Soroptimists are all about actions – we are ‘Women inspiring action, transforming lives”, and each year we celebrate with a Day of Action, where we reflect on what we are doing to help and transform the lives of women and girls. This year we are reflecting on how Soroptimists are staying connected with each other and with our communities during this global pandemic. Here are some examples: Staying Connected with each other: We have been staying connected with each other through video calls – meeting socially and to discuss ongoing projects. We use Zoom, and we also made sure we had the facility to allow telephone dial-in for people who didn’t want to use a video-calling service. Staying Connected with our partners: Many of the charities and projects we support have been significantly impacted by the global pandemic, with fundraising opportunities disappearing. We have continued to
SI Chester raises awareness of Modern Day Slavery (MDS) and Human Trafficking. We have given talks: Chester U3A University of Chester Healthcare Students Several local WI groups University Diversity & Inclusion Day Storyhouse Women’s Weekend Ali Ussery (Haven of Light) gave a talk at a Club Dinner to members from our club and other clubs in the region. We have lobbied the Police & Crime Commissioner about the lack of funding for the Cheshire Anti-Slavery Network, and we are hopeful that meetings will recommence in 2020. It is known that hotels can be used to provide a venue for sex slaves. We are checking the MDS Statements Re: Ethical Supply Chains on the websites of Chester Hotels. Our work comes under the umbrella of UN Sustainable Development Goals: 5 – Gender Equality. This seeks to end all forms of discrimination against women and to eliminate
If you are wondering if you can join this wonderful women’s organisation Soroptimist International during lockdown, the answer is: Yes you can! A new member joined Soroptimist International – Chester recently. SI Chester moved our meetings online, and that didn’t stop us welcoming a new member to the club. Pat (middle row, second from left) recently moved to the Chester area and was looking for friendship and community and was interested in joining our women’s organisation. We were pleased that our new member joined SI Chester at our monthly meeting in April despite the fact that we are Soroptimists In Lockdown. If you are interested in joining contact us here or email email@example.com
On the 12th June several club members made a visit to Stockport for a tour of Smartworks. This is a charity with six UK offices that aims to help long term unemployed women to get a job. Assistance may be offered to any woman who has a confirmed job interview for a paid position. Women are often referred via a Job Centre or a charity that supports women trying to get back into employment. The Charity offers not only clothes but confidence building in the run up to the interview. SI Chester members have agreed to adopt this as one of their projects for 2019 – 2020 and will be donating suitable clothes, as well as organising collections of clothes locally.
Storyhouse Women Weekend is a celebration of what it means to be a women or a girl in the world today, and a chance to explore and discuss topics that affect anyone who identifies as a woman or a girl. A safe space to discuss and tackle these issues together. There was a line-up of incredible women who shared their stories and experiences with Chester, and events to inspire and enable everyone to create change. On Friday, 26th April, Club Member, Jane, gave a short presentation on the Purple Community Fund (PCF) to 70 children from three local High Schools. Jane described how the schools could assist us by collecting ring pulls from drinks cans and Anne modelled some of the fabulous handbags made by the women in the Philippines. For more information about the clubs involvement click here. On Saturday Wendy gave another talk
Friends, family and fellow Soroptimists gathered together in Chester to celebrate the 4th anniversary for chartering the club. We held a successful quiz night at Westminster Park Community Centre with 20 tables competing for the main prize – a hamper of goodies. Quizzers were also able to buy raffle tickets and we raised a magnificent £671 for Classrooms in the Clouds. SI Chester have been supporting @CitCNepal over the last 3 years, and we were more than happy to raise extra funds for new projects and a proposed teacher exchange program to build on the Educate to Lead grant that they successfully bid for in 2017.
During the weekend of the 15th & 16th December members spent their time gift wrapping books in the City branch of Waterstone’s Book Shop. Customers were able to have their books beautifully wrapped whilst making a donation to one of our main Charities – Classrooms in the Clouds. We are currently trying to raise enough money to enable a teacher exchange programme between one of our local schools and a school in a very remote area of Nepal.
On Saturday, 15th December Chester: Suffragette City was held at the University to celebrate 100 years since women first voted in Chester. It was an interesting day with speakers including Emma Rees, Director of Chester’s Institute of Gender Studies, as well as Helen Pankhurst, granddaughter of Sylvia Pankhurst. There was also an interesting session in conversation with former City MP, Christine Russell and current Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, Samantha Dixon. During the day the Chester Centenary Banner was unveiled as well as an amazing plaque which recognises the first female Mayor of Chester (Phyllis Brown) and the first female Sheriff of the City (Kate Clarke). This will eventually be situated on the front of the Town Hall.
This year marks the 70th Anniversary since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed.We have just come to the end of the 16 Days of Activism Campaign against Gender based Violence against Women, which is from 25th November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) until 10th December (Human Rights Day). Club members marked this day at our club meeting by wearing orange – the traditional colour worn during this period.
Several Chester members attended the recent Federation Conference held in Liverpool from 25th – 27th October. After the usual Flag Ceremony on Thursday evening, followed by entertainment from the Brothers of Swing (which had many of us up on our feet!), the conference got underway on Friday morning. We enjoyed hearing from some interesting speakers (including Terry Waite CBE, Helen Pankhurst and Sir Ranulph Fiennes, all of whom had thought provoking, and sometimes amusing, stories to sell. We also received updates on some of the projects that clubs have worked on throughout the year. Soroptimist International President Mariet gave us an update on her President’s Appeal, ‘Women, Water & Leadership’ and we also heard from the International President of Advocacy, Bev Bucur, who advised us of the work being done at the UN Centres and the women who represent us at these Centres. We were