Soroptimist International calls its project work Programme Action, which is at the heart of everything we do. Our Projects are varied some are short term and some are long term as well as being global, national and local. Some are reflecting Soroptmist International’s gaol of improving the lives and status of girls through education, empowerment and enabling them, others are working with community groups and our practical knitting and sewing Projects.
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths)
As part of the STEM initiative 55 copies of the book Women in Science have been circulated to schools in Torfaen, Newport and Blaenau Gwent.
We support a girl in Indonesia. One of the aims of Plan is to empower girls to reach their potential and be involved in shaping the world they live in. The challenges in the area include tackling domestic violence , child marriages, poor child care and poor personal hygiene.
65 backpacks have been sent to Haiti, Kenya and Malawi. The backpacks will help a child to go to school as most of the children who benefit from the Project have suffered war, poverty, famine or natural disaster. Very often families cannot afford to buy basic things such as pencils or even clothes for the children to wear to school. A simple backpack with educational materials can be a lifeline to these children.
Elimination of Violence against Women
The UN has designated November 25th as a day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls. SI has supported this by adopting 10 days of activism and awareness raising. Our Club decided to organise an event (Orange the World) at Pontypool Leisure Centre on 25th November. It was a successful awareness raising day enabling us to speak to numerous people as well as sell jewellery and teddies. We raised £50 for Women’s Aid and £45 for Alzheimer’s.
Trafficking and anti-slavery
We recognise that most people in our society are unaware of the amount of trafficking in Wales. One of our members is in regular contact with the Medaille Trust
Cwmbran Club takes toiletries to refuge and anything else they need e.g. bedding, this year as well as donating comfort teddies for children staying at the Refuge.
A coffee morning held at a member’s house raised £160.60 for Empowering Girls in Nepal.
International President’s December Appeal £58.70 was sent to the President’s Appeal – Women, Water and Leadership in Kenya and Bulgaria in lieu of Christmas cards
Sewing and knitting projects
These are in great demand as they can only be used once due to the risk infections. We have made different designs over the years and taken to different places. This year club has donated a number of drain-bags to Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital to be used to hold pain-drivers for children.
Coronavirus – Fabric drawstring bags
These have been made for NHS workers to put their scrubs in to bring home to wash and enable them to be kept separate from the family wash.
Comfort Cushions These comfort cushions are made for ladies who’ve had mastectomies. We have given some to friends and families and have raised £35 for Breast Cancer Care.
These teddies are given to children in need of comfort in times of need.Our club also donated teddies to Serennu Children’s Centre ( Sparkle), Nevil Hall Children’s Centre, Noah’s Ark Children’s Centre, Bobath Children’s Therapy Centre, Gwent Missing Children Unit, South East Wales Adoption Agency, St.David’s Hospital for Children’s Grief Week, SARC,South Wales Ambulance , Age Concern Torfaen and Family Contact Team. This year we donated Comfort teddies to 13 Primary schools in our area including Crown Bridge Special School. 130 teddies in total were delivered by members to the schools. We have donated 531 Comfort Teddies this year in total.
We have donated 62 Twiddle Muffs to South Wales Ambulance and a number of Twiddle muffs to Age Connect Torfaen.
see here for patterns Sewing/Knitting Instructions/patterns
Work with Partners and Government
Gateway Credit Union
Credit Union is a financial co-operative run by and for members who are local people. It is an ethical movement where members save and create a pool of money which can be lent to those who want to borrow at a low rate of interest. It helps people with financial problems to manage their money – a high percentage of borrowers are women with children. Pontypool in particular is a deprived area and this lending scheme is well used to support families. Collecting money from members has been an activity that the Club has supported for over 20 years. Some members are now giving by direct debit.
Members continue to donate foods to the local food banks
S.I. Cwmbran continues to raise money for Alzheimer’s U.K. with the sale of pre-loved jewellery. We also support Widdershins which is run by Age Connect, Torfaen. Last year we donated £600, this went towards an automatic sliding door. Some members spent a very pleasant morning in the centre meeting carers and users. We were able to see the newly installed door and understand how beneficial it is to those who use the centre. We have also donated blankets for people needing wheelchairs and teddy bears.
Water Aid has teams in 37 countries across the world, working with partners to transform millions of lives every year by improving access to safe water, toilets and hygiene. As a club we have supported Water Aid for a number of years. During the last financial year to date we have banked £68.74 for Water Aid. Unfortunately there is no match funding scheme with the Government this year. Our aim was to bank our pennies, as £15 pays for a well ‘Buckets of pennies for buckets of water’.
Glasses Any spectacles brought in used to be donated through Rotary. When that was stopped they were donated through Inner Wheel to go to Vision Africa. They are now donated through the ASDA opticians.
