Winds of Hope

Acceptance and capacity for change


Lignano Sabbiadoro (Italy), 18-22 October 2023


Winds of Hope

Acceptance and capacity for change

Human beings face small or large changes throughout their life, sometimes by choice, sometimes because circumstances and events are forced upon them. This can happen in a sudden and dramatic way and involve not only individuals, but communities and society as a whole, as with the Covid-19 pandemic and the recent armed conflict in Europe.

Sometimes changes forced upon us are not easy, but acceptance is the prerequisite to resilience. We should acknowledge that unwelcome change can also open prospects for personal and social maturing.

Individuals and society generally have the personal and collective resources to cope and accept change, to keep a balance, even when everything seems upside down. But it can be difficult.

Helpline volunteers know this only too well, given that for 60 years they have listened to people and supported them in the most critical moments of life, in those periods when accepting or changing is crucial to restore hope and to build or re-build the future.

For its next international congress, IFOTES proposes to reflect on these abilities, that only human beings have, to experience changes, moving between the capacity for acceptance and the desire for further transformation.

Message from IFOTES president
Sonja Karrer

Dear volunteers and members of IFOTES,

we are very happy that 4 years after the last congress in Udine we will have the next congress in 2023 in Lignano Sabbiadoro, in the Italian region Friuli Venezia Giulia.

We are looking very much forward to meeting many of you at the congress. I’m sure that it will be a wonderful experience for all of you in this beautiful and welcoming region.

See you in October 2023!

Sonja Karrer
President of IFOTES

Information: the venue, the city and the coast of Friuli Venezia Giulia
Information: the venue, the city and the coast of Friuli Venezia Giulia

The venue: Bella Italia Village in Lignano Sabbiadoro

The congress will be held in Lignano Sabbiadoro at Bella Italia Village, a large structure that hosts sporting events and conferences, surrounded by 60 hectares of verdant pine forest facing the sea.  

A long strip of golden beach (as much as 8 km) is the jewel in the crown of Lignano Sabbiadoro, one of Italy’s most renowned seaside resortsLignano looks out over the Marano lagoon, an unspoilt area of sandbanks, canals and little islands with the characteristic fisherman’s huts that even Ernest Hemingway fell in love with sixty years ago.

The coast of Friuli Venezia Giulia 

Long sandy beaches alternating with spectacular lagoon landscapes, fishing areas, nature oases of incomparable beauty and little bays set into cliffs punctuate Friuli Venezia Giulia’s 130 kilometres of coast.

What this varied and heterogeneous riviera has in common is the Adriatic Sea which washes the whole of the area from famous beach resort Lignano Sabbiadoro to Muggia, the easternmost side of the Gulf of Trieste with Grado and its beaches and the Grado and Marano lagoons within it.

Where is Lignano Sabbiadoro  

Organizers & Partners
Under the patronage of the European Parliament
Steering Committee and Scientific Committee


  • Sonja Karrer, IFOTES president - Chair of the Committee (CH)
  • Michael Grundhoff, IFOTES vice president (D)
  • Jaap Jakobs, ARTESS Board member (NL)
  • Diana Rucli, ARTESS president - Congress coordinator (I)


  • Yaël Liebkind, IFOTES member of the International Committee, director of la Main Tendue Genève (CH) – Chair of the Committee
  • Astrid Höpperger, IFOTES member of the International Committee, director of Telefonseelsorge Innsbruck (A)
  • Mit Van Paesschen,  IFOTES member of the International Committee, director of Tele-Onthaal Vlaams-Brabant en Brussel (B)
  • Reka Szente, LESZ member (H)
  • Melinda Medgyaszai, psychotherapist and microbiologist (H)
  • Stefania Pascut, Healthy Cities Project Coordinator, Udine (I)

Registrations are open 

Go to registration