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Julia Brückner, Regional Representative Of Help-Hilfe Zur Selbsthilfe

Long-term Collaborative Partnerships

Since its inception, aid organisation Help has provided assistance where most needed, and has done so exclusively on the basis of real needs. Its development efforts also include capacity building for local partners, such as civil society organisations and local governments, with which Help builds long-term collaborative partnerships

Our strategic plans include regionalisation and localisation in order to better address needs. We thus established a Help-Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe regional office for Southeast and Eastern Europe located in Belgrade, Serbia, in early 2023, – explains Help regional representative Julia Brückner, before announcing some other plans and further projects.

What is currently in your focus?

— The main projects implemented by Help in Serbia have gradually expanded from humanitarian relief towards socioeconomic development, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. Our development efforts also include capacity building for local partners, such as civil society organisations and local governments, with which we build long-term collaborative partnerships. Our portfolio in Serbia consists of over 8,000 small and medium- sized enterprises generating income, 30 cooperatives (approximately 1,000 people), over 2,000 housing solutions (housing 10,000 people) and 50 small-scale projects that are improving the lives of local communities.

What are Help’s key initiatives and projects in Serbia, and how do they contribute to improving the lives of the individuals for whom they are intended, but also local communities and society as a whole?

– The key projects in Serbia, but also across the region generally, aim to improve living conditions and support the social inclusion of marginalised groups, including youth, women, disabled, (former) prisoners and minorities. Our goal is to improve their living conditions. The programme relies on regional cooperation and exchanges of knowledge to facilitate sustainable development growth.

Our key projects aim to improve living conditions and support the social inclusion of marginalised groups

It involves maintaining existing partnerships and building new ones, while engaging local communities in innovative and sustainable activities to promote inclusion, economic empowerment, and green growth that balances prosperity with environmental wellbeing, ensuring no one is left behind.

What are your strategic goals and plans for Serbia? How do you view the role of Help in the country’s socioeconomic development, in strengthening its stability and its ties with Germany, while advancing its approach to the EU?

– Apart from violent conflicts, the consequences of climate change are also contributing to the global increase in humanitarian needs. In order to respond to the fast changes taking place in the country and the region, our strategic plans include regionalisation and localisation to better address needs. We thus established a regional office for Southeast and Eastern Europe, located in Belgrade, Serbia, in early 2023. This office, which has the capacity to mobilise, package and channel expertise from within the organisation and its implementing partners across the region, serves as a lead for the strategic programming of country-specific and regional portfolios, alongside quality control mechanisms.

In your cooperation with 85 towns and municipalities across Serbia, how much does it mean to you to have the support of partners and donors like the German Federal Foreign Office, the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, GIZ etc.?

– In our efforts to strengthen stability in Serbia and the region, and advance its approach to the EU, we are always grateful to our existing donors, particularly the German-related diplomatic and corporate communities. We also look forward to diversifying and establishing cooperative partnerships to expand our support to more people in need in Serbia and around the region.

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