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How was the E3M learning exchange with Suara Cooperativa from a partner’s perspective?

Date: 29.01.24 |Categories: Featured |Tags: , ,
E3M-Suara exchange group
E3M members and partners with members of the Suara team at the Barcelona HQ

In November 2023, we organised the E3M learning exchange with Suara Cooperativa that saw social enterprise leaders, Big Society Capital, and national law firm Stone King visit Suara HQ in Barcelona, as well as several of its services. The Barcelona visit was the second part of the exchange, E3M members from across the UK having hosted the Suara team in October.

Senior Associate Solicitor, Nicole Reed, represented E3M core partner Stone King on the trip and has written about the experience as follows.

“Suara Cooperativa is a not-for-profit cooperative that provides services to people at every stage of life, from nurseries and employment support to elderly social care and supported living. It is a well-established cooperative, built on strong principles of transparency, respect and participation, placing people at the centre of everything they do, whether they are employees or service users.

“Participants on the three-day trip could choose to visit Suara’s service provision for early years, elderly and social care, or homelessness. Across the projects, all were welcomed with open arms by people who clearly care deeply about their work.

“I found it fascinating to see and hear different approaches, not only to shared issues but also how to go about solving them. Suara’s mode of working was impressive and provided the contingent from the UK with a lot of food for thought. Most notable and refreshing was the genuine commitment to participation and, therefore, trust in others.

“It was observed by the participants in the exchange that, as a cooperative, Suara has built-in systems for real employee participation. This is not limited to ownership but is central to decision-making processes and built into day-to-day management. This mentality is also visible in the design of services, which focus on and include the individual and their holistic needs. These same mechanisms for listening and encouraging the sharing of ideas lead naturally to ongoing innovation. Implementation of bigger projects is achieved through collaborative partnerships with other organisations including government, universities, businesses and other not-for-profit entities; the focus being on transparency and sharing to get the best results for the service user.

“Some service examples witnessed by the exchange’s participants were:

  • in-house 3D printing of implements for those with disabilities, made bespoke for each person’s needs;
  • virtual reality films created for those with dementia or in palliative care, allowing them to re-visit childhood neighbourhoods or special places;
  • an easy-to-use app linking elderly people living in the same area, with associated in-person meetups supported by the Suara team; and
  • an immersive room, initially designed as a treatment for depression and anxiety, but now being used in numerous other contexts.

“This commitment, not only to delivering high quality service but also to looking beyond the basic brief, was testament to why social enterprises are so well-placed to deliver public services.

“The E3M learning exchange with Suara Cooperativa was a great success, and the shared learning and connections made will no doubt serve as a platform from which to build in 2024.”