September 2016

SI Central Birmingham



CENTRAL MATTERS                             SEPTEMBER 2016




Dates For Your Diaries



Tues 4 Oct Business meeting at QAC.
Tues 23 Oct Annual charter event.
Tues 1 Nov Business meeting at QAC
13 Dec The Christmas meal – 6.30pm, at the White Swan in Harborne. Jean Nutt taking bookings.


Tues 15 Nov Wine Tasting Evening and Buffet, at QAC, 6.30pm for 7pm. Tickets £20 per head. Email bookings via Jean Nutt.



Other Clubs

21 – 23 Oct SI Bromsgrove & Redditch are celebrating their 50th anniversary with a weekend programme of events, including a behind the scenes tour of the RSC at Stratford and a visit to Harvington Hall. For information contact Margaret Toole at or 07594456485.
Sun 30 Oct SI Leamington & Warwick are running their 19th Annual Soroptimist Swimathon at the Sports Centre at Warwick School. Starts at 11 am and ends 3 pm. Sponsorship will go to Warks & Northants Air Ambulance, and DEBRA (supporting individuals/families affect by Epigermolysis Bullosa. Info from


Thurs 24 Nov SI Solihull & District invite you to a Fashion Workshop at John Lewis, Touchwood, Solihull. Drinks and canapes 6pm. Workshop starts 6.30pm. Tickets £10 from Mrs Elaine Stephens, 33 Stapenhall Road, Solihull B90 4XX. In support of Look Good Feel Better (a charity helping ladies struggling with visible signs of cancer treatment).



The Next Club Meeting


The next Club supper meeting will be on Tuesday 4 October 2016 at QAC, 6.30 for 7pm start.



Birmingham Cathedral

(The Parish Church that became a Cathedral)



A fascinating insight into the transformation of St Philip’s Church into a cathedral, mirroring Birmingham’s development from a small town into a city, was given by Jane McArdle, Heritage Manager at the Cathedral, at our supper meeting on 20 September 2016. The Cathedral has Grade 1 listed building status, and is a rare survival of English Baroque style.


Birmingham originally developed around the Bull Ring, with St Martin’s as its main parish church. By the late 1600s/early 1700s, with the growing influx of people into the town, St Martin’s had become insufficient to house the congregation, and the burial ground was overfull. Bishop Hough of Lichfield petitioned (and was granted), through an Act of Parliament and Queen Anne, the right to build a new church.


The Bishop appointed Commissioners, the equivalent of a modern-day steering committee, made up of dignitaries from local wealthy and influential families including Holte, Digby and Andrew Archer to oversee the work, which began in 1711. The land for the church was given by the Philips’ family, hence the name St Philip’s, on high ground some way from the existing town centre. The Baroque-style church was designed by Thomas Archer (brother of Andrew), Groom Porter to Queen Anne, and consecrated on 4 October 1715. The tower, including a weathervane, was a later addition (by 1825) due to the munificence of Richard Gough (Calthorpe Estate). The original apse was extended into a chancel by JA Chatwin during 1884-8, together with a more focal point for the organ, large columns, windows and gilding.


The area around the church square was developed, with Georgian houses to one side (demolished during the 1950s to make way for House of Fraser), and the Blue Coat School, which had (and still has) very close links with the church. The church was the centre of the Triennial Music Festival until it moved to the Town Hall.


Birmingham became a city in 1889. Bishop Charles Gore, then Bishop of Worcester, and Joseph Chamberlain campaigned for the establishment of a separate diocese of Birmingham (until that time it had moved between Staffordshire and Worcester), and St Philip’s was selected as its Cathedral in 1905. Bishop Gore became the first Bishop of Birmingham.

One of the great glories of the Cathedral is the stained glass windows designed by Edward Burne-Jones, who was born in nearby Bennett’s Hill and baptised in the church, and created in the workshop of William Morris. The windows were removed and stored in a Welsh slate during World War II.

The Birmingham Cathedral website states that “the windows in the chancel were paid for by Miss Emma Villiers Wilkes, in memory of her brother and she maintained a strong interest in their subject matter and design. Forbidding the inclusion of oxen in the final design!  They are considered characteristic of Burne-Jones’ later style – elongated bodies with small heads in relation to body length and designs which divide in two equal halves, horizontally. This technique separates heaven from earth in each of the windows … They demonstrate Burne-Jones’ immense skill and the fine craftsmanship of William Morris & Co. They are known for their vibrancy, the life-likeness of the figures, their ability to tell a story and their inspiring and dramatic qualities. The windows are an inspiration for both artists and Christians”.


Margaret Cannadine


Regional Study Workshop 2016


(Saturday 17 September 2016, Worcestershire County Cricket Club)


Presentations was given by:


and two short films were shown about the work which the Dutch SI is undertaking in association with UNICEF to rebuild schools for Syrians in Turkey, and the raffle was in aid of the Diamond Education Grant.


The Children’s Society


Or, more correctly, The Church of England Children’s Society, was founded in 1881 by Edward Rudolph, a Sunday School Teacher, who was appalled by the number of children begging on the streets. Having petitioned the Archbishop of Canterbury, children’s homes were set up – 110 by the end of World War 1 housing some 5,000 children. By the 1950s/60s adoption has become the norm.


Goal: a country (the Society only works in England) where children are free from disadvantage.

Mission: fight for change, supporting disadvantaged children to have better lives

Hubs: Birmingham, Leeds, London, and Manchester.

Support: offered to children in many ways, including: counselling runaways, young carers and refugees on their own with no family support; ending child poverty; and teaching children about sexual exploitation.


Specific Campaigns:


  • Seriously Awkward Campaign: lobbying: for protection and social justice for 16/17 year old children, who are often disadvantaged because of the lack of continuity in the laws covering the 16/18 age range.
  • Education Ambassadors: some 16,000 children, i.e. 1 in 20, are at risk of child sexual exploitation.
  • Seen and Heard Campaign: to help children avoid entrapment, sometimes through international blackmail.


What can we do?

  • Fundraising and donating
  • Volunteering
  • Lobbying


Education in the Prison Environment


Teaching work, particularly at HMP Rye Hill Prison near Rugby, where some 640 category B (long sentences) prisoners, all of whom are sex offenders, are housed. Whilst every prisoner must attend either education or industries (work) while in prison, it appeared that there were several barriers to the delivery of education, including:


  • prisoners received lower remuneration if they attended education;
  • the educational level of the prisoners is often low, e.g. learning difficulties, limited English of foreign nationals;
  • often seen as an add-on;
  • insufficient staff;
  • impact of prison regime on education (long periods of lock-down); and
  • unclear whether the Government would be introducing the Educate to Re-habilitate programme.


Nevertheless, benefits did accrue to prisoners, including


  • development of creative writing skills;
  • learning to read;
  • development of landscape gardening;
  • success in NVQs in Horticulture, Catering and Sport Science to Level 3;
  • daily activity programme for over 65s; and
  • work displayed at the Supreme Court through the Koestler Trust and Reform Trust.


What can we do?


  • Lobby for the improvement of prison conditions, especially in the field of education.



  • Regional Meeting, 10 December 2016 at QAC: speaker Jayne Senior, “whistle-blower” of the Rotherham sex abuse ring
  • Regional Study Day, March 2017 at Wolston: United Nations, particularly UNICEF
  • SI Solihull and District, 6.00 pm 25 November 2016, Fashion Show at John Lewis, Solihull
  • Programme Action Poster Competition: four entries, winner SI Solihull and District
  • Communications: new banners now available; further details available from Ann Keepax


Margaret Cannadine

Sarah Francis