The Helpdesk: Six months in – where are we now?
Six months have passed since the Helpdesk project officially started. The main aim of the Helpdesk is to support social services to more easily access and better use EU funds and to help Managing Authorities use EU funds to finance quality interventions in the field of social services.
Much of the focus during the start of the project has included:
- Evidence-gathering activities to inform and develop the project’s future outputs: 2 surveys – one for social services and one for managing authorities to get better insight into the barriers and challenges which prevent EU funds from being used by social services. We received a response from 357 social services and 75 Managing Authorities to the survey;
- Ten national events are being organised in ten different EU Member States (Belgium, Spain, Italy, Ireland, Austria, Sweden, Bulgaria, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Spain) in the months of October and November. During these events, social services, Managing Authorities, EU representatives and intermediary bodies will be brought together to discuss barriers, challenges, but also good practices in relation to the access and use of EU funding;
- A launch event was organised in Brussels on 20 October. The European Commission, the project partners, an intermediary body and a managing authority met to discuss the potential of the project to fill the gaps when it comes to knowledge and capacity building, simplification of EU funds, and policy guidance such as:
- Capacity building of social services: Which EU funds do exist, how to access them, how to write a project application, and how to manage the project?
- Finding solutions to overcome the bureaucratic burden: which tools can make it easier to apply for EU funds and create an enabling environment, such as simplified cost options and application templates?
- Guide managing authorities and social services on the kind of projects which can be funded with EU funds, and which have the most social impact.
In addition, the project partners have been working on the creation of its website which should be online by the beginning of December (https://eufundsforsocial.eu), and which will be the main platform for all the projects outputs. During the duration of the project, more and more sections and resources will be added to the website, such as a Massive Open Online Course and a Geographical Map with country-specific information. There will also be a Helpdesk support page, where social services can submit questions about EU Funds.