In the past, the ‘escalera’ (staircase) in apartment blocks was much more than just going up and down steps that led you to landings from where you could enter apartments or exit a building. It was a space to share and enjoy quality time with your neighbours, a meeting place where people helped each other whenever necessary. Within the framework of the Getxo Zurekin (Getxo with you) Project, sponsored by Fundación Doble Sonrisa with participation by Agirre Lehendakaria Center (ALC) and Deusto Business School Health, 55 testimonies and 80 narratives were collected in Getxo -using ALC’s methodology- that led to a need to recover the human dimension of those staircases.

A well-known neighbourhood in Algorta will be the place where this ‘pilot’ action of Getxo Zurekin will be carried out along with highly motivated local people. The aim is to “be here for the long term and make the lives of local residents easier, more human and pleasant”.

The initiative, worked on with a number of groups in three very intense meetings, is an example of the efficiency gained by applying methods of social innovation. ALC has put its knowledge of innovation platforms at the disposal of Getxo Zurekin, and these platforms have enabled the listening process and collection of narratives among different people in the area. Testimonies have been collected from schoolteachers, nurses, representatives of associations and institutions, doctors, sociologists, lawyers…

This listening process gave rise to an interesting and revealing narrative that has spurred a group of twenty people (of different ages, genders and professions) to take action. Together, they analysed the conclusions of the research and organised a fourth meeting, a session of co-creation or co-design in which they decided that promoting the notion of the ‘staircase’ was a priority for their communities of residents. The results of this pilot action will be presented at the end of March 2020.

A rich listening phase

In the listening phase ALC collected testimonies and narratives on situations and experiences before the end of life; during and after. “The institutions want to play a bigger role but do not know how to approach this subject”, some representatives of the Administration acknowledged, while others added that “at the moment, the social services in Euskadi do not envisage the relational and human element as a core one”.

Some doctors highlighted the face that “faculties of medicine or nursing do not provide across-the-board training in the end of life stage”. Teachers put the emphasis on the “need to educate children directly about situations of grief or illness”.

These are just some of the testimonies that open the door -not just in Getxo but also elsewhere- to applying initiatives that make progress towards the creation of compassionate communities, in which the source of inspiration is sustainable human development.