Our members are involved in many voluntary and community activities on an individual level. But much of the ethos of Soroptimism is improving the lot of women and girls, not just in our community, but all round the world. As a Club we may be a small drop in the ocean of need, but as part of a large international organisation, we feel we are making a difference.
Here are some of the things we do:
One of our main charities this year is Rebourne Corner, run by the local arm of the Salvation Army. It helps people who are in need of housing, employment or just someone to talk to.
And during 2018-19 we are continuing to support the Meru Women’s Garden Project, which is being supported by many other British Soroptimist Clubs as well.
We have been working with our Soroptimist link club in Japan, Soroptimist International of Nara, on various projects including improving conditions for children affected by the Japanese tsunami and its associated nuclear fall-out, raising money for work with street children in Kenya, Love-in-a-Box (see below) and the Meru Women’s Garden Project.
In recent years we have raised money for the Eastbourne Samaritans, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, Changing Faces, the JPK Project, the Citizens’ Advice Bureau, breast cancer charities, Mary’s Meals, the Eastbourne Foodbank and Médecins sans Frontières‘ work with Ebola victims.
But Soroptimism isn’t just about raising funds. Here are some of our other activities:
We support the local women’s refuge with parcels of toiletries, Easter eggs, etc., and give money so that the children based there can buy small presents for their mothers on Mother’s Day.
Every autumn we fill shoe-boxes with small gifts to be given to children in deprived areas of South-East Europe; this is part of the Love in a Box project, run by the Eastbourne-based charity Mustard Seed Relief Mission.
Over the last few years we’ve joined the Lewes Soroptimists at the local Foster Carers’ Christmas Party, helping to provide and wrap presents from which children could choose something to give their foster parents.
A recent initiative has had Club members sewing heart-shaped cushions for the local hospital to give to women recovering from mastectomies – they’re more comfortable to use than conventional cushions. And we continue to knit baby blankets for the local Foodbank to distribute.
In March this year the Eastbourne Soroptimists organised a one-day conference to celebrate International Women’s Day; this was held in Eastbourne’s imposing Town Hall, with speakers from different spheres of influence in the county. It attracted a good number of outside participants, thanks to a lot of hard work by the local Soroptimists and the invaluable help of the then-Mayor and her staff.
In the past we have campaigned at Eastbourne Borough Council level about the dangers to wildlife and property caused by helium-filled and ‘Chinese’ balloons, lobbied for a more regular breast-screening schedule in the Hailsham area, and helped with beach cleans and surveys for the Marine Conservation Society.
At present Club members are involved with the WASPI campaign which is fighting for all women born in the 1950s who are adversely affected by the changes to the State Pension law.
And we have been raising awareness and gathering signatures for the Purple Teardrop Campaign to oppose the trafficking of women and children.