Introducing our new Social Work program!

For the past week on social media, we’ve been sharing some of the exciting things our social worker, Silvia, gets up to leading our new social work program. In this week’s blog, we’re sharing the bigger story behind the new program and why it is an exciting time for HOOP!

Home visit 1

As you guys know, we’ve been doing a lot of work in education over the past few years. Our after school program is stronger than ever, with the most subjects and highest student numbers since we started working in Flora Tristán. But our work in the community has also revealed a big need for other kinds of support. We wanted to find out more about the situation, so, in June 2015, we were lucky to be able to recruit a new volunteer social worker to do a community assessment.

After conducting interviews with 44 families we had enough information for our Social Survey Report. This was one of our most thorough assessments of the community to date, giving us new insights into topics like health, mental health, access to care, family and social relationships, and community support networks.

Our social worker did a great job. In fact, she built such strong and trusting relationships with the HOOP mums that we knew she was a great person to start addressing some of the issues identified in the report. And that’s how Silvia joined the team – to lead our ambitious and exciting new social work program. And she was kind enough to let us follow her around this week and put her all over our social media pages – thanks Silvia!

So I asked Silvia what she’s been working on so far: “This month we’re doing workshops on emotions and communication in the home. The mums have been really receptive when we talk about how they feel – what makes them happy, sad, or annoyed. Each month we are covering a different topic with weekly workshops.

“Last month we worked on trust-building and developing friendships. The survey showed a big lack of trust in the community – and more than a third of the mums in the survey said they had no friends at all. Some just didn’t see the point of friendship – even though it’s been shown to have a huge impact on quality of life. But a lot of parents said it’s something they’d like to improve in the community. So as well as workshops, we have a lot of other activities planned, and we are hoping to help people to start developing their own community activities.”

Our social work program goes further than this, with Silvia doing home visits – so it’s a good thing she’s a great listener (she’s also a great talker!). A certified psychologist called Marisol also offers free one-to-one sessions with parents once per week.

We have a lot of plans to help the families of Flora Tristán create a better sense of community. On top of our twice-weekly dance and fitness classes for mums, we have plans to help the community set up more of their own activities so the community can come together, make friends and build stronger social support networks.

Silvia undoubtedly has the most varied and exciting job at HOOP. She’s out in the community almost every afternoon, on the phone to different government services every week, or even heading to the government family law office to help support one of the mums.

So HOOP is growing – and you can help sustain our new social work program by donating to our latest $10,000 fundraising campaign. We’re planning to climb to more than 6,000m and break the world record for high altitude hula-hooping. The money raised will support a social worker and part time psychologist for a whole year (plus a whole load of other things!). Support us at

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