Connecting Neighbours: Swiss Initiative Wins European Innovation in Politics Award


The Innovation in Politics Award in the category Community has been awarded to a Swiss project, Neighbourhood Bern, which connects volunteers with senior citizens who need help with everyday tasks.

Berlin, 20 January 2022 – Ten projects from France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK were finalists in the 2021 Community category. The finalists and the winner were selected by a European jury of 1,032 citizens. The winning project, Neighbourhood Bern, from Switzerland was announced in an online event from Berlin. 

Strengthening social ties in Bern

Neighbourhood Bern is a free programme open to anyone in the City of Bern. The aim is to pair up people who need help with those who can help them, empowering senior citizens to live as independently as possible in their own homes.

Volunteers are individually connected with people living within a 15-minute walking distance who need support with everyday tasks—such as help with shopping, providing company, or fixing technological problems. They can offer up to three hours a week of their time, and don’t need any specialist knowledge to help their senior neighbours.

The Bern programme cooperates with local partners such as care homes, parishes and community organisations in order to reach the people most in need of support.

Prof. Jutta Allmendinger, President of the WZB Berlin Social Science Center

“Innovation is a magic word. Our societies depend on innovation to foster social cohesion. Social cohesion, however, needs trust and transparency. We therefore have to invite all people to engage in society, we have to give them a voice. I thank the finalists in the Community category for their work creating a better world for our societies. I hope this will inspire much more innovation in the future.”

CEO of the Innovation in Politics Institute, Edward Strasser: 

“The importance of local communities and the benefits of working together increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially the need to help neighbours. This year’s awards winners, Neighbourhood Bern, is an outstanding initiative because it shows how small gestures can make a big difference to senior people who face problems often on their own. On behalf of the Europe-wide jury, I congratulate all the finalists and the winners, Neighbourhood Bern, for finding positive and practical solutions to their local communities.”

Award ceremonies in nine European cities

This year’s Innovation in Politics Awards are being celebrated as a pan-European series of events, taking place from December 2021 until February 2022 under the auspices of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Marija Pejčinović Burić, and the patronage of European Commission Vice-President for Democracy and Demography, Dubravka Šuica.

The nine Awards categories are as follows: Community, Democracy, Digitalisation, Ecology, Economy, Education, Human Rights, Quality of Life, and COVID-19 Strategies.

The 2021 winner of the Innovation in Politics Awards for Community:

The 2021 Community finalists:

The events are supported by

  • H.E. Alexander Van der Bellen, Federal President of Austria
  • H.E. Eduard Heger, Prime Minister of Slovakia
  • H.E. Marija Pejčinović Burić, Secretary General of the Council of Europe
  • H.E. Dubravka Šuica, European Commission Vice-President for Democracy and Demography
  • Prof Jerzy Buzek, MEP, former President of the European Parliament and former Prime Minister of Poland
  • Allan Larsson, former Finance Minister of Sweden
  • Barbro Westerholm, MP, former Director General of the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare
  • Prof Jutta Allmendinger, President of the WZB Berlin Social Science Center
  • Antonio Rosati, CEO of EUR S.p.A.

About the Innovation in Politics Awards

The Innovation in Politics Awards recognise courageous and creative political projects in Europe. The aim of the competition is to identify the brightest minds in politics in Europe and present their solutions to other politicians across borders and party lines for inspiration. Over the past five years, citizens’ juries of 5,000 Europeans have selected 42 winners out of over 2,000 political projects. The Awards are run by the Innovation in Politics Institute in Vienna, Austria.

For more information:


Claire Clifford
Communications Manager
Innovation in Politics Institute