Nordregio is a partner in a new SEMPRE project that promotes empowerment in social service provision in rural areas of the Baltic Sea Region (BSR). The second meeting takes place the 18-20 April in Luleå, Sweden. Social service providers such as welfare and public sector organisations, NGOs and social enterprises are encouraged and enabled to involve end-users – namely members of disadvantaged groups such as single parents, the elderly or migrants – in the development and delivery of social services.
Many rural areas of the BSR find themselves in a downward spiral, where outward migration and economic downturn lead to a deterioration of service infrastructure and quality of life and vice versa. Competences that are needed to renew services and stimulate social innovation and entrepreneurship are missing while regional disparities increase. Demographic changes and financial austerity further add to these challenges.
SEMPRE aims at improving the social service infrastructure by empowering end-users to participate in service design and delivery. Institutional capacity building of social service providers (public, private and third sector) is essential for this process in order to adapt work methods and instruments and successfully manage organisational change.