Erasmus+ program: meeting between countries in Linz

The first meeting of the partnership “Health begins in the families – Prevention and health promotion for families in precarious circumstances in Europe” was attended by 25 professionals from six partner organisations. Unfortunately, our British partner could not participate in the exchange due to operational reasons, he was connected via Zoom. The meeting took place in Linz, Austria, from 27-29 June 2022 and was hosted by our partner Caritas for the Diocese of Linz.

The workshop started with a welcome by Barbara Schinnerl, Head of Pedagogical Controlling in the area of Accompaniment and Participation at Caritas Linz and Johannes Berger, Social Worker at the Child and Youth Competence Centre St. Isidor. They emphasised the importance of European cooperation in the field of adult education, especially with regard to the inclusion of disadvantaged families, and presented the agenda for the next three days. Ulrich Förster from the Diözesan-Caritasverband Köln, as project coordinator, welcomed the project team in person for the first time, after the team had met digitally with Zoom 14 times since the start of the project. He then moderated the introduction of the participants, who formed nationally mixed teams of two, to then introduce themselves to each other in front of the group.

He then gave an overview of the EU education programme Erasmus+ as well as the joint project with its contents, goals, tasks and expectations in order to create a common information base in the group. Afterwards, all partner organisations involved presented their project activities so far with the help of a PowerPoint presentation.

Despite the Corona pandemic, the Erasmus+ partnership has fortunately already been able to set impulses for concrete project activities at all partners. For example, Caritas Alba Iulia (Romania) has carried out activities to obtain clean drinking water in a Roma community and organised a day of action to collect rubbish with the families and children. Our partner from Lithuania conducted activities with families and children under the titles “Learning about healthy life habits”, “Physical activeness” and “Nature therapy”. Before the lunch break, practical exercises on health prevention and promotion took place under the guidance of the pastoral assistant and Qi Gong trainer Franziska Mair, in which all members of the conference took part and which met with very great approval.

In the afternoon, Dr Margitta Mätzke was a guest. She is a professor at the Institute for Politics and Social Policy at the Johannes Kepler University Linz and spoke on the topic of “Health prevention and health education for families: How can we reach the unreachable?”. Her interesting presentation focused on the institutional and conceptual context in which health promotion in families takes place. She also took a close look at the inequalities between the EU member states and the connection between health and income. Following on from this, Mr Paulowitsch-Laskowski and Ms Hosseya, employees of the Austrian Health Insurance Fund (ÖGK), reported on the model project “Well accompanied – early help”, which started in 2015 and now provides intensive health support to families with young children throughout the country.

On the second day, Mr Lars Czommer presented the programme “Together in the Neighbourhood” of the state government of North Rhine-Westphalia with its focus on “health”. In addition, colleagues from Caritas Linz informed us about the projects “Balu”, “Reading dog”, “Learning café for children” as well as about the diverse help for families and the intensive counselling and support for disadvantaged parents.

After a visit to Linz city centre with a healthy lunch at the “Caritas Food Bus”, we visited the Caritas location St. Elisabeth with the “Café Carla”. We were welcomed here by the member of the Caritas Linz board, Stefan Pimmingstorfer. There was also an exchange with advocacy groups and peer counselling from the department of accompaniment and participation on the topic of health. It was explained to us how people with impairments in turn advise other people with impairments on health aspects.

The third day focused on further work in the project. The group then exchanged views on administrative issues, the status of the project website and the dissemination of the project activities. Finally, an outlook was given on the next transnational partner meeting, which will take place in December 2022 at the partner Caritas in Trieste (Italy).

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