This short guide is aimed at practitioners – those currently or considering engaging with social innovations. Even though the term social innovation is becoming more widespread, there remains significant confusion about what it is and what the term means.
This guide aims to provide an overview of what social innovation is; who does it and why it’s important.
Long-standing issues such as unemployment, child poverty and growing inequalities remain challenges for governments and communities across Europe. New challenges have also emerged over the past few decades. Migration and highly diverse communities have put pressure on community cohesion and, in some cases, placed additional demands on already pressed local services; a rapidly ageing population has dramatically increased demands on health and care services as well as public and personal budgets; and new lifestyles have brought with them problems of obesity and an increase in chronic disease such as diabetes.
The recent economic crisis, and the austerity that has followed, has exacerbated many of these trends, for example by worsening long-term youth unemployment. However, these challenges also show the real difference that social innovation can make in finding new and better solutions to address them.