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Final event review: site visit to Vives Project in Torreblanca, Sevilla

This is a series of review of the SIC final event. Below is the site visit to explore social innovation in Seville, Spain.

“Equipo sin barreras”

by Shannon - SIC network facilitator

The Intermediaries, Community Led Innovation and Public Sector Innovation networks organised two site visits to the Vives Project in Torreblanca, Sevilla which is run and managed by Accion Contra El Hambre.

The Vives Project is an innovative project aimed at encouraging and supporting inclusive entrepreneurship aimed at people at risk of social and occupational exclusion. This project is part of a strategy of social innovation and actions against unemployment in the City of Seville. The Vives Projects’ mission is to create opportunities for accessing the world of work through entrepreneurship for people who do not have jobs and who are at risk of exclusion.

The two site visits were to the Vives Emplea and Vives Aprende projects in the neighbourhood of Torreblanca in Sevilla. Torreblanca is one of the five most deprives neighbourhoods in Spain with high levels of unemployment. The Vives Project is focused on a people centred approach to tackle the issue of employment in the community they work in.

The Vives Emplea project works with adults in Torreblanca who are unemployed. Each year, they take on two groups of twenty-five participants, who over six months, work together to realise and develop their skills and employability. This project harnesses the power of community-led initiatives and co-creation as each group is involved in designing their six month course.

At the Vives Emplea site visit we heard from the course managers and the participants about their experience on the project. After hearing from the participants, something that really shone through was that the project has many more benefits than providing access to employment. The course helps participants to realise their skills and strengths. Facilitation of the project comes from within the group pf participants for each intake and they become like a family, supporting each other.

One of the participants compared his experience to the metaphor of the sea. He said that after 30 years of employment, when he lost his job he felt lost at sea, alone and hopeless. The Vives Emplea project helped him find others who were in the same situation as him that he could talk to. Together with the course directors and other participants they became a strong ship, working together against the stormy seas. The course directors noted that the biggest and most sustainable part of the project is the groups themselves, as groups from 2012 are still in contact with each other today.

The Vives Aprende Social School of Hospitality trains people who often are excluded from employment such as people who have a disability greater and victims of violence or abuse. At the site visit, we heard from young people at the school and how the project has benefited them. Both projects have a 70% rate of insertion, meaning that most of the people they work with have jobs by the end of the project.

It was inspiring to visit both projects at as part of the site visits organised as part of the SIC Final Event ‘Beyond imagination: a socially innovative Europe’. The Vives Project is an uplifting example of the success of social innovation to tackle issues such as exclusion, isolation and unemployment in deprived areas.