Tools for Self- Reliance
Tool for Self- Reliance is a voluntary organisation run by volunteers who clean and repair old and unwanted tools and sewing machines. These are then sent to Tanzania where individuals and communities who wish to set up their own businesses are supplied with the necessary tools and machines. We in Cwmbran have been recycling tools and sewing machines for over 18 years. This year we have given 5 sewing machines, sewing aids and a large quantity of tools for recycling to the Crickhowell work shop.
Bras – Harts of Monmouth. Every tonne of bras raises £700. These funds are used for research to improve detection and increase survival of breast cancer diagnosis. Cwmbran SI continue to support bra collections, which have been taken to Harts of Monmouth the retailer that runs a bra bank. Every tonne of bras raises £700. These funds are used for research to improve detection and increase survival of breast cancer diagnosis.
We have donated both good quality and damaged bras. The good quality bras going to countries which help aid women to run small businesses. The damaged bras are dismantled and components reused in workshops. These schemes in Toga, Ghana and Kenya help to provide employment and keep families out of poverty. Bras that have seen better days, avoid landfill by being recycled and the monies used towards research into breast cancer.
Both friends and members of the club have donated 440 bras this year.
Open Air Painting; Last June, in association with the Museum, another open air painting competition was held in Pontypool Park. In spite of the atrocious weather, we had 34 competitors. We just managed to cover our costs! It will be held again in 2020.
Mural Restoration Pontypool: We were eventually awarded an H.L.F grant of 18K. This together with a John Andrews Trust award of 2K and other small monies meant that we could cover the cost of renovating the existing Pontypool murals, but not create a new one. The artist is well underway in cleaning the murals and repairing the Japan ware mural. They already look a lot better. The restoration is scheduled to be completed by June 2020. We shall start planning to raise the money to create more murals to create a trail.
Pre-loved jewellery has been sold at numerous venues throughout the year. Added to this are the monies raised for more valuable items sold at the International Antiques Fair at Builth Wells and various gold outlets. This would not be possible without the very generous donations of jewellery given by friends and families throughout the year. This activity was started in order to provide funds to be donated to Charities that support both old and young Alzheimer’s sufferers and enable much needed research to be carried out into this dreadful disease. During 2019/2020 we have raised £652.50 from the sale of pre-loved jewellery.
Christmas Tree Festival
We were pleased to take part in LLanyrafon Methodist Church’s annual Christmas Tree Festival and we used knitted comfort teddies to decorate the tree to raise awareness of one of the activities that we are involved in.
40 items in 40 days challenge
This was a challenge for Lent and we donated 126 items. Some items of clothing were given to refugees, some to Cwmbran Pastors, some books were taken to the second hand bookshop at Tredegar House and the remaining items were taken to St. David’s hospice shop.
What we did in lockdown
During lockdown members kept touch via Zoom speaker meetings, coffee mornings, activities and Sally and Paddy put together a monthly newsletter for us .
We had a socially distanced meal at Greenmeadow . Our first get together since March
Sheelagh and Pat took our jewellry stall to the clothing
event that Jane Clay held to support her London Marathon run into raise funds for Alzeimers society. They took an amazing £60 to add to Jane’s total that she made that day.
Jessica Morden MP.
Paddy and Sally went to Caerphilly County Borough Council to 4 schools to continue our distribution of books under our STEM project which the pandemic has stopped,
Alison Pope from the Little Welsh Chocolate Company
With a glass in hand and plenty of daffodils on show we celebrated St David’s Day with readings, poetry, singing and a quiz.
At our coffee morning we celebrated the annual March 8th, International Women’s Day (IWD) which has occurred for well over a century to
celebrate women’s achievements
raise awareness about women’s equality
lobby for accelerated gender parity
fundraise for female-focused charities
A welcome back to John Sheen and his talk ‘4 Boys and a Pasty’ about his childhood in Port Talbot in the 1950’s.
January Robin and Chloe from Natural Weigh at Crickhowell
December 16 Days of Activism
Every year Soroptimists use the 16 days of activism against gender based violence which is an international campaign to challenge violence against women and runs every year from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women , to 10 December, Human Rights Day.
Normally we would have had marches, events and demonstrations, wearing orange as well as social media items but this year we have just had daily powerful social media images with an appropriate message and at our December Zoom coffee morning we all wore orange.
In December Sallie and Marian also delivered 150 comfort teddies to the Grange University Hospital. Giving them to the chaplain.
November Emma Saysell from St David’s
October Julian Hayman on the new critical care hospital, Grange University Hospital at Llanfrechfa.
September Anne O’Donahue on Track and Trace
The ‘Lock-down knitting’ completed by members, family and friends.
49 Bonding Square Sets
16 Baby Gift Sets
535 Innocent Smoothie hats 20 Fish and Chip Jumper sets 7 Baby Cardigans
17 Baby hats
8 Baby blankets
2 Knee blankets
200 + Comfort teddie
These items were delivered to – Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital, Grange Hospital, Lives for African Women, Age Concern at Widdishins, Age Concern Abergavenny.