Senior Citizen Liaison Team Receives Prestigious European Award
The historic and beautiful City of Maastricht in the Southern Netherlands Province of Limberg, was the venue for the highly prestigious, bi-annual, European Public Sector Awards (EPSA) which were hosted by the European Institute of Public Adminstration between 17th - 18th November 2015.
Established in Maastricht in 1981 and having centres in Luxembourg and Barcelona, the European Institute of Public Administration (EIPA) is Europe's leading centre of excellence on European integration and the new challenges for public management.
With a mission to support the European Union and its Member States and the countries associated with EIPA, by providing relevant and high quality services to develop the capacities of public officials in dealing with EU affairs. It offers services to officials at the EU institutions and in related bodies, and to civil servants within the national and regional administrations of the Member States, applicant countries and other countries in the framework of their relationship with the EU.
SCLT volunteers Ashley Jones (holding certificate) and Jon Williams (centre right) receive the European Public Sector Award Best Practice Certificate from Professor Marga Prohl (Director-General of the European Institute of Public Administration) and Maastricht City Councillor Mr Jean Bruizneels (right)
The EPSA conference brought togther hundreds of delegates from the European Union in a celebration of best practice over the course of the 2-day event
Since its launch in 2007, the European Public Sector Award (EPSA) has received, assessed and made accessible more than 800 public practices from 38 European countries, including the European institutions. They form a rich database of valuable experiences at the service and disposal of all European public administrations and make the European Public Sector Award the European network of public sector excellence.
The 2-day EPSA event included presentations fom leaders of the public sector leadership of the European Union and a number of best preactice workshops, where nominees for the ESPA awards shared details of their projects with delegates from throughout the Europen Union.
The highlight of the event for many was the ceremony at the historic City Hall of Maastricht, where the EPSA Best Practice Certificates were awarded to representatives of the winning projects
The event included a number of opportunities for attending delegates to mingle in a social environment to build relationships and to network within project specialisms. One such event was a festive dinner, which was held at the Museum at the Vrijthof which was situated within one of the historic and attractive city squares of Maastricht.
SCLT volunteers Jon Williams and Ash Jones attended the event on behalf of the SCLT Charity. Jon Williams said, "We have thrown ourselves into the proceedings which great gusto, as opportunities to engage with our European colleagues rarely present themselves and we have to grab them with both hands"
"I have been really impressed with the standard of projects which have been recognised with the EPSA Best Practice Certificate. We have absorbed as much of the excellence which has been demonstrated over these 2-days, and I hope it will make us see opportunities to improve in our own procedures when we get back to charity business in the UK"
One of the venues used for the event, was the debating chamber of the Limberg Regional Government Building - notable for being the location where the 1991 Treaty of Maastricht was signed into existance by all European member states (and thus creating the Euro currency)
Festive dinner for delegates held at the Museum at the Vrijthof in Maastricht
The final ceremony, which was held at the ballroom of the Provincial Government Building, included a special celebration of the winning projects, which included opera artists who performed a number of specially selected pieces of opera to recognise the musical history of the winning nations (Netherlands, Spain and Denmark)
Summing up his experience at the event SCLT volunteer Ash Jones commented, "Attending the 2015 ESPA event has been a very unique and enlightening experience for me. In the UK we are an integral part of the European Union, but due to our island status, I think we rarely take the time to share experiences and indeed seek the knowledge of our closest cousins, who are only a few short miles away on the continental mainland"
"I have really enjoyed the privilege of joining so many like-minded professionals who are also striving to make their communities a better place to live for everyone"
SCLT volunteer Jon Williams further commented, "For me, the star of the show has very much been the City of Maastricht, which is one of the most beautiful and interesting cities I have ever visited. It is very welcoming, classy and has lots to do and see. The people are so helpful and it is a delight just to wander around and absorb the rich culture of the area"
"Also, special thanks have to go out to the staff of the European Institute of Public Administration (EIPA), who have put togther a very slick and thoroughly engaging event. It has been a career highlight to attend this conference, and I look forward to further visits to Maastricht in the future - hopefully"
SCLT Volunteer Ash Jones
SCLT Volunteer Jon Williams