Annual Meeting 2018: A perspective from the board

Spain welcomed ENIEC network with rain and wind for the very first time. Some of us might have thought that Spain is always warm and shiny, but we took that weather change as a lesson: things are not always as we assume.

The ENIEC registration to the AM and the welcome ceremony was held in Palacio Cibeles. The ceremony started with the words of Hanna Rantala, the chair of the organizing committee. The City council of Madrid, Marta Higueras Garrobo, First city Major of Madrid and Councilor of City Government of Madrid, Equality, Social Rights and Employment welcomed us warmly to Madrid. The atmosphere in the welcome ceremony was really nice and expecting.  The chair, Lola Casal- Sanchez held a speech, where she mentioned ENIEC as a social movement, Lola also made a comparison between ENIEC and Northern lights as both are phenomena that are moving constantly. Isabel Martínez Lozano, President of HelpAge Spain, State Board of Social Rights for Elderly, talked about the rights of old people in Spain, finally Mr. Albin o. Larsson from the Swedish Embassy, The Swedish Trade, and Invest Council Spain, Portugal & Portuguese speaking Africa concentrated on the international coordination of social and health care in his speech. Spanish Society of Gerontology and Geriatric Care highlighted the discussion of the European elderly living in Spain.

After the speeches, we enjoyed a nice cocktail dinner that was produced by a new entrepreneur. We, old members, discussed how the year passed and we have not seen each other for a long time. There were lots of new faces, new interesting people to get to know to result in an intense sound of talk in the air. After the opening ceremony, we took a bus up North to the beautiful village Res Sagrados Corazones El Escorial. The place was different from the earlier meetings, we were gathered together in a new way in that residence.

Thursday morning started with the exercise session that was led by Eva Rönkkö.  All early birds were ready to move arms and legs to the beat of the music.

The first day of the AM in El Escorial started with the welcoming words and introductions by Lola Casal, Chair of ENIEC Board and Hanna Rantala, Chair of Organizing Committee. Lola introduced our topic, Religion and old age. The topic was inspiring and many members had knowledge, experience and ideas about the topic and its importance in nowadays world where people live their lives in different ethnic and cultural surroundings.  The topic also suited perfectly to the place where we were staying. The monastery was near and the friendly nuns were our hosts. They also introduced Sagradas Corazones to us.

The organizing committee Hanna, Yvonne and Roy had done a great job with Lola to make the AM possible in Spain. All the members of Organizing Committee could also speak Spanish. We have so many skills in our network! That was also an example of how to involve members more deeply to organize the annual meeting.

Jan Booij had a storyteller mantle and he told us short stories from China. We listened excitedly and enjoyed his stories.

During the AM many members gave a contribution to the program. We had 7 different dialogical sessions that were chaired by the members. Lots of knowledge and good practices, as well as research results, were shared during these sessions.

There were a lot of new members present at the meeting, the recruitment has been fruitful last year. At the same time we had a farewell moment of Grete, one of the founders of ENIEC. The members sent their best wishes to Grete and Jan Booij gave a speech of her and to her.

The Communication Group introduced the image of the new website to us. Moreover, we discussed the GDPR, the new general data protection law of the EU, and its relevance to ENIEC.

The new Communication Group will start working after the website is finished, one of their tasks will be to find materials for the webpage. A number of countries will have a special member who collects materials as an ambassador.

The auditor’s group Harry and Els have done an incredible job during the last year to implement a financial reporting that is transparent for everybody.  

There was a time for the elections of the Board again. Sari Schienberg, Sweden, and Sari Heikkinen, Finland, were both willing to continue on the Board and we also got a new candidate, Nikolett Arnold from Hungary. Niki got lots of votes and was chosen with Sari Heikkinen to the next two year period to the Board.