International Women’s Day 8th March 2018

Over the years, Diversity House has supported so many women achieve their business goals through the women empowerment programme called ‘Supporting Women and Girls’ (SWAG) project formerly known as the ‘Swale Women Empowering Women’ programme. Here is the story of one of our shining stars who came to the programme speaking no English but is now running a successful Beauty Business in the Swale area.

Read Rashmi’s Raju’s story which she presented at the International Women’s Day on 8th March hosted by Diversity House and Ideas Test.


How I started a Beauty Business from Scratch with the Support of Diversity House

I first came to the UK from India 13 years ago with family, at the time it was only myself, husband and baby daughter. We settled in Hemel Hemstead amongst a large Asian community, so I found little opportunity to learn English. My native language is Kannada. Because I could not speak the language I found it very difficult to communicate and even do essential activities like taking my children to hospital, children’s centre etc.

In the early days, most of my time was spent looking after my young children, I now added another member to my family, my lovely son who was 6 months when we moved to Sittingbourne.

Because I was no longer surrounded by my community, I found things even more difficult to get by. At the weekends I run a stall doing face painting and henna designs, also some festivals. But my lack of English was a real problem. I learnt a little from customers, but I knew I needed to do more.

In 2012, I bumped into Mrs Christine Locke, fortunately, at Phoenix House and she informed me about the Diversity House programme Swale Women Empowering Women which would help improve not only my English but other areas including my business. This was the first time I heard about the empowerment programme and I was happy to join.

Christine referred me onto the English as a Second Language (ESOL) at the Adult Education Centre t I registered for Entry Level 3 which proved to be a turning point in my life.

Before going on the SWEW programme I was isolated, with no friends hindered by lack of English but once I joined my life started to change. I was on my journey of empowerment.

I gained more confidence and even hired a room at Phoenix House after Christine introduced me to the management. Once children where at school I ran my business now with added beauty services including eyebrow threading, facials, manicure, pedicure, eyebrow tinting, eyelash extension. The whole works. I had taken a beauty course at Fast Track and Sally’s Beauty Salon

I kept up with the English classes and even my friends became my customers. We do parties together, go shopping and chat with each other now and again.

One of my long time goals was to pass ESOL level 1 in English, Level 2 Maths and to sit for the exam: Supporting Children’s Learning course and Rapid English. I am proud to say I achieved all these goals in 2016. I am even thinking of giving my son who has ASD (Autism) extra support, rather then paying for expensive tuition.

In the same year, I received an achievement award from the Mayor of Doorstep Learning, and since then I have completed more Kent Adult Education courses including Jewellery Making, Cake Decorating, First Aid, Sign Language, Computer Skills and How to Run a Business. I even passed my driving test and have my own car.

There’s no stopping me now. It’s hard to think about how my life has changed from the early days.

The Swale Women Empowering Women Programme really made a difference to me and my family.

All I can say is thank you to Diversity House for assisting my progress! I hope this story will give you motivation to do the same.