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Programme Director’s July 2020 Message

How is COVID-19 impacting on SDG2 Zero Hunger and SDG3 Good Health and Well-being?

A blog by the Assistant Programme Director for People, Yvonne Gibbon.


Before the pandemic, more than 820 million people regularly went to bed hungry. 135 million of those suffer from acute hunger largely due man-made conflicts, climate change and economic downturns. The COVID-19 pandemic could now double that number, putting an additional 130 million people at risk of hunger by the end of 2020, according to the World Food Programme.

In light of the pandemic’s effects on the food and agricultural sector, prompt measures are needed to ensure that food supply chains are kept alive to mitigate the risks to everyone, but especially on the poor and most vulnerable.

In order to address these risks, the Food and Agricultural Organization urges countries to:

  • Meet the immediate food needs of their vulnerable populations,
  • Boost social protection programmes,
  • Keep global food trade going,
  • Keep the domestic supply chain gears moving, and
  • Support smallholder farmers’ ability to increase food production.

What did Soroptimists do to help mitigate the challenge to Zero Hunger?

Many Clubs throughout the UK donated items, money and man hours to the local foodbanks. SIGBI donated £1000.00 each to the Trussell Trust and the National Emergencies Trust.

Soroptimists in Esperance Trinidad and their Comfort Hampers, responding to COVID-19

SI Esperance, Trinidad and Tobago, in partnership with a local girl’s school organised and delivered food hampers to local families in need with their ‘Hampers of Hope’ project.

Quote from a beneficiary, “I am able to look at my children now that I can feed them” “We thought we had been forgotten.Thank You!”


SI Barrow, UK, organised teams of bakers to provide tasty desserts for women and their families at their local Women’s centreMembers of SI Barrow, UK, organised teams of bakers to provide tasty desserts for women and their families at their local Women’s centre. The staff at the centre told of a ten-fold increase in referrals due to domestic abuse and poverty.

Quote from a beneficiary, “Star bakers! Thank you so much. We are overwhelmed by your kindness and reliability helping us to feed families who are in such great difficulty during Covid-19.” Rachael Hoggarth, Barrow Women’s Centre Manager.

SDG 3 Good Health and Well-being

Ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being at all ages is essential to sustainable development. Health emergencies such as COVID-19 pose a global risk, spreading human suffering and disrupting the lives of billions of people around the globe. The United Nations Development Programme highlighted the huge disparities in countries’ abilities to cope with and recover from the COVID-19 crisis. The pandemic provides a watershed moment for health emergency preparedness and for investment in critical 21st century public services.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is leading and coordinating the global effort, supporting countries to prevent, detect, and respond to the pandemic.

People and organisations who want to help fight the pandemic and support WHO and partners can donate through the COVID-Solidarity Response Fund for WHO at The fund supports WHO’s work to track and understand the spread of the virus, to ensure patients get the care they need and frontline workers get essential supplies and information and to accelerate research and development of a vaccine and treatments for ALL who need them.

How did Soroptimists help in the fight for good health and well-being?

Many Soroptimists from across the Federation contributed to providing essential supplies for frontline workers and local communities by making or donating materials to make masks, scrubs, scrub bags and mask extenders.

SI Bangalore, India, aimed to empower women during the lockdown by equipping them with the materials to make face masks

SI Bangalore, India, aimed to empower women during the lockdown by equipping them with the materials to make face masks, which were distributed freely to communities in need. Over 8000 face masks have been produced and the women’s livelihoods have been protected.

SI Cannock President Trish sewing masks

At the request of their local hospital and care home, SI Cannock and District made cloth masks for staff to use when not at work. 122 face masks were made by members in addition to uniform bags and head bands for masks.

Quote from a beneficiary, “These are so comfy! Thank you, Cannock Soroptimists.”


In addition, WHO together with partners, also provides guidance and advice for people to look after their mental health during the pandemic, especially health workers, managers of health facilities, people who are looking after children, older adults, people in isolation and members of the public more generally.

Many Soroptimist Clubs were keen to look after the mental health of themselves, other members and members of their communities. Most Clubs organised ring arounds for their members. Some Clubs sent cards or letters to people in the local communities such as care homes and others donated gifts to frontline workers and those most vulnerable within the communities.

SI Pretoria Tshwane, South Africa, regularly supports their local psychiatric hospital

SI Pretoria Tshwane, South Africa, regularly supports their local psychiatric hospital, but during the lockdown the psychiatric patients were prevented from receiving any visitors. The extra stress this was bringing to patients already in distress was heartbreaking. SI Pretoria Tshwane gave them some extra attention by supplying toiletries in a gift bag with a handmade art card containing an encouraging message.

Quote from a beneficiary. “Thank you so much, the donations are appreciated.”


Two Clubs in Trinidad and Tobago came up with some novel ideas. Members of SI Anaparima shared their preferred strategies for being kind to themselves and taking care of their mental health amidst the COVID-19 pandemic in a mini-video series entitled “My Mental Health Moment”. Each video lasting approximately 1-3 minutes showcased a member engaging in an activity for maintaining her mental health, and educating on the benefits of such, to empower others for Mental Health Awareness Month of May 2020. See their YouTube Channel. One example is below:

Quote from a beneficiary. “Such a great tip! It helps you to focus on the things you can control daily. Thanks” “We loved this entire series! Very, very well done!!”

SI San Fernando Coping with COVID Video SeriesSI San Fernando recognised that the period of lockdown during the pandemic was having a negative effect on children’s mental health. Parents lacked the knowledge to identify and deal with the effects that the pandemic was having on the mental health of their children and which manifested in behavioural issues. Si San Fernando engaged a child psychologist to produce a video series. The series was further extended by engaging high profile professionals to address other issues associated with children in lockdown.

Quote from a beneficiary, “This really helped with Elissa – she is really anxious over this pandemic”.

For further information on the Sustainable Development Goals, go to