It was a blistering hot day with impactful speakers – ending with the subject of landmines – hence the headline!
The meeting opened with a reading by Sue Payne of SI Milton Keynes to recognise the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought #2017WDCD June 17th and a reading to recognise International Day of the African Child #IDAC2017 June 16th by Angela Spellman, SI Newbury and District. The Soroptimist Vision and Mission was presented by Jo Lambert SI Bedford and Jen Simpson, SI London Chilterns Regional President gave us all a very warm welcome (quite literally!!).
Our first speaker was Margaret Clark, Assistant Programme Director for Advocacy SI Great Britain and Ireland (SIGBI) who gave a presentation on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and their relationship to SIGBI – links to the presentation will be added here. Margaret started by asking us what we thought “advocacy” meant – bearing in mind this is the programme of action she has responsibility for. In Soroptimist terms we agreed that it is any activity that publicly promotes Soroptimist goals. Margaret spoke about the Parliamentary Outreach training sessions she has undertaken with British government support to help people like us to influence and improve legislation in the UK in support of Soroptimist goals – the training has been aimed at any interested women’s groups and has so far reached 4000 women. Margaret encouraged us to see the Advocacy page on the SIGBI website to find out more about how to lobby and make change happen www.sigbi.org/members/programme/programme-areas/advocacy/ Margaret is pictured here on the right with Regional President Jen holding up information about Refugee Week www.refugeeweek.org.uk/ 19-25 June.
Showcase SI Central and South-West London – www.sigbi.org/london-central-and-southwest we heard from Barbara Diamant about the Club’s work in the Ukraine with a school for the partially sighted in partnership with their Friendship Link Club SI Kiev through their Member Oksana Kondratyeva. Barbara was selling “Yashko” books on the day – please see the photos.
Showcase SI Bedford – Rita Beaumont told us about the nursery ‘Wee Care’ in Jamaica that has been supported for many years by SI Bedford. This is another example of a partnership that was created by a Club Member – in this case Veetha who regularly goes back to visit her homeland of Jamaica and is in close contact with the charity.
Cheque presentation to Rape Crisis Wycome, Chiltern and South Buckswww.wycomberapecrisis.org.uk SI High Wycombe and District www.sigbi.org/high-wycombe-and-district has fundraised for this charity this last year. Club President Jan Still (pictured 3rd from left) said “it was very satisfying to hear from Pavan that our cheque for Rape Crisis actually bailed them out of a very tricky cash flow situation.”
Keynote speaker for the afternoon was Phil Goodall, Senior Probation Officer, Thames Valley Community Rehabilitation Company www.thamesvalleycrc.co.uk : ‘Shaping Services and Interventions for female service users’. Phil’s presentation is here: SILC Probation presentation 17.6.17 He presented their work with female offenders to help them change and become part of the community. He spoke about the women’s health and self-image courses that SI High Wycombe helped him set up. Eight women went through the first course, two dropped out – one being imprisoned again and the other in mental health care. The remaining six have all stayed out of further trouble, have lost weight where that was a problem, have improved their health and been motivated either into work or volunteering. They all found great support from one another during and after the course. Phil counted it as a surprising and amazing success and it is hoped this model can be taken up in other areas (this is just one of twenty one across the country). One thing he said the women needed was sanitary and toiletry packs.
Our final speaker was inspirational Soroptimist Kate Moore MBE, former Chair, Action on Armed Violence www.aoav.org.uk : ‘The Road to Oslo – and beyond’. Kate was appointed to the Landmine Action Board in December 2005 and was elected as Co-Chair of Action on Armed Violence in December 2011. Landmine Action Group is now the Mines Advisory Group www.maginternational.org Kate was awarded the MBE for Services to the Disabled in the 1993 New Years Honours List. Kate set up Soroptimist partnerships with Handicap International, Adopt a Minefield and the Soroptimist UKPAC were early members of the Cluster Munition Coalition. Kate reminded us of the “Limbs for Life” project and “Project Independence – Women Survivors of War”. As a member of the Cluster Munition Coalition, Kate worked with the Coalition throughout the negotiations of the Oslo Process which resulted in the 2008 UN Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM). She is incredibly proud of the work of Soroptimists in this area and said “Soroptimists have helped to change the world – and we’re all part of it”. Kate left us all with campaigning cards from the Mines Advisory Group #LandmineFree2025 Campaign – see pic here and above.