Club President Sandra Frier address:
It is an honour to be the President for Soroptimist International of Harrogate & District for 2020-21. Although our AGM was not the usual formal Presidential handover of chain of office and celebration, eighteen of our members joined our virtual AGM on Zoom. We raised a toast to all our members as well as outgoing and incoming officers. We look forward to a time for celebration on a much larger scale when all our members can meet together again and we can return to a new ‘normal’.
As a Club we are finding ways to communicate and look after each other. In the first week of lockdown our priority was to put a buddy system in place, whereby a team of Soroptimists regularly contact all of us to find out how we are and making sure none of our members feel isolated.
Our virtual coffee mornings on Zoom each week are a chance for us to catch up and chat about what we have each been doing. We have enjoyed some fascinating stories, as our members have found many different ways to keep busy.
Harrogate & District Soroptimists have a reputation for combining fun and friendship with hard work. Our aim is to make a difference to the lives of women and girls locally and worldwide.
Response to Covid-19
Some of our members have continued to work, whilst others, have worked together virtually to assist the community during these very difficult times, through a range of activities.
This has included making scrubs in conjunction with Harrogate Scrubbers, making laundry bags from pillow cases for Ripon hospital staff and care home staff to put their uniforms in and wash, provided 50 pamper bags for NHS front line staff, knitting small hearts for patients who have contracted the virus and their families who may not have been able to see a loved one, supporting local food banks, and providing much needed new bedding packs to the Refuge in Harrogate.
Just ‘B’ and St Michael’s hospice is the President’s charity this year. Its a charity that as well as bereavement support, offers an invaluable service to schools and the community for those needing emotional support at a particular time in their lives. They are also now one of the support lines of the ‘Our People NHS Staff Support’ initiative. Raising funds for Just ‘B’ will include a Fashion Show planned to be held in November.
Harrogate & District Soroptimists have been involved in raising funds to support a school in Malawi to build a library and enable them to have computers. The most recent international project is one which will tackle the problem of the abuse of young women and girls in Nepal by providing security, rehabilitation, education and training for vulnerable young women.
We are currently holding monthly Club Business Meetings on Zoom for the time being and plan to involve speakers, as we would do normally. Other ways we are keeping united is via a Club Bulletin to all our members fortnightly and a Fun Newsletter with photos, stories and poems from our members
When our Club meetings can resume again, our new venue will be the Crown Hotel, Harrogate, where we will meet every 1st and 3rd Wednesday at 7.30pm. Speakers in our programme focus on empowering, enabling and educating women and children and supporting vulnerable people.
President Sandra said ‘Its going to be a different year for us all but one which I know will make our Club stronger. We will strive to support our local communities during these very challenging times, as well as our projects further afield’.