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Social Change Champion: Samantha Heron

Samantha Heron is a passionate storyteller, and the person at the heart of Heart & Soul Story, a social enterprise connecting young teens with elders living in Aged Care. As an experienced strategist and qualitative researcher with an honours degree in Psychology and a Post Graduate degree in Social Impact, Samantha’s passion and area of expertise lies specifically in intergenerational programs, life story facilitation, and Third Sector Social Impact research and strategy. We had the absolute pleasure of talking to Samantha about her social enterprise and we promise you won’t want to skim over this one.

What is your social enterprise elevator pitch?

By 2030, WHO predicts depression will be the number 1 health concern. Heart & Soul Story was born from the vision that intergenerational connection and sharing our stories can help improve mental health in our community.
Heart & Soul Story‘s mission is to Bring Community Back Together, by making it easier to connect young teens with our elders living in Aged Care. We run an innovative, facilitated mental health promotion story-sharing program STEP: (Seniors & Teens Empathy Program) that brings youth and aged care residents together to reduce loneliness, isolation and fragmentation of two segments of society who are becoming increasingly vulnerable to mental health issues. It promotes wellbeing through purpose and meaning fostered through empathy building and human connection.

What are your biggest personal and/or professional challenges as a social entrepreneur in Australia?

1.The feeling of isolation working as a social entrepreneur; it’s hard for anyone to understand the long hours that go on behind the scenes to make what you do happen.

2. Figuring out what to prioritise when you are an early stage social enterprise startup (ie YOU), coordinating all relationships to run your program and then running it feels like a full time job, let alone needing to keep up with marketing, social media, funding proposals, website upgrades etc.

3. Finding the time to apply for funding; getting the right social impact measurement in place to prove the efficacy of the program without adequate staffing/ funding.

4. Avoiding burnout! The constant battle of being so passionate about your vision and mission, seeing the proof in the pudding when you are witness to the amazing connection and benefits of your social endeavour, that you go at it hammer and tong, often neglecting the vital self-care and self-compassion necessary to maintain your own mental & physical health !

What’s the best piece of advice you have received so far since starting your own social enterprise?

Hugh Mackay has been a ‘cafe mentor’ for me since the end of 2017. I had a number of different ideas all around story sharing and intergenerational connection, but Hugh wisely urged me to concentrate on what he saw as my most significant initiative so far, STEP. As with any other business, our tendency can be to try to do too many things ( like my hope to offer programs across the whole community). This reminder to be as single-minded and focused as possible has been an important hand brake on the urge to say yes when other opportunities arise.

If you were to start over, is there anything you would do differently?

Out of necessity of needing to get things done, I have found I have had to let go of the tendency to try to get my idea, my words, my work ‘perfect’ before putting them out to the world… perfectionism is exhausting and unrelenting …and the enemy of social enterprise, as it tries to keep you small by skirting outside the arena as opposed to keeping you in there with your face marred by dust and sweat and blood. I’d dump perfectionism at the door, and be willing to ask for help way more along the way.

What appeals most to you about Social Change Central?

Social Change Central provides me with the community I lack being a solo social entrepreneur… I can be in touch with and read about others who are navigating a similarly rocky road, be inspired by their wins, and feel empathy for their stories of ongoing challenge. If it were not for Social Change Central amalgamating and sending out fortnightly newsletters with funding opportunities, I would not have been granted a Layne Beachley Scholarship, a place of the Macquarie SEFA Kickstarter Program or made it to the finalist of the AMP Tomorrow Fund. Compiling these opportunities and offering them in a free newsletter was a godsend for a lone operator. Joining Social Change central as a Gold member and having access to minds like Anne’s and Jay’s is awesome … I just need to remember to make use of them more ! 😉

The Social Change Central changemaker community is growing at a fast rate. How can our members learn more about you and help support your organisation?

Members can follow Heart and Soul Story on Insta and Facebook. Definitely looking for anyone who can help with gaining funding and volunteers

And finally, what would you do if you found a lottery ticket that ended up winning $10 million?

Ok, I admit, I’d book a wee winter holiday for my family and I (my husband and three kids have been an incredible support for me on this uphill journey, and they probably don’t want to go camping this winter 😉 … but then I’d probably organise a coffee with Hugh, Andy Skidmore and 1-2 other trusted mentors to guide me as to how I best invest the money to grow the vision of Heart and Soul Story and figure out how to best deliver effective intergenerational story sharing programs between youth and our elders across our nation.

Are you a Social Change Champion? Want to be interviewed? Join as a Gold Member.

Jay Boolkin
Jay Boolkin

I'm passionate about positive social change and the power of social entrepreneurship to tackle some of the world’s biggest problems. I believe that for-purpose business models can become part of the mainstream and I am enthusiastic about advocating for business models that are genuinely built around a social or environmental mission.

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