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Thursday 29 October 2020 – Federation Programme Action Committee

The FPAC meeting was introduced and compared by SIGBI Programme Director, Kay Richmond. All the presentations from the day speak for themselves, and are included below. They are in PDF format including speaker notes.

  1. Introduction from Isobel Smith
  2. Cluster Presentations from Asia, Caribbean and Europe
    1. Asia
    2. Caribbean
    3. Europe

There followed a Q&A Session. Questions asked and a summary of the responses were:

  1. Do you think how we deliver PAC has changed as a result of lockdowns and meeting restrictions?

Yes the way we deliver our projects has changed. They have been tailored to meet social distancing requirements, and delivering information by webinars has become prevalent. There have also been benefits to holding virtual meetings, such as being able to join in other Clubs’ meetings, even Clubs in other Federations. Speakers are also easier to engage as they don’t have to travel to venues.

2. Have clubs been able to recruit new members during lockdown and the pandemic? If so, how? We need new members to continue the projects.

Clubs have invited non-Members to zoom meeting and they have been interested to learn about the activities of the Club. Fundraising has been amazing, with online facilities being used. It has enabled Region/National Association Membership Officers to attend Club meetings, or hold meetings in remote areas with a view to starting new Clubs. Some people have expressed a desire to meet the Club members before committing themselves to joining, but hopefully these people will join at a later date when face-to-face meetings are possible again. Several Clubs have inducted new members on zoom meetings, and some new members like not having to physically attend meetings due to other commitments. Johanna will be looking at virtual clubs as a way forward during her presidential year.

3. It would be useful to put together a list of creative ways which clubs have found to raise funds during the pandemic.

Nisha, as incoming PR & Marketing Director, will look at ways in which fundraising can take place online, and producing YouTube videos to disseminate more information to Clubs. Videos produced by SIGBI need to be structured to make it easy to find the video you need.

4. Zoom meetings are great but how do we support those members who are not online?

Members who can zoom should help those who cannot access this technology. Relatives who are in the member’s bubble could help them to join in zoom meetings, or other members could form a bubble with less IT literate members, in order to be able to include them. If none of this is possible, then a buddy system should ensure that remote members are contacted by phone regularly and kept up to date with news.

5. What about women suffering domestic abuse in their own homes. Could we be doing anything specifically for these women?

Clubs should ask their local women’s refuge what support they need. It may be a case of providing food and essential items. They could offer, via Facebook, a private messenging service so that if they receive a message they can pass it on to the appropriate authorities. It can be difficult for women to make phone calls in secret, but if they are able to do this, there are resources on the UKPAC website with phone numbers for them to ring which will not appear in their dialled number list. The Domestic Abuse Bill is going through the UK parliament at the moment, and there are opportunities for Soroptimists to advocate for the amendments which are on the UKPAC website. It’s important to do this now as the opportunity to influence the bill will not be around for long.

There was a short 10 minute break at this point.

After a short introduction by Programme Director, Kay Richmond, the Assistant Programme Director’s gave presentations on their focus areas:

  1. Working together for the future good of all – Yvonne Freeman, APD Partnership
  2. Let’s begin with Peace – to build back better – Nisha Ghosh, APD Peace
  3. Ensuring that all have access to essential services – Yvonne Gibbon, APD People
  4. Protect and Invest – to eradicate inequalities in our societies – Carol Infanti, APD Prosperity
  5. Climate change and saving our planet – Naina Shah, APD Planet

This session was followed by another Q&A session. Questions asked and a summary of the responses were:

  1. Should we as a Federation (either a stand alone or with partners) start a project to provide girls with appropriate technology to learn on-line? Some years ago SIGBI looked at a partnership with WAGGS. Is it worth re-visiting?

Nisha said that the Programme Action Officer in her Club was putting together a paper on digital education that she would share with members when available.

2. Has the current pandemic damaged WHO credibility as guardians of Global Health or has it enhanced its reputation?

WHO are doing their best to ensure that innoculations will be available in all countries, and to increase collaboration across the whole world, but currently countries are locking down and becoming more insular. The only way to get to the end of this pandemic is for countries to work together, and the actions of some countries in working on their own, locking their borders and not sharing is not going to help. The rich countries need to help the poor countries, and the rich people in both rich countries and poor countries need to help the poor people everywhere, because unless we share, we will be sharing the virus forever. Kay recommended that people should follow the advice issued by WHO which was the most consistent.

3. How can Soroptimists influence government policy decisions, as many of these proposals being presented suggest? In our advocacy work we set limitations on what we can do. Has the time come to get involved at a different, and more effective level in our advocacy activities?

We could be much more effective in our advocacy. SIGBI will be looking for a panel to address the issue of advocating on contentious and sensitive issues.

4. Given the latest tragic loss of a migrant family trying to get from France to England  and our work on Human Trafficking – does FPAC/SIGBI have a stance on how things could be improved and how Soroptimists can help?

UKPAC sit with the Human Trafficking Forum, and lots of Clubs work with their local Human Trafficking/Modern Day Slavery networks to try to have influence. A couple of years ago a survey was conducted on the general public’s knowledge of Human Trafficking and Modern Day Slavery, and we do have access to training materials from the University of Nottingham about how to raise awareness. The UK has laws in place to help migrants and asylum seekers, some of which are not being adhered to at the moment, so Soroptimists have a role to play in lobbying to ensure that the laws which do exist are upheld, and also in raising awareness in our communities of the signs of Modern Day Slavery so that the appropriate local authorities can be alerted. In the case of unaccompanied children, perhaps Soroptimists could volunteer to be “proxy Grandparents” to help them get appropriate guardianship, although safeguarding issues would need to be considered.

5. Does this all have to be UN, WHO or State led? What can we do at Club level?

The work we do is local, but Clubs should understand that every bit of work done gets reported on the database, and goes upwards to the SI UN Representatives. It’s important we educate ourselves on the UN, and that activities are reported on the SIGBI Database. It had been noticed that a project undertaken by a SIGBI Club had been picked up by SI and included in an SI report to the UN. Local projects are also important for attracting new members. Different things attract different people – some may just want to do local projects, others may like the international aspect. Make sure that members read the SIGBI News Briefings as there are lots of ideas in them that can be replicated. The most important thing is that every Soroptimist does something, it doesn’t matter what or how much they do. Collectively, a lot can be achieved.

Johanna Raffan

Incoming President Johanna Raffan thanked Kay for an excellent session, and reiterated that our work with women and girls must remain at the forefront of what we do. Girls are affected much more by the COVID-19 pandemic and education must be a priority for Soroptimists.

A Moving forward to 2021 presentation concluded the meeting.

Comments posted in the Networking Room were very positive, congratulating Kay and the Programme Team on a professional, clear and excellently paced meeting. Well done to all concerned.