Image by Tim Mossholder for Unsplash

Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) is often presented as something organisations need to include in our guidelines to check an invisible box of mandatory good practices. If that’s the reason why we are doing it, maybe we should take a step back and start again.

D&I issues should be at the backbone of every organisation. Not because it is “good to have”, not because it is selling point, not because someone said you should do it. We should do it, because it is good organisational practice and everyone inside your organisation and outside it will benefit from it. You need not to take my word on it. There is much research proving it. What is clear, though, is that this will not work if there is just a single (or a small) group of diversity and inclusion champions. The whole organisation has to buy in to the concept and understand how important it is. 

Rehearsals in action in Barcelona 

On January 15th 2021, the Spanish pilot project kicked off in Barcelona named “Build yourself’ or Construeix-te, launched the pilot theatre project ArtE Program - the Arte of Employability - in Spain. Over in Porto, Portugal, also in its early stages, the Portugese pilot project is beginning its planning stages. Read more about the progress of these two projects and their ongoing impact on youth social inclusion below.

Barcelona Project - “Build yourself’ or Construeix-te: Coordinated by UpSocial and accompanied by Espai Teatre, a group of theatre professionals that use art for education and social transformation, the pilot project in Barcelona has been embedded as part of the educational activities, with six-weeks theatre work that will lead to the première of Historia de una escalera, one of the most renowned works of the playwright Antonio Buero Vallejo.

The Barcelona local version, aims to support a group of young people in their transition to adulthood.  The group is called Construeix-te project (“Build yourself“), one of the programmes delivered by Fundació Comtal, a local organisation that provides children, adults and communities with socio educational development opportunities. The programme engages young people facing unemployment into flexible, personalised itineraries aimed at strengthening their soft, academic and vocational skills in order to smooth the transition to the labour market. Due to its potential to unlock personal transformation processes through creative tools and arts, ArtE was seen as a perfect fit for this programme.

12th November 2020
By Leonora Buckland, Principal Consultant at Stone Soup


As the pandemic struck, a universal and hopeful sense of pulling together in adversity emerged resulting in many offering to help others worse affected, for example by supporting a local food bank or delivering essential items to vulnerable people. We might look back and say that the pandemic has changed the very concept of volunteering and community (in a positive direction) – it is too early to say.

In the immediate light of Covid-19, Stone Soup consultants wanted to care for each other, their families and their local area, but also the social sector which is a place of so much striving, hope, brilliance but also struggle. Many social organisations on the frontline in the pandemic were buffeted by uncertainty, drastic potential funding cuts and facing major strategic decisions. They desperately needed to keep their organisations open and serving their beneficiaries (with houses, trainings, food, a lifeline) and to adapt their fundraising and business models whilst keeping their staff safe. Funders moved into emergency mode engaging in a free spirit type of grant-making which has not been seen in many years whilst looking for collaborations. Never before had the proverb, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone; but if you want to go far, go together,’ seemed so true for the social sector.   

A poster advertising A Midsummer Night's Dream by Willam Shakespeare by Impulso, performed during December 2020 in Italy

In spite of the current context and the recent months challenging circumstances, THE SHOW MUST GO ON! Against the odds there have been three premiere performances staged with an audience present and streamed online by the two partner projects for ArtE Programme; Projektfabrik and Vivaio during 2020.  After intensive months of social art work with youth in an unemployment situation, these performances were staged virtually, read about them below:

1/ Der Jasager und der Neinsager by the Frederick Ensemble - Germany in September 2020

Der Jasager (literally The Yes Sayer also translated as The Affirmer or He Said Yes). Der Jasager und der Neinsager = He Said Yes / He Said No is by playwright Bertolt Brecht. It is based on the old fable about a teacher leading a hike in the mountains, among the hikers being a young boy whose mother is quite ill. Half of the group, which started to work in March 2020, were people with an immigration background whose language level was very basic. Yet, according to the theatre director, it quickly became clear the importance of theatre work, physical and rhythmic expression, to overcome language barriers, connect people and promote social cohesion. This performance was staged by Projetkfabrik. >>> Read more about the play here.

 

Illustration by Katerina Limpitsouni

How social organisations deal with this crisis will define their survival in the medium and long term. Here we analyse how they are adapting their communication so as to reinforce the message and boost fundraising.

By Pilar Ballet  Stone Soup consultant specialised in strategic communication
and Angela Millan  Stone Soup consultant specialised in creativity and social innovation and fundraising
 
 
The pandemic and social distancing have arrived with a bang in the Asilo de Luarca hospital in Asturias. The residents are senior citizens whose lives, up to now,  have focused  on enjoying their visits,  taking part in outside activities and local life. However, nowadays they are isolated in the home with hardly any physical contact and afraid of contagion. “Before this it was very important for us to tell people  what a happy home it is and change the negative perception that people usually have of residences by talking about our daily life, anecdotes and life in general. With the corona virus we’ve lost that happiness and don’t know how to convey what we do and get it through to people” explains Sandra Cuesta, director of the home. This is one of the direct consequences of the pandemic  on a lot of social organisations in Spain. How to communicate when many of the organisations are still searching for their own new normal?