Friday and Saturday nights see a transformation in many towns and cities across the UK as the pubs and clubs fill with people out for a good night out – but for some it will end in drunkenness, fights and possible sexual assault. Paul Blakey MBE witnessed what was happening in his hometown of Halifax in 2005 and decided to do something about it. Paul was the guest speaker at our September meeting. He is the pioneer founder of Street Angels and now the National Coordinator. Paul started the project in Halifax and following its amazing success has supported other towns to follow suit. Paul works closely with the Police, Churches and other voluntary organisations identifying and supporting vulnerable people of all ages who run into difficulties on out local streets. His success has also led to requests from music festivals such as the Leeds Festival to
What makes someone abandon their home and travel across land and sea in often dangerous and unknown conditions for a hopefully better future? Sleman Shwaish, Refugee Coordinator for the British Red Cross gave us an insight by sharing his story as our guest speaker at the May meeting. Sleman, Kurdish in origin is from Quamish in NE Syria. He studied in Aleppo as an agricultural engineer but fled to the UK in 2012 after being forcibly conscripted to join the Army as the war took hold and started to ravage what had been a beautiful country. Sleman could not countenance fighting or killing his own people and had to make the difficult decision to leave his parents, his father a Pharmacist and his mother an English teacher. Sleman travelled illegally through Turkey and Iraq eventually ending up in London, where he claimed and was granted asylum.
Soroptimist International of Harrogate & District President Nicola Harding and member Judith Webb, welcomed David Davies to speak on ‘The Big Freeze of 1947’. David took us back to the aftermath of World War II in the United Kingdom with a really vivid insight into the hardships which faced the country as it continued to suffer chronic shortages of food and materials. There were serious crises affecting food, housing, fuel and sterling. Starting in 1946, the severe coal shortage had really set the scene – the main problem being our reliance on coal for 93% for all power needs. There were then protracted national strikes by the miners, pending nationalisation. Also in early January 1947 there was a national transport strike to add to the nation’s problems. Then on 23rd January 1947, the winter’s ‘Big Freeze’ really started, with much snow having already fallen. For