This year has been like no other in our lifetime and hopefully, will not be repeated for the whole of the coming year. In spite of not being able to have meetings and very few events in person, the club has adapted to finding ways of carrying on and keeping members in touch with each other. We have our President to thank for many of these initiatives and her unstinting efforts to make contact and keep us up to date with news, meetings online and her big smile!
Many of our regular activities have been cancelled or postponed during lockdown but donations have been sent to many of the charities we support as in other years.
Scrubs bags, Face masks and Blankets
In the first lockdown the hospital requested scrub bags for staff to put their clothes in for washing at the end of a shift. Unwanted pillowcases and sheets were unearthed and converted by several members into scrub bags and delivered to the hospital.(Those printed with fairies looking like angels were the favourites!) Face masks were made for friends and family and face mask headbands crocheted for nurses etc. Other members have throughout the year been knitting and crocheting blankets for the elderly in hospital. Several batches have been delivered and very gratefully received. (The recipients can take them home with them when they leave hospital.)
Education in Cape Verde
We have continued to support a girl in the Cape Verde Islands to enable her to continue with her education and have recently received an up-to-date general news letter from Jill Delgado who, because of Covid restrictions, has been stuck on the islands since going out on holiday before Christmas. We hope to have more specific news when she gets home.
Members have been asked to keep collecting the usual items for recycling – empty ink cartridges, used pens, old/broken jewellery, stamps, bras etc.- and when we can meet in person again, I will collect items to either take to a Regional meeting or give to the Alzheimer’s branch in Bridgend for their research charity.
Of course. our tombola stalls didn’t happen at various fairs and garden parties this year so reducing our fund raising.
Parc Prison Snack Bar
Volunteers haven’t been able to help at Parc Prison but are still in touch with Barnardo’s there so that they can resume their support when Covid restrictions are lifted.
As ‘Teas for the Elderly’ couldn’t be held in peoples’ homes this year, the organiser and some volunteers arranged the delivery of ‘food gift boxes’ in the summer, (as their usual summer outing couldn’t take place) at Christmas time, St. David’s Day and Easter to the very appreciative ladies we normally support. Thanks to everyone who helped.
Calan DVS and Domestic Violence Services
Similarly we have kept in touch with CALAN DVS who are still running the refuges and support services for Domestic Abuse in Bridgend for the moment. Two members organised Christmas gifts for the children and mothers there and other members were asked to donate money or toiletries towards these gifts.
A useful Zoom meeting was held with a few members and a few officers and 2 Councillors from Bridgend County Borough Council to discuss the tendering process for the next contract to run the Domestic Violence, slavery and trafficking issues for the council and ensure that adequate (or indeed, increased) services are provided locally. They promised to keep us informed but the process won’t be completed until May or June.
Empowering Girls in Nepal
Very sadly the Federation Project initiated by our club, Empowering Girls in Nepal was terminated by the Federation executive when ChoraChori UK and ChoraChori Nepal were no longer working together. ChoraChori UK has now become Pipal Tree and continues doing very similar work with girls in Nepal. The Club wrote to the Federation President about the way the whole process had been handled. The reply was disappointing seeing how much time, effort and commitment had been put into the project especially by 2 members of the club. The club will decide shortly whether they will continue to support the project in Nepal through Pipal Tree.
16 Days of Activism
16 Days of Activism (against slavery and trafficking) in November/ December was remembered mainly with messages of support on different orange backgrounds being posted by the club and individual members on social media. Members were reminded to wear orange for our Zoom meeting on the 25th of November. Internationally many members wear orange on the 25th of every month and maybe some of our members could too. Slavery and trafficking remain high on the list of Programme Action topics that we can support by lobbying and keeping in touch with what is happening in South Wales particularly through our Region.
The International President’s night in December was celebrated on Zoom with our Regional president, members from other South Wales clubs and members from our Friendship club in Courtney, British Columbia, Canada. The evening started with a slide show and commentary by members of the flags of countries in SIGBI and then contributions of music and reminiscences, Christmas customs were given by various members, finishing with a slide show of Bridgend member’s participation in our mostly ‘lockdown’ 9 months. A thoroughly entertaining evening. Members sent donations for the International President’s appeal “The Road to Equality”.
Climate Change and Tree Planting
One of our Zoom speakers in the Autumn was Megan Howells from the South and West Wales Wildlife Trust at Parc Slip. Her talk was about Climate Change and the work the Trust are doing, (this had been postponed in the Spring). Before and since then, we have kept in touch with her about planting trees in a new Community orchard in Parc Slip and one member was able to give her some advice about local species. We have been looking for ways to plant trees locally to celebrate 100 years of Soroptimist International this year. The council were approached a few times and were unresponsive but the Trust are happy to include us in the planting of 100 orchard trees and the maintenance of them in coming years. As we have still been in lockdown the past few weeks, we have heard that many of the trees had to be planted by staff to get them into the ground before flowering but some have been kept for us to plant in the Autumn, the next planting season.
Thanks to our President and friends we were able to have an online fund raiser recently to support Mental Health charities in our area. Our Virtual Dog Show competition was very successful in attracting 100 entries before it ended. Thanks to our ‘whizzes’ and members on social media, it was advertised this way across South Wales, the Federation and family and friends in other countries! Each entry paid £5 and donations without images were received as well, so that the total raised is about £800 to date! The winner donated her monetary prize back to the charity and winners received a rosette and certificate!
There was a web page and an online gallery so that everyone could see the entries as they came in. The winners are pictured above – Freddie, very appropriately supporting the Welsh rugby team’s great victory this year!
My sincere thanks go to everyone for their support for the club’s Programme Action activities, however different they were this year. Let’s hope we can gradually do more when we are allowed to mix in person again.
Carys Brown, Programme Action Officer for SI Bridgend