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Region Programme Action Officer’s Report

Regional Programme Action Report – April 2022

Whilst restrictions have been lifted across the Region there continues to be a hesitancy amongst some members to return to full face to face meetings.  As a result some clubs are still operating on a hybrid meeting system with varying degrees of success.  Unfortunately SI Wallasey closed in March 2022 and we recall with pride and thanks all of the excellent work they have undertaken over the past 70+ years and we look forward to meeting members again should they join other Clubs.

With the lifting of restrictions Clubs across the Region have been able to either resurrect old projects or commence new ones. Members of Region continue to volunteer at Covid Vaccination Centres either vaccinating or stewarding as well as assisting in foodbanks, refuges and charities.

Recently Clubs across the Region have been able to donate to various charities significant amounts monies which have been raised through a variety of sources such as:

  • craft sales
  • charity dinners
  • sponsored walks/dance/races
  • quiz nights

Programme Focus Report Forms

These have continued to be completed however there is no point in quoting numbers here as they change on a daily basis.  Similarly the numbers of people who have benefitted from the many and varied activities is often a “guesstimate”.  Some Clubs are much better than others when it comes to completing PFRFs and so we do encourage everyone to complete them – it is our only way of demonstrating what we, as a Region, are doing.  The completed forms and activities reported show the vast range and diversity of projects or works being undertaken by Regional Clubs – for example Clubs have:

  • Donated significant amounts of food to various foodbanks
  • Continued to support Women’s Refuges
  • Supported local hospitals/care homes and hospices through a variety of activities such as knitting twiddle muffs, producing Mastectomy cushions
  • Donated thousands of pounds to help support cancer centres, rape crisis centres, as well as care communities
  • Continued to support homeless with the collection of crisp packets which are made into blankets.
  • Continued to support teachers and schools in both Africa and Asia
  • Donated bras, hygiene products and sanitary protection and other feminine products in Africa
  • Donated equipment to allow locals to make their own sanitary protection which they can then sell locally and with the basic materials being sourced locally thus providing both employment and an income in areas of great need.
  • Donating copies of the Brave Bear books to schools to raise awareness amongst children aged 8 to 10 of exploitation and to engage, educate, empower, and equip children to know how to keep themselves and others safe from exploitation.

Responding to world issues

With both the continued issues in Afghanistan and latterly the war in Ukraine Soroptomists in the Region were quick to respond collecting clothing, medical supplies and toys, working with local community groups to collate and dispatch these to areas of greatest need.  Individually Soroptomists donated to the Red Cross, Disaster Recovery as well as directly to SI Clubs in Europe or Ukraine who are actually ‘on the ground” and able to provide immediate assistance.

On the wider stage

In addition to the local and current overseas initiatives the Region has been involved heavily in the 3 key Working Groups from UKPAC.

Modern Day Slavery and trafficking

  • The Cheshire Anti Slavery Network has been slow to get off the ground (it’s last 2 meetings and a training day having been cancelled). However, Gillie O’Rourke and Anne MacDonald are both observers in this group and do get some interesting and relevant documentation which we are able to share.
  • The North Wales Anti Slavery Group continues to be involved with a variety of partners and is very active in lobbying as well as in carrying out practical work. Members of this group accompanied the Police in visiting hotels and guest houses in Llandudno to raise awareness of MDS and Trafficking.
  • UKPAC have produced posters and flyers regarding MDS which Clubs can (and have) taken for use in their areas. I have a new supply of these should Clubs want any more.

Special Domestic Violence Courts

  • Several months ago 4 members of Region attended a training session on acting as observers and report production at SDVC’s. SI Heswall has now taken the lead on this with some 8 members volunteering to attend.  Due to the fact that SDVCs do not currently exist in North Wales in the same manner and that the Cheshire court is now held in Warrington we are linking with South Lancs on this project. The reason for this is that it is easier for our Wirral members to get across to Liverpool than to Warington as well as the fact that SI Warrington are actually in S Lancs.  5 Regions are taking part in this initiative, the reports have to be completed by the start of September when they will be collated and recommendations made to appropriate bodies.  Watch this space to information.

Violence Against Women

  • The Group will be producing a toolkit for Clubs to use (should they so wish).
  • We are particularly keen that on the 25th of each month Clubs flood social media etc with an Orange the World post. To assist with this members of the Group are producing a blog on themes for each month. These themes include Domestic Violence, Stalking, Elder Abuse, Financal Abuse, Coersive Control.  Club Programme Action Officers have already received a briefing on this to share with Clubs for information.

The Barbara Dixon Award

At the February Conference 7 Clubs submitted projects for this award.  It was won by SI Rhyl with their Bee Project and the runner up was SI Bebington.

Charity Raffle money

We now have the final figures for money raised with the sale of raffle tickets at conference which will be donated to mental health charities working locally.  The chosen charities are:

  • Flynns Port in a Storm Crisis Centre             Cheshire
  • Wirral MIND             Wirral
  • CAIS (a rehab and mental health charity) North Wales

I am contacting these charities to try an arrange for them to attend a Regional Zoom Meeting during Mental Health Week (9-13 May) and to give us a 10 minute talk on the work they do.  More details will follow. 

 AGM Programme Action Reports

I would be very grateful if Club PAOs could send me their AGM reports in order that, as last year, I can collate information on all of their activities.  It was very well received last year and resulted in Clubs picking up ideas from others.

And it’s goodbye from me

I will only have one more report to write after this as I have been elected as Vice Chair of UKPAC with effect from end October 2022.  The Terms of Reference require that I give up the Regional Programme Action role.  It in no way impacts upon my year as Regional President (indeed the current Vice Chair is also President of SI Yorkshire).    So, we will need to find a new Regional Programme Action Officer (hopefully someone who could do a little bit of shadowing.

I have really enjoyed my time as Regional Programme Action Officer and I thank you for your support.

Gillie O’Rourke

 6 April  2022