Our Civil Solidarity Prize was one of a kind in many ways. Find out some surprising facts about some of our winners and the prize itself!

1. In early 2020, the EESC had already chosen the theme for its traditional Civil Society Prize when COVID-19 struck. As the news about acts of solidarity started pouring in, the EESC decided to launch a Civil Solidarity Prize instead.

2. Unlike for the Civil Society Prize, which is presented to up to five winners from all over Europe, the EESC was now looking for a champion in each EU country and the UK. Another novelty is that it was also open to companies, and not just to civil society organisations as is the case with the traditional prize. 

3.  The EESC Civil Solidarity Prize received the second highest number of entries in the history of the EESC Civil Society Prize and is topped only by the 2015 prize dedicated to helping migrants and refugees.

4. As compared to previous prizes, the EESC this year received a larger number of entries from organisations that have not been formally established, such as groups of volunteers or neighbours, which clearly shows the spirit on the ground.

5. Krystyna Paszko from Poland is the youngest winner ever in the history of the prize. She was 17 when she submitted her entry, so her application had to be signed by her mother. Despite her tender age, Krystyna has taken the European media by storm with her original but incredibly brave project of providing a lifeline to victims of domestic abuse. Articles about her appeared in many media outlets across Europe, and she was interviewed by the BBC.

6. The saying "troubles never come alone" was acutely felt by our winning contestant, the Croatian Network for the Homeless. Only a few days after the national authorities had imposed a strict lockdown, a strong earthquake shook the Croatian capital of Zagreb for the first time in 140 years.

7. Some of our winners already had experience of responding to virus threats in the past. The NGO Emergency, our cross-border winner, provided help during the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, whereas our Irish winner, the Alison learning platform, had already organised courses on SARS, swine flu and Ebola.

8. Some of our winners have also won other prizes for other COVID-related projects. One example is the Lithuanian communication expert, Karolina Barišauskienė. Before walking home with the Civil Solidarity Prize for her project documenting the work of medical staff at COVID-19 frontlines, she had won a Lithuanian PR award for "Aware Youth – Enabled Elderly", a social project encouraging young people to respect quarantine rules.

9. Many of our 250 candidates not only carried out valuable work on the ground, but also came up with inventive names for their projects. Contestants from Spain and Slovenia seem to have been especially inspired and some of their initiatives bear names such as #SoulFoodFighters, "Anti-racist Pantry", "It Never Rains but it Pours" or "Hotel Korona", "Pimp my Walls" and "Our Streets are Empty but our Hearts are not". (ll)