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London Chilterns Challengers AGM

SI London Chilterns Region had an excellent AGM on Saturday 8th October 2022: 10am to 1pm via Zoom. We were joined by, not one, not two, but three inspiring speakers!

SILC AGM Oct 22 Roni ChernevaOur first speaker was Roni Cherneva, the Modern Day Slavery and Human Trafficking Co-Ordinator working for  Bedfordshire Police. Pauline Panter from SI Bedford was proud and delighted to be able to introduce Roni because Pauline had been on the interview panel when she was recruited into this newly created role in 2016.

Please look at Roni’s presentation Roni Cherneva Slavery Trafficking Presentation for Soroptimist Event which is full of useful information – in her talk to us she focused on sexual exploitation. Since the role was created the police have changed and recognise SILC AGM Oct 22 Roni Cherneva Modern Day Slavery presentationthese crimes, but more change is needed so they open their eyes fully to what is going on.  Roni said that in all of these cases victims were “missing love in their lives” and that was what made them vulnerable to be controlled by the perpetrators of these heinous crimes. Roni showed us horrifying images of women with tattoos showing who “owned” them. The Modern Slavery Bill has some new legislation to prosecute companies with modern slaves being used in their supply chains. SILC AGM Oct 22 Roni Cherneva Modern Day Slavery presentationLevels of human trafficking are increasing – in Bedfordshire many different nationalities are trafficked, but a large number are men from Albania which they believe is peculiar to the County. 77% of people trafficked are under age 30. Roni pointed out how European sexual exploitation is different to Chinese. The National Referral Mechanism has its flaws, but it does give hope to victims.

Roni was able to tell us about a new role that has been created “Victims Liaison Officer – by the amount of work Roni is doing SILC AGM Oct 22 Roni Cherneva Modern Day Slavery presentationclearly more resources are needed to tackle these crimes against humanity.

Roni explained the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) – a framework for identifying victims of Human Trafficking or Modern Slavery and ensuring they receive the appropriate support

What can we do?

  • Identify potential victims
  • Access agencies that can refer victims into the NRM or provide other support
  • Inform the appropriate authorities

Roni gave us this helpful contact information for victims:

Police: in case of emergency call the police on 999; in non-emergency situation call the police on 101 or use our online reporting service to report an MDS crime or concern:

Crimestoppers: Report non-emergency crime/concern anonymously at or on 0800 555 111 (24/7)

National Modern Slavery Helpline: Report online (anonymously or not) at Call the 24/7 Referral Helpline on 08000 121 700

Salvation Army:  They offer a 24-hour confidential Referral Helpline on 0300 3038151

We had some great questions. Dame Vera Baird (UK’s Victim Commissioner until Sep 22) attended and praised Roni saying “Thanks for your presentation, there are horror stories and you are amazing to cope with the risk of vicarious trauma for yourself.” Roni really is an inspiring woman and we were very grateful to her for sharing her knowledge and expertise with us.

After Roni had spoken we had the regular part of the AGM with our vision and mission, and roll call before remembering Members who had passed away since the last AGM. They were Hilary Page, previously a Member of SI Lewisham and past International President, Brenda Hillier, previously a Member of SI St Albans & District, Anne Lines SI High Wycombe and District and Jill Hackett SI Thames Valley. We held a minute’s silence to respect and remember their lives.

Reports had been circulated ahead of the meeting so business was conducted efficiently. The Officers of the Region for 2022/23 are here 2022/23 will be another year of sharing the President’s role across the Executive Team. This year Linda Shall has stood down as the minute taker and Pauline Panter has agreed to take on this role. The Executive need more help, so if anyone would like to talk about it or attend an online Exec meeting to find out more please get in touch

The Executive Team call themselves “The Chilterns Challengers” and the theme for the year ahead is “The Future is Ours to Challenge”.

Jane Slatter was delighted to announce 25 year Service Awards for Rita Beaumont SI Bedford, Sylvia Galbraith SI Newbury and District and Irene Cockroft SI Greater London. Jane asked that Clubs send photos when they are presented to Members at their Clubs.

Soroptimists Rita Beaumont and Kay Richmond
Soroptimists Rita Beaumont and Kay Richmond

Our second speaker was Dr Kay Richmond: Federation Programme Director (pictured here with Rita Beaumont when she visited the Region BC i.e. “before COVID”). Kay presented the SIGBI Strategic Plan 2021-25, which created some lively debate among attendees. Kay’s presentation with notes are available to download here SILCR AGM 8 Oct SIGBI Plan Kay Richmond

SILC AGM Oct 22 Dr Kay Richmond presentationPlease read the notes with the slides – there is a lot of information. Kay’s focus was on Programme Action it is her area of expertise and she is Director of Programme. We all know that Programme Action is at the heart of Soroptimists and is the main reason people join the organisation – and then they stay for the fun and friendship. Like many voluntary organisations Soroptimist International is suffering from a reduction in Members and we all need to work together to create an organisation fit for the future.

SILC AGM Oct 22 Linda Shall COP presentationOur third speaker was no stranger to these meetings – Linda Shall from SI St Albans and District gave us a thought-provoking presentation on the Progress Towards the Climate Change COP26 Agreements ahead of the forthcoming COP27 in Egypt. Linda pointed out that even if people want climate change not to be political it always will be because all countries see the problems and solutions from a different perspective. A good point was raised about the power of consumer behaviour to influence change. SILC AGM Oct 22 Linda Shall COP presentationLinda’s presentation is here: SILCR AGM 8 Oct SLIDES-SILCCOP26Progress and her notes are here: SILCR AGM 8 Oct NOTES-SILCCOP26progress

To wrap up the meeting Helen Byrne invited those going to the Belfast Conference to get in touch if they want to meet for dinner on the evening of Friday 28th Oct.

Helen also invited everyone to nominate Members of their Club to join a Club Call on Zoom about Regional Development on 5 Nov 10am to 1pm.

Rita Beaumont closed the meeting confirming that the date of Annual General Meeting 2023 will be Sat 7 Oct and that the next Region Meeting/Conference will be our celebration of Human Rights Day on Sat 10 Dec 10am to 1pm on Zoom.

SILC AGM Oct 22 Group ZoomThere were lots of positive comments and thank you messages in the Zoom “chat” with people saying how much they had enjoyed the meeting and how well organised it was.