmark with OPII by Frederik Hyllested

The aim of the Danish OPII FEAD programme is to secure the most socially vulnerable homeless people a more stable, healthy and safe existence through social- and outreach teams combined with counselling. Hereby the participants are given the option of using existing programmes with the aim of lasting improvements of their personal situation. We have completed two rounds of application for the Danish programme. In the first round two projects were selected (Project UDENFOR and DanChurchSocial).  The two projects differ in the intensity of their work with the most socially vulnerable homeless people. One project offers outreach to people on the streets, counselling and short-term shelter for a small selected group. The other project offers a more intensive counselling, outreach and the possibility for the participants to use a so called locker-room in Copenhagen. In Arhus the project offers community building activities such as giving the homeless a possibility to build their own home. Here FEAD covers the costs of personnel and training, while materials are donated from building sites and the like.  The houses are very simple. There is no kitchen, no toilets or baths. Basically, it’s a room with a bed and few pieces of furniture. The houses are built, so that they can easily be moved elsewhere.

The two projects have helped 4-500 people a year since mid-2016. Of these 2-300 people a year say that they have felt included in help programme. The aim of the Danish programme was to help at least 1400 end recipients by the end of the programme. This goal was achieved by end 2018. An additional aim was that 35 % of the end-recipients felt further included in the national help programme. So far, this goal has been achieved and is an ongoing aim, that we are positive will be met by the end of the programme.

Case study 4: School kit project in Ireland by Susan McGowan

The aim of this project is to support deprived families by easing the financial burden at the beginning of the school year by providing school stationery.

School kits are provided to FEAD Food recipients where families have children attending school and to children of applicants for International Protection who reside in Direct Provision Accommodation

The composition of the pack is determined by the age of the child. There are three age groups, 4 to 8 years, 9 to 12 years and 13 to 18 years.

There are over 15 items in each pack such as twistable crayons, copy books and triangular pencils for the junior children. While the packs for the older group contain hard back science notebooks, USB sticks, maths sets etc.

The packs are distributed through the local partner organisations who distribute FEAD food product throughout the year.

To date almost 90,000 children have received school stationary kits at a cost of over €2m.

The retail values of the kits for each group are €35, €45 and €60 respectively

Feedback from the organizations:

“To state the obvious, our children and their parents were absolutely thrilled by this EU initiative, even more so with the quality of the content in each school bag”

▪ “One boy in our group was refusing to go back to school until he received his school stationary kit. Once he received the kit, he was happy to go back as he now had the same stationary supplies as his friends”

▪ “The day we gave the packs to our children was like a combination of Hallowe’en and Christmas, the children were thrilled, and we got great feedback from extremely appreciative parents. I can’t thank you enough”

100 participants attended this meeting.

 

Next meeting: 7, 8, November in Brussels.

 

Brussels, September 20,2019

 

Hermínio Corrêa

Parents International


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