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Soroptimist East London wins award!

Yay, Soroptimist East London wins award!

We’re excited to announce that Soroptimist East London has been recognised for its work in mentoring vulnerable women into employment or education and a more secure future with Hackney’s Luminary Bakery.  The group has been awarded the prestigious Best Practice Award in the category “Prosperity” by SIGBI (Soroptimist International of Great Britain and Ireland) in October 2020.

Soropptimist East London at the Luminary Bakery

What did Soroptimist East London do – and why?

Soroptimist East London members mentored around seven women participating in a training program for vulnerable women run by the Luminary Bakery. The program offers a safe space to train and grow towards a more positive future to women experiencing “multiple disadvantages” (including gender-based violence such as domestic abuse, prostitution, sexual exploitation, trafficking and honour based violence).

Alison Charles, a member of Soroptimist East London who lead the Luminary mentoring project explains: “The Luminary Bakery is a social enterprise in East London that empowers vulnerable women through baking. We chose to mentor women trainees at the Luminary because the organisation was one that all the members felt passionate about. The Luminary makes a real difference to the lives of the women they support. We felt we could really make a difference rising hope in those we mentored, helping them rebuild a new future for themselves. Supporting them on the next stage of their journey.  Working with Luminary feels like working with a family, they care deeply for all the women they support. It is an honour to work alongside them.” You can see Alison and Alice in conversation about the impact of mentoring women with multiple disadvantages HERE!

What was it like to be a Luminary mentor?

Being a mentor for a Luminary student was a great experience for Soroptimist East London members. Melanie Leivers from Tower Hamlets explains: “Spending time with a woman mentee who has such a very different experience of life really does broaden your knowledge about the world.  Although at the beginning she’s a mentee, by the end of the program she is a new friend!” And for Sally Knight it was “a delight to help such a motivated young woman achieve her dreams.” Sally (who is from Redbridge) explains “it was so much fun and such a pleasure that we kept on meeting up!” even after the end of the formal mentoring program.

Why did we win the Award?

Carol Infanti, SIGBI’s Assistant Programme Director for Prosperity said: “We were impressed by the work and dedication of Soroptimist East London members in mentoring women students of the Luminary Bakery and it is wonderful to hear that one of the mentees decided to become a Soroptimist herself.”

Alice Williams of the Luminary Bakery said “Luminary are really grateful to the Soroptimist volunteers who have been mentoring our graduates from our training programs, really investing in their personal and professional development and making them feel a part of community.”

What’s next?

The final word goes to Halimot Ogunnaike of Haliberry Cakes and Catering based in Newham. Halimot was herself a student of the Luminary Bakery and now runs her own business.  She says “my Soroptimist mentor did a wonderful job. She’s like my mum and a mentor at the same time.  She’s been one of the pillars of my business helping me along the way.” Halimot has not just set up her own baking business, she has also become a member of Soroptimist East London herself. She says:  “I want to give back to the community, to share my skills and offer what I can. Just a week ago I gave a charity baking class to raise money for The Ideas Partnership our partner in Kosovo.”  If you’d like to learn about Halimot’s cakes or attend her online baking classes check out her blog “Introducing Haliberry Cakes“!

What’s next? Soroptimist East London members are now building on their positive experiences to mentor with HERA which supports women achieve financial freedom to prevent trafficking and re-trafficking. To learn more, check out our blog “Empowering Women with a Bag”.

Interested to learn more about Soroptimist East London?

Soroptimist East London empowers women for positive change and sustainable development here in East London and around the world. Members come from a wide range of professional backgrounds and live, work or have personal connections in East London. We meet every month at various locations in East London or on-line.

New members are always welcome. Whether you are a woman looking for local friends, a chance to volunteer, an opportunity to develop skills or knowledge, to stand in solidarity with other women or make contact with women around the world, there is lots to do so we’d love to hear from you!

To learn more contact us.

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