Integrated Counselling Service at European social conference

Patrick Ehmann and Michaela Teigelmeister at the European Social Services Conference. Photo: Diakonie An Sieg und Rhein/Patrick Ehmann.

The European Social Services Conference (ESSC) took place from the 26th to the 28th of June in Antwerp, Belgium. Diakonie An Sieg und Rhein was on site. 

Patrick Ehmann, CEO, and Michaela Teigelmeister, Head of the Open Social Work Department, presented the Integrated Counselling Service to an international audience. Themed „Co-creating Future Social Services“, participants from Sweden, Belgium, South Korea, Chile, the USA and many other countries shared their visions. „Some approached us directly because they already knew in advance that they wanted to take a look at the Integrated Counselling Service,“ says Ehmann. 

„We were met with great interest. It was nice to hear that our idea was considered useful and necessary,“ adds Teigelmeister. She was particularly impressed by an example from the Belgian city of Ostend. There, citizens can contact the town hall in person at a central point and raise all kinds of issues without being sent through various offices. 

Like the Integrated Counselling Service, this case is exploring a solution to a challenge that affects all European social systems: How can people reach the services that are right for them in the simplest possible way? Ehmann summarises: „The social systems may be structured differently from country to country, but the challenges are very similar.“ 

The Integrated Counselling Service is a project of Diakonie An Sieg und Rhein. It brings together various social services under one digital roof to offer needs-based and holistic support for clients in difficult life situations. A person who is pregnant, suffering from addiction and homeless at the same time no longer has to seek support from three different places. Instead, the support comes to them in one place. This increases the efficiency of social services and promotes a holistic view of people’s life situations.