My time as Khulisa’s Interim CEO

As we welcome back Dominique Airey from maternity leave, we say a fond farewell to Rohati Chapman who has been steering the Khulisa ship since January 2019. Here she reflects on the past 8 months as Khulisa's Interim CEO, the challenges, successes and what lies ahead for Khulisa.

When I joined Khulisa back in January, my aim was to support Khulisa to maintain a focus on impact and excellence in the final year of their 2017-2020 strategy. As I approach the end of my time at Khulisa, I have made a few reflections…

Partnership quality matters

Khulisa works with young people and individuals to break the cycle of social exclusion by putting wellbeing at the heart of rehabilitation. We deliver our therapeutically-led programmes in partnership with schools, prisons and community organisations and the quality of our direct delivery impact is intertwined with the quality of our relationship with our delivery partners. For many small charities, these relationships start as opportunistic and relational but over time the best parts of that approach has to be built upon and systematised. In the final year of our strategy period, we’ve revisited and improved the way we identify and partner with institutions and invested in developing a pipeline of values aligned partners that we hope to bring into our next strategy period from April 2020.

Look beyond the rhetoric of ‘growth’ and ‘impact’

If funders had ‘trigger words’, these two would undoubtedly be in the top 5. In our current strategy year, Khulisa has done all of the above. Financial growth has doubled since 2016 and progress against participant reach target is strong. What’s next for Khulisa is to re-examine lessons in growth and impact through the lens of programmes that are therapeutically-led, working with individuals that have high levels of complex needs and professionals who have high levels of compassion fatigue. As we approach the next strategy period, we must maintain our focus on delivering against partnership and strategic commitments; but we must also start some important conversations with our funders and supporters on what exactly meaningful growth and impact means for a small charity like Khulisa.

"We must be focussed on where we can add the most value, as part of a wider ecosystem working to create a kinder and safer approach to preventing social exclusion."

Bringing a therapeutic approach to the workplace can be positive

This is the first time I have worked somewhere with such a high proportion of therapeutically trained and experienced staff. Khulisa’s therapeutically trained team members work alongside individuals who specialise in finance, fundraising, policy and research. I have learnt so much from Khulisa on becoming trauma informed and have huge respect for our programme facilitators. They are imperfect, brave and caring individuals who are entirely motivated by being part of many peoples’ individual journeys. Although I believe that there needs to be a distinction between therapeutic values within a programme and what works at an organisational level, working with therapeutically trained colleagues has shown me the value of rituals such as ‘check in’ / ‘check out’ and restorative conversations, to improve connections between colleagues within a workplace. People will always be any organisation’s most important asset. I have learnt that taking on board aspects of a therapist ‘infused’ workplace culture can be a positive if deployed effectively. It is yet another reason that sets Khulisa apart from many of its peers.

Before signing out, I’d like to say thank you to the Khulisa team, board and supporters. It has been an honour to be part of Khulisa’s mission and I will continue to champion the importance of social and emotional wellbeing as an important element of early intervention.

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