A Not So SWIFT Ending
Endings are never easy to manage even when there is knowing and acceptance that it is the best decision.
I recently met up with members of SWIFT (Support for women, providing information, friendship and training), a group for women in business in the Skipton area. This was the first time since before Coronavirus. Much has changed. Although contact has been maintained throughout the pandemic with individuals or via modern technology, the in-person meetings and events have not happened. The landscape and face of businesses has changed, some adapted, some closed, some completely re-invented. The discussion of whether to continue SWIFT was unavoidable. For numerous reasons it felt like the right time to call it a day. I was, however, ill prepared for the feelings of sadness that descended later that day.
Within a month of opening Being Better in Skipton 4 years ago I was told that SWIFT group for women in business would be a good opportunity to meet people and network. I had no idea what to expect and was understandably apprehensive venturing into my first meeting. It quickly became apparent that SWIFT was much more than women in business. Businesses were promoted but there was thankfully an absence of ‘hard sell’ philosophies. Ironically the supportive, friendly environment of varied businesses meant that business was generated organically with shedloads of goodwill. I genuinely credit the support of SWIFT as an integral part of the growth of Being Better. Showcasing businesses was a feature, enabling promotion and learning about the numerous services and products available in Skipton. This meant that whatever the need, someone from SWIFT could provide it, from hypnotherapy to horticulture. There was something life affirming about women running businesses or community projects. Swift support on social media also meant offers and new developments were collaboratively shared via the hub or noticeboard.
Fundraising to benefit the local community was fundamental to SWIFT, from small scale raffles and auctions to a lavish ball. Whatever the size or cause the heartening aspect was that products, services and time were given readily and freely.
Running your own business or being a sole trader can be isolating. Drawing on others for business wisdom or calling on the expertise of others is invaluable but the most crucial part for me were the female friendships formed with fellow ‘Swifties.’ Running a business is time consuming, particularly with a fledgling business, with little time for socialising. Every meeting had a social element and laughter, a monthly opportunity to touch base with friends. SWIFT social events meant catch ups at a more relaxed pace and generally involved supporting another business in the process.
We had adjusted to the lack of monthly meetings and understood that people were working hard to recoup losses endured or were beginning new chapters. The friendships and connections made at SWIFT transcend the meetings and will continue. I will always think of the SWIFT years fondly and I’m thankful to have been a part of it.