Dear Mr. Fillet,
Dear Mr. Montero,
Dear Members of the Parliament,
Dear Members of the European Social Network,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Welcome to Hamburg City Hall.
All around the globe, Hamburg is known for its port and our long tradition in trade and business. But our city also has a long history of social work and international exchange.
Hamburg never had an emperor or a king who ruled over its people and who would have taken care of them. Whatever the citizens of Hamburg achieved, they did it themselves, under their own power and direction.
They took responsibility for each other and for the common good: by volunteering their time, by donating money, and by establishing institutions dedicated to public welfare.
In 1788, the merchant and social reformer Caspar Voght founded the “General Institute for the Poor”, the predecessor of today’s Ministry for Social Affairs.
The Institute offered medical help and access to education for people who otherwise could not afford it.
It was run by 200 volunteers, financed through donations, and became an example for similar institutions in many European cities.
The international exchange of ideas and best practices is deeply rooted in the social services tradition of our city.
Hamburg is a member of the “European Social Network” and of “EuroCities”. We have long-standing co-operations on social issues with our sister cities Dar es Salaam and Chicago.
In a globalized world, we face similar challenges, and we can best deal with these by sharing successful methods and strategies.
Next to climate change, the most profound challenge of recent years was Covid-19. The pandemic changed the circumstances for social work. Due to risk of infection, it was very difficult to meet in person.
The endurance, commitment, and creativity in the social service sector were deeply impressive
- in schools and daycare centers,
- in hospitals and nursing homes,
- in youth centers and employment offices.
What has been done in this sector during the pandemic deserves great respect.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Central questions of this conference are:
What have we learned from the experiences of the last two years, and how can we prepare Social Services for future challenges?
Since the brutal attack on Ukraine, we are witnessing another crisis. Russia’s invasion has forced more than six million people to flee. All over Europe, once again social workers are providing vital support to those in need.
This shows how essential modern, robust social services are for our societies.
In the name of the Senate, I would like to thank you for participating in the ESSC 2022 and for contributing your insights and experiences.
I wish you a successful conference with many good conversations, new contacts, innovative ideas, and of course a great time in Hamburg.
Thank you very much.