President Pam’s Message 2014-15


 

President Pam Cairns presented ‘The Year Ahead’ at the Regional Council Meeting in St Andrews, November 2014.

Pam Cairns

Pam Cairns

 

My theme for the year is:  Women Working Together to Change Lives.

We have heard many times before that Scotland North, like most regions in the Federation, has an aging membership and sadly is failing to attract younger members.  For this reason I believe clubs must be prepared to work together with some of our bigger projects.

Some recent examples of this come to mind:

Prison Reform: clubs have worked together to build up a profile of the Women’s Prison Service in our region. An excellent piece of work and the report is eagerly awaited.

Bridge Walk: Tay Bridge walk in aid of the BIG project. A horrible wet day in the summer but Soroptimists from several clubs joined SI Dundee for this event. Raising funds and raising our profile.

The Modern Day Slavery -MDS- Resolution – SI Dundee and SI Crieff worked together to present this to SIGBI conference last year.  Much has been achieved in this first year but there is still so much more to do.

Staying on the MDS theme 12 Scotland North members, plus members from Scotland South, spent the day on Sauchiehall Street at the UNGIFT Box during the Commonwealth Games raising awareness of modern day slavery.

Attendance at Parliamentary Committees: Soroptimists from different S North clubs:  eg Cross party Committee on Human Trafficking.

Last week: SI Crieff held an Open Night inviting members from other clubs. This is a great way of ensuring a good turn out for quality speakers. Andy Bevan from International Justice Mission spoke to Soroptimists / Rotarians and young people about MDS.

Open Meetings:

I believe open meetings are a wonderful opportunity to

  • Raise the issue affecting women and girls.
  • Raise our profile.
  • Attracting new members

So I would encourage you to make as many of your events open to:

  • neighbouring clubs
  • to your friends and
  • your communities as possible.

 

Region meetings are Open Meetings so invite your friends to come along.

Over the last few months your executive has considered the good and the bad of region meetings.

To try and make hosting easier for clubs we have produced guidelines / checklist. Hopefully this will help with the smooth running of these meetings.

Not only are region meetings an opportunity for members to:

  • be updated on Federation and other Soroptimist matters
  • be updated on Programme Action work
  • hear from quality speakers on subjects that matter to us

but they are also an opportunity to enjoy the company of friends old and new.

To achieve this we have altered the start time by quarter an hour to allow for a break after the council meeting.  Executive officers will give a brief report: a fuller account will be sent to all members within a couple of weeks of the meeting. The aim is to have an efficient council meeting to enable us to proceed to the other activities of the day.

At our region meetings we want to have a positive, friendly atmosphere where ideas can be exchanged and new information gathered.  We want everyone who attends to feel that the day has been worthwhile.

I am a Soroptimist because I genuinely believe we are far more than a social club we can make a difference — if we work together, we can change lives.

Let me give two examples:

Firstly,

Some of you will know that since my retirement I have written two novels, both issues based fiction. The books, which are all for charity, deal with issues such as the life of the street child and MDS; I regularly give talks to groups on theses issues remembering to speak of the work of Soroptimists.

Knowing that I planned to write another book my Soroptimist friend Avril Duncan, SI Perth, invited me to join her team on their trip to India. There we visited an NGO working in the red light district of the city of Pune. We met sex workers, over 90 % of whom had been trafficked. For us, this was where the theory of MDS and the reality collided.

Worse still we met 40 children of sex workers- who were living in two rooms across from the brothels.

We, our team, have decided to rescue these kids by building a home for them well away from the brothels. SI Pune and SI Pune Metro East have been helping us with this. I would like Seema’s Children’s Home to be the Region Charity this year. This will certainly change lives.

Second example:

Dundee Woman’s Aid held a 40th Anniversary Dinner in the Apex hotel in October; SI Dundee was asked to help with this. President Norma not only helped them she became a Trustee!  Several of us attended this event.  Dundee Provost and guests now know all about Soroptimists and modern day slavery thanks to Norma’s effort and enthusiasm…. Other developments have come out of this event.

These are events I know about.

One of the other tasks I have is to keep the Scotland North Website up-to-date:

I plan to use this to showcase your work so please send me your photographs plus a short article about your event.

Send to pam.cairns@googlemail.com

UN and ECOSOC

We should never forget that our presence at the UN and ECOSOC means we can influence governments. -Another reason that I am a Soroptimist we can make a difference-.  But we must remember that our continued membership is dependant on us providing evidence of the work we do. Hence the importance of Programme Focus Report …more later.

In conclusion let’s be positive:

We can achieve much if we work together.

We can and will make a difference in the lives of women and girls locally, nationally and internationally.

Pam

President Scotland North.