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Region Programme Action Officer’s Report

Regional Programme Action Annual Report for the AGM September 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

 With the lifting of restrictions most Clubs across the Region have really been able to engage with other organisations and the public through a variety of events.  It is very interesting to note that the size of the Club is not important when it comes to external facing events – all it takes is a little imagination and commitment to get involved.

Throughout the year the majority of Clubs across the Region have been able to donate significant amounts of money to various charities either through the Club Presidents charities or as a result of fundraising throughout the year.

Programme Focus Report Forms

As stated in my previous report 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 (and without naming specific Clubs) Clubs have:

  • Completed their virtual walk to and from a school in Africa in order to support teachers there.
  • Continued to support a teacher in a different part of Africa.
  • Donated significant amounts of food to various foodbanks – some Clubs are doing this on a monthly basis whilst at others it is more ad hoc.
  • Continued to support Women’s Refuges
  • Supported local hospitals/care homes and hospices through a variety of activities.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Across the Region members of various Clubs have been doing amazing work with charities helping people with mental health issues or who are vulnerable in other ways.

The list is endless.

On the wider stage

Responding to world issues

Soroptimists in the Region have continued to collect clothing, medical supplies and toys for dispatch to war torn areas.  Some have been liaising with Clubs in Europe and are getting money or relief directly to those Clubs to assist with immediate relief.

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 North Wales Anti Slavery Group continues to be a beacon of involvement with other organisations. It has a very high profile both in the Region as well as nationally where its work and lobbying are very well respected.
  • By contrast The Cheshire Anti Slavery Network has had 3 meetings cancelled and it is not known what will happen to this Group.

Special Domestic Violence Courts

  • SI Heswall have been heavily involved with the SDVC with 7 members taking part in observations in Liverpool courts as well as contributing to the final report (details of which will be published nationally towards the end of the year).
  • As the Chester court moved to Warrington SI Warrington have been doing those observations.
  • Our Region has joined forces with S Lancs on this project and it is seen as a very positive move. Other Regions have also combined to ensure that courts in their areas are observed.
  • Ahead of the publication of the final report there have been several common issues identified, particularly:

Better and more consistent training for those hearing cases is needed.

A detailed investigation is needed to understand the reasons why so many plaintiffs fail to turn up at court – is this down to distance (travel costs)/long timeframes for the case to come to court or are there other factors at play?

Violence Against Women

  • The UKPAC Group has produced blogs and posters for Clubs to use should they so wish. The blogs will be produced on a 3 monthly rotation and can be found on the UKPAC website.
  • As well as posters (which will be sent out to Clubs this week) we have produced small badges in orange bearing the message Soroptimist say NO to Violence Against Women (they are similar to the large badges which can be purchased from SIGBI but more wearable). We have enough badges for every member, they are free and will be sent to Clubs along with the posters.
  • A briefing note has also been produced for newer members explaining “why orange”. Some members think it is a newish Soroptimist idea when in fact it started 31 years ago, and comes under the UN Secretary General’s UNiTE banner.

Charity Raffle money

Cheques were eventually passed to the 3 charities identified with attendant publicity. The chosen charities are:

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

AGM Programme Action Reports

I ask 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.

International President’s Appeal

I attended the SI AGM last week and it was confirmed there that the current International President’s Appeal (Opening Doors to a Bright Future) would be the last one.  This appeal together with Road to Equality, Educate to Lead Nepal and any previous appeals have all been moved into the SI Foundation. SI Foundation was established in 2021, Sue Williams is the Foundation Chair and the Foundation will be looking at projects promoting benefits for the long term.   One of our members Hilary Laidler was singled out for special thanks by the Road to Equality for her wonderful work on the brooches.

Regional Programme Action Officer

As you know 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.

I am delighted to let you know that Iris Batman (currently Joint President SI Heswall) indicated a strong interest in becoming Regional PAO.  We have held several meetings and, once holidays are over, Iris will work with me prior to the September AGM and Regional Meeting.  I do hope that you will support Iris’s application as I know that she will do an excellent job and I am looking forward to working with her on UKPAC where she will be the Regional Rep.

Being your Regional PAO has been an immense honour and it has been absolutely fascinating to see the range and depth of work being undertaken by individuals and Clubs – a lot of which goes under the radar which is a great shame. The focus ranges though all activities from collecting for recycling right the way through to being extremely experienced lobbyists to acting as counsellors for people in need.    So, if I may, I leave you with this thought – shout about your achievements, that bushel is very dense and lights hidden under it don’t get seen (and sometimes other Clubs can pick up ideas).

My very best wishes for your continued excellent Programme Action work,

Gillie O’Rourke

19 July  2022