Hilda Chehore is one of the 2017-2018 cohort of the Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland Social Entrepreneurs Programme, a year-long programme run in partnership with the School for Social Entrepreneurs and jointly funded by the Big Lottery Fund.
Launched in 2012, the programme helps equip entrepreneurs with the skills to grow a social business and work towards solving some of the most pressing social issues within their communities.
By 2020, hopes are it will have supported around 2,350 social entrepreneurs to start and grow innovative social organisations.
One of the most recent batch of programme members, Hilda is the founder of the Zimbabwe UK Social Workers Association (ZUKSWA).
This social enterprise provides emotional support to social workers and social work students who are from Zimbabwe, but based in the UK.
The enterprise is driven by the belief that it is difficult to have a sense of belonging and integrate in a social work team if your individuality is not celebrated.
Hilda is being provided with financial support and a learning programme, plus the assistance of a business mentor from the Lloyds Banking Group.
A social worker by profession, with a master’s in social work, she was born in Zimbabwe and set up ZUKSWA in June 2015.
Hilda said: “When I started my social work practice, I struggled to find support.”
Realising many colleagues were in the same boat, she set up an initial meeting in Birmingham and then a Whatsapp group, purely to share social work experiences, provide support and signpost solutions and specific sources of assistance.
From October 2015, ZUKSWA met up every three months.
Today, the group invites speakers to discuss topics that help members ‘be equipped and sharpened’.
It already has approximately 200 members, but further moves are afoot.
Hilda said: “We have got another group, UKSWA, for people who are not from Zimbabwe but have expressed an interest in being part of the organisation. Last year, we started holding community days, where we invite people from local communities and teach them and raise awareness.”
To find out more, see www.zukswa.com
‘A voice for social workers’
According to Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland Social Entrepreneurs Programme member Hilda Chehore, setting up a social enterprise is rich in challenges, both expected and unexpected.
Hilda, who founded the Zimbabwe UK Social Workers Association (ZUKSWA) a couple of years ago, said: “Sometimes people don’t take it seriously when you start something. Other people didn’t understand where I was going with my vision and were not sure how it would come out. But I also received positive feedback from members.”
Hilda said her group’s next steps are to build a strong team of practice educators: “A lot of black minority social workers need placements. Our next step is to build an advocate team for student social workers on placement and also something like a union for social workers who are members, as many social workers struggle as well.
“We want to be a voice for every social worker, to support social workers to stay in their position.”
Hilda said many social workers and student social workers currently suffer from burn-out or depression because of lack of support and ‘we want to be there for them’.
She would also like to see national days, such as a domestic violence day, to raise awareness: “We want to have input around, for example, crime, so we are making small steps towards these kinds of things. We want to build a base so we can work in partnership with other organisations.”
Hilda was attracted by the Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland Social Entrepreneurs Programme as she saw it offered many advantages and her mentor was ‘lovely and so supportive’.
She said: “It is an opportunity to tell other people [about ZUKSWA] and get the support I need. I enjoy going to study days, where we meet once a month. I learn a lot about myself and my business and how to sell myself to different kinds of people. It is a platform for the future development of entrepreneurs.”
Hilda recommended others try this route: “It’s a great opportunity, so go for it! If you have a vision or a dream and you need to put it into practice, apply to this programme. It gives you an opportunity to mingle with and learn from others. You have to look at yourself and your business to see what you need to grow.”
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