This much-loved session of Conference really does showcase the Best of the Best. It was a difficult choice for our Assistant Programme Directors, but six worthy winners, one in each category, were finally selected. The winners all gave a presentation of their winning Project, and received their Certificates from Programme Director Kay Richmond.
Best Practice Awards Leaflet
There is a leaflet available showing the Best Practice Awards, that can be printed double-sided and folded for publicity purposes.
The winners are shown below. The presentations they gave are included in PDF format with Speaker Notes:
SI Newcastle-upon-Tyne for their survey “Specialist Domestic Violence Courts – how special are they?
How many women suffer unfair treatment in the Special Domestic Violence courts? We ask the question, ’How special are they?” How long can we continue to allow unfairness? Dame Vera Baird, along with the Soroptimist Clubs in Northern England instigated action to change this by observing procedures and behaviours in the law courts. This was undertaken by volunteer court observers, mainly from the North of England Soroptimists and trained by CPS and the Courts Service, observed 223 cases over a 5 month period. They found a significant number of gaps in the system but that if both funding and training were improved SDVCs would work as was originally intended
The findings included in 12 out of 21 not guilty pleas, defendants changed their plea to guilty on the trial date, as soon as the victim entered the court building. One judge commented about defendants ‘gaming the system.’
Specialist Domestic Violence Courts should do more to stop defendants ‘gaming the system’, improve the courts understanding of coercive control and provide Independent Domestic Abuse Advocates at every stage to help complainants and victims.
Action is being undertaken to transfer this knowledge and understanding of this issue in the endeavour to change the judicial system, educate, empower, enable women in our equality generation and work towards achieving Soroptimist Goals and the 2030 Agenda, “Leaving no one behind”.
SI Chennai for their “Vocational Training Centre for Women”
The women of the Vysarpadi slum were looking to augment their family’s income by learning a skill and using it effectively. They approached SI Chennai and, with the help of a sizable donation from a kind-hearted donor, the Vocational Training Centre with a tailoring unit was started on March 8th 2018, International Womens’ Day.
Shine Trust, an NGO who had been helping SI Chennai with projects in the area, lent the space to start the unit and agreed to oversee the running of the unit. SI Chennai bought 5 sewing machines and employed a teacher. There were 30 women in the first course. The classes are divided into morning and evening sessions with 15 women in each session, 5 days a week. At the end of the course, the women have successfully learnt to tailor skirts, children’s clothing, sari blouses.
The women are so proud of their newly acquired skills. We are in talks with dealers to give them some employment generation. One entrepreneur has shown interest to employ them to make ecofriendly cloth bags as has a high end dress designer for doing simple jobs involved in couture.
SI Pune Metro East for their “Girls moving forward 2010 to 2019” project
The aim of this project was to improve the lives of young girls from marginalised sections of society and to encourage members’ involvement in the process.
Most of the girls who have taken part in the SI Pune Metro East project are first generation learners, and although they attended school, a huge gap existed between formal education and necessary life skills required to lead a productive life. The ‘Girls Moving Forward’ modules were designed to bridge this gap.
The first modules were basic modules like Personal Grooming, First Aid, Nutrition, Home Budgeting etc.
In 2014 a more structured year-long programme was designed for greater impact. A “Train the trainer “programme was conducted to train members to enhance their involvement depending on their area of expertise.
Since 2014 the programme has been conducted in partnership with Deepgriha, an NGO that works with marginalised communities and in 2016 the modules were linked to the SDGs for greater impact.
Some of the modules included: self-awareness, personal grooming and etiquette, Menstrual hygiene, nutrition, financial literacy and many more.
The impact on the girls has been tremendous. Coming from backgrounds where discrimination, indifference and violence are common place, meeting women who treated them with respect and as equals made a huge difference to the girls’ self-esteem. The sessions taught them different ways to handle situations of violence and abuse and greater confidence and better communication was evident after the life skill modules.
Their aspiration had taken wings.
SI Madurai for their “Go Green Exhibition”
SI Madurai organised an organic fair to provide a platform for environmentally sustainable practices by woman entrepreneurs, local farmers, artisans and others dealing in organic, eco-friendly goods to link them and the public to promote the new business ideas.
This 3 day exhibition had 125 stalls which were given free of cost to the participants. Hoardings were displayed all over the city and on the road. A promotional video was posted on social media. 20 newspapers carried the news articles. Notices were given to all government and educational institutions to encourage them to visit the exhibition. Wide range of eco-friendly products were under one roof for sale. Competitions were organised.
6000 people visited the exhibition daily. This event was covered by the print and electronic media. All India Radio did a 1 hour live coverage. The government wants to do this annually. Certificates were given to student volunteers by SI Madurai. The Club donated 100 dustbins to the government.
Food Security and Healthcare
SI Grange over Sands for “Singing for Memory”
There are over 850,000 cases of dementia in the UK; two thirds of sufferers live in their own home and often lack social interaction. Singing can reawaken memories and for a short time restore a sense of identity.
This project started five years ago and is now a firmly established, well loved and respected service in the local community; 98% of the attendees are women. During 2018, 874.5 hours of volunteer work were needed to provide the 37 sessions. Each session involves 3 hours of work and the club manages the whole process with the vast majority of the volunteers being club members. Each session is a carefully structured programme using music therapy techniques. The format is the same each week so that there is a recognisable framework.
A new introduction during the last year has been the provision of a CD of 17 favourite songs and 43 page digital photo album for every attendee to enable them to relive happy memories in their own homes between sessions. The feedback has been very positive including a detailed thank you letter naming “The Soroptimists” being published in the local paper.
This project is targeted and demonstrates very positive outcomes for clients and their carers.
Violence and Conflict Resolution
SI Republic of Ireland for “Safe Home, Safe Community”
All the Clubs in the Republic of Ireland took part in the National Association’s project, which involved raising awareness of domestic violence with the aim of preventing Violence Against Women.
Specially designed bookmarks were handed out to schools, hospitals, sports clubs, surgeries and other institutions. Lectures were given at universities, and the government were lobbied to improve legislation around domestic abuse.
One Club sponsored three students to attend the Safe World Summit in Dublin.
Congratulations to all our worthy winners.