Verified case study

Unique collaborative approach improves outcomes

by Joe Kay | 4 January 2017

Unique collaborative approach improves outcomes

Client testimonial

"We have been excited to be one of Enswarm's first customers. Their Innovation tool, in particular, helped us support our clients in collaborating and improving their organisations, and really exceeded our expectations. We are so impressed we are now building Enswarm's tools into our events and consultancy services, and we look forward to continuing to work together."

Rachel Eden, Director, Holybrook Associates


Holy Brook Associates is a training, consultancy and events facilitation company. Their goal is to empower people to improve their organisations and communities by sharing expertise and competence.

Trust House Reading is Holy Brook Associates charity of the year. The centre in Reading, United Kingdom offers a safe place for those affected by rape and sexual abuse.
Initially funded by the Ministry of Justice, and established with the support of The Survivors Trust, Trust House Reading serves the wider Berkshire district.

Executive summary

Trust House Reading offers a safe place for those affected by rape and sexual abuse in the Thames Valley area of the UK. As a relatively new charity they needed to:

  • Develop strong relationships with stakeholders in local public services
  • Work with stakeholders to create an actionable strategy and provide the best possible support to the survivors of rape and sexual assault.

Trust House Reading chose Holy Brook Associates to facilitate a learning day for local stakeholders. Holy Brook Associates designed a session that combined face to face interaction with online collaboration before and after the event. They used Enswarm's Innovation and Decision tools, to remove bias from group discussions, encourage wide participation and drive ownership of the outcomes.

Trust House Reading was delighted by the outcomes of the learning day. The benefits were: 
  • A successful event with open collaboration and positive attendee feedback
  • Nine actionable recommendations crowdsourced from attendees
  • Attendee participation established the deep sense of ownership necessary to drive action and change
  • Greater efficiency and reduced delivery costs



Trust House Reading needed to raise their profile with local stakeholders and develop a strategy to improve support for rape survivors in the Thames Valley area of the UK. They decided to run a face to face learning event, with a strong focus on participation and collaboration among attendees.

Traditional broadcast events limit interaction and learning, as speakers transmit their thoughts to the audience in one direction only. Even in a workshop setting attendees might hold back from sharing due to shyness, lack of confidence in their expertise, and concerns about how their contributions might be received.

Active contributions of expertise were vital to developing the best possible strategy, drive ownership of the emerging action plan, and create the motivation for attendees to turn their ideas into reality. 


Rachel Eden, Director at Holy Brook Associates, designed and led the learning day event. Her role was to facilitate conversation between attendees, capture insights and deliver a final report containing a set of actionable recommendations.

Attendees were invited from over 20 organisations, with varying levels of seniority, experience and knowledge. Speakers were chosen for their range of perspectives and were drawn from the police force, health service and local council.

Maximising participation from a diverse audience can be difficult. Rachel wanted everyone to be heard, not just those who felt most confident speaking up on the day. She turned to Enswarm's Innovation tool to encourage collaboration before the event.

Innovation is an online product that uses an anonymous interface to provide a bias-free way for a group to honestly debate questions. 

All attendees were invited to use the Innovation tool and explore issues in advance of the event. The opening topic was 'How do we support survivors in the Thames Valley area?'. Rachel started the conversation, and the other attendees, including the Chief Executive of Trust House Reading, continued the dialogue. Only Rachel could see who was providing the answers.

The event had a high attendance, with Innovation setting the participatory tone in advance. People arrived on the day expecting something different from the usual passive speakers and audience format. While not everybody engaged with Innovation, those that did entered the room having already considered the primary objective of the session e.g. how to improve services for Thames Valley survivors.

The learning day itself was facilitated with a workshop format. Attendees sat at circular tables and were encouraged to discuss and write down their thoughts on large paper mats. These comments were combined with the ideas raised in Innovation and verbal suggestions, and distilled into nine thematic recommendations.

The recommendations comprised actions such as 'To set up a forum for professionals and volunteers' and 'Open up training from statutory bodies to smaller organisations'. The next step was to rank the recommendations in order of priority. Rachel asked the attendees to propose the criteria for ranking. Suggestions included cost, impact, timescale and inclusivity.

Rachel added the crowdsourced recommendations and ranking criteria to Enswarm's Decision tool. Decision is another of Enswarm's online tools. It uses independent digital input and data-enabled meetings to allow a group of people to make the best possible choice based decisions together.



Providing opportunities to share ideas before, during and after the learning day, via a range of formats, maximised the contributions from a very diverse set of attendees. Feedback was very positive, with attendees valuing the collaborative nature of the event:

  • "very exciting event to participate in and a new approach to encouraging participation...energising to be involved"

  • “I loved the idea of writing ideas down as we listened and talked and left with optimism that there were many individuals from different organisations and walks of life with the same goal - to improve support for survivors of sexual abuse and violence.”

  • “It was a very well organised event. The key speakers were all very informative and relevant to encourage productive debates.”

Innovate and Decision were not stand alone or add on tools – they were fully blended into the design of the event. They removed the bias generated by the loudest voices and allowed everyone to be heard regardless of personality type, background or communication style.

The event was successful in building the profile and reputation of Trust House Reading with their stakeholders and delivering specific actionable recommendations on how to improve services for local survivors.

Automating initial data collection with Innovation, and ranking the recommendations with Decision, accelerated the delivery of the final report. Rachel did not need an additional scribe to support event facilitation, which reduced costs.

Using Decision after the event gave Rachel and Trust House Reading a reason to contact attendees, build ongoing relationships and cement their ownership of the outcomes.

The overall results were a delighted client, reduced costs and a positive result that met all of the planned objectives and will benefit Trust House Reading's clients.

If you have been affected by rape or sexual violence, and live in the Thames Valley area of the United Kingdom, Trust House Reading are here to help; you can contact them by phone or email.

The Survivors Trust and Rape Crisis provide support services across the UK, please see their websites for details.


Joe Kay

Founder and CEO of Enswarm. Enswarm's vision is to help humanity progress in a more intelligent way by removing the negative effects of human bias from teamwork. We do this by delivering simple, intuitive, digital tools, enabling people to make more creative, effective and transparent decisions together. We want to make office politics, groupthink and bad group practices, a thing of the past.