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President’s April 2020 Message

Isobel Smith, SIGBI President 2019-2020Hello

So much has happened due to coronavirus (COVID-19) and so much has not happened this month.   We are in social isolation.  The experience of this is different for us all.  Many of us live on our own, many of us are in the ‘at risk’ category and some of us are in the shielded category. Some of us may be working in the NHS or other key worker roles and many of us may have signed up to volunteer or return to work.

I know from members, who I have spoken to, that many have feelings of anxiety, loneliness, disappoint at the cancelling of events, engagements, holidays and meetings and are feeling the effects of not meeting with other members, family, friends and loved ones and some members have lost income, and some, their jobs.  In addition, I know some of us have relatives in hospital or relatives and friends with the virus and we cannot visit them or had operations postponed.  It all presents a possible physical health risk and a mental health risk.

I know many, if not all, Regions/National Associations/Countries and Clubs have strategies in place to stay in touch with members, there has never been a time, in my lifetime, that personally I have understood the importance of contact with others.   Being part of a membership organisation plays such an important part in my life and I am sure in yours, too.

The Board is still meeting using Go To Meeting and Programme work is still active using petitions, advocacy and fundraising via sponsorship and donations.  Not everyone has access to digital communication and it is here that phone contact comes into its own.

The SI Future Africa Conference has been postponed till next year.  This is where I get to celebrate the fact that in March, Africa became our fifth Federation.  I have sent letters to each of our SIGBI Clubs and our congratulations to the SI Future Africa Federation Executive Committee.  The members have worked hard and shown commitment and determination to achieve this over the last 10 years.  We will continue to support the new Federation and our friendship will continue through our Friendship Links and through our Project work.

We have been working hard on our website and it will launch again shortly.  The training webinars are scheduled over April, look out for them in the mailing.

I want you to know that we are keeping an eye on the Belfast Conference.  I and members of the Belfast Conference Committee and the Trading Board had a risk analysis meeting and we are working with the ICC and the Hilton to be able to delay any decisions until the end of June.  I hope by then we will be in a very different situation with coronavirus (COVID-19) and will be able to come together and celebrate in Belfast.  We will keep you updated over the next months.

The world is a very different place from the one I wrote about at the start of March.  This is the time when friendship and caring comes into its own.  Let’s all reach out to one another and make sure we are physically safe and as mentally safe as we can be.  Stay in touch with each other.

Isobel Smith
Federation President 2019-2020

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