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News from MAR Regional Meeting 10th December 2016

Helen Murdoch, Organiser for Cardiff 2017 Conference.
SIGBI Federation President, Ann Hodgson’s first Soroptimist club was SI Kenilworth so her heart is in the Midlands and she would like Midland Arden to participate. Malta was a superb conference and they would like to emulate the good things learned from there. Helen told us that they had been charged “to shake things up” so there may be a different feel to conference. There will still be the opportunities to meet new people and exchange good ideas. The theme will be “Step up, lead the way.” It is all about getting everybody involved. Conference website is already up and running and you can book hotels through it. The Conference will take place in the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff. It is a phenomenal venue with lots of eating places around the Bay. Helen is looking to Midland Arden for Stewards. The new name for stewards will be “smile makers”. This job will be to support the Chief Steward to provide a safe, caring environment to ensure enjoyment and well-being of all candidates. There are a variety of jobs available. If you would like to be involved, email conference secretary stating any preferences.

Rose Hutchinson – Forgotten 10 Campaign for Handicap International:
Today is December 10th – Human Rights Day. We were asked to do 10 things in the run up to December 10 so we will have to do all 10 all today:
1) Learn 10 facts: which included: In 2015, 43,000 people were killed or injured by explosive weapons. 92% of those people were civilians. There has been a 45% increase in the number of people injured since 2011. In Syria 53% people injured by explosive weapons. 15% needed amputations. In 2014 children accounted for 39% of civilian casualties. Handicap International has been in existence for 34 years, worked in 59 countries and has carried out 341 projects. They were joint winners of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997. They clear landmines and unexploded bombs. They also provide artificial limbs and rehabilitation to amputees
2) Go to SI Solihull’s stand and learn 10 more facts
3) Build a pyramid of shoes. This is a powerful symbol of loss of life and limb. The shoes will be taken to Clarks who will distribute the footwear to Nepal and Africa as well as other countries
4) Sign the petition: These will be sent to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson asking to stop the use of explosive weapons in civilian areas.
5) Information in the post box: for 10 clubs
6) Goals: One of our goals is to encourage conflict resolution and to promote peace. This is also one of the UNs sustainable goals. Goal number 10 is to reduce inequality.
7) Collect 10ps or multiples of 10 in today’s collection. (this came to £67.85)
8) Put it on Twitter – what you are doing today
9) Put in on Facebook
10) Complete the Programme Focus Report Form – SI Solihull to do this as Region can’t.

Soroptimist Growth Plan Pilot: Jane Flint Bridgwater, Sue Beech and Gail Teague: reporting back on Midland Arden clubs’ involvement. Results of the pilot were:

1. Sharing of experience and learning across pilot clubs
2. Partnership working (Coventry at Leamington Peace Festival, Stourbridge at Membership Month Partnership Event with MS Hospice) since 2015 EMCC
3. Materials Development (Garstang poster adapted for free by Stourbridge)
4. Single Page Plan (SPP) developed in Club (Stourbridge shared; Bromsgrove extended plan), Orbit disliked, regular monitoring a challenge, 2017 MARCOMMS in SPP
5. Welcome MAR good examples e.g. Stratford advert
6. ‘Slow Burn’ applicable: older membership, changing practice, 3 year plan model
7. Use ‘Soroptimists’/ Federation/ HQ, NOT SIGBI!
8. Free PR through Voluntary Organisation Awards (Coventry)
9. Testimonials from Beneficiary Organisations (Coventry)
10. IT – welcoming, flexible website design
11. Planning for the future – sustainable development planning incorporating recruitment longer term (roll out by some means)
SIGBI wanted to have 2 full days on the pilot scheme. This was not well received. Clubs can invite reps to come and talk about the pilot scheme. Jane Flint Bridgewater will circulate information about the scheme.

Pat Martin – Meru Garden Project:
Pat explained the project for the benefit of new members present. This project was first introduced by SI Canterbury and was taken up by Federation as our 4-year project, ending in March 2019. The initial target was to raise £10,000 to train the first group of 30 women in sustainable food gardening methods. This will allow the women to feed their families and to sell surplus. The intention is to take on another group of 30 women when the first have been trained. Our partners are Child.Org and CIFORD (Community Initiatives for Rural Development). They have recently started a breakfast club which encourages girls to attend school as they are not hungry.
The target of £10,000 has been achieved. Pat thinks a lot more has been raised so she asks us to tell her what we have done for this project, how much we have raised – and sent in (do not wait, send it in immediately) and she will monitor this through SIGBI.

We are urged to continue to bring knitted blankets for the Hamlin Fistula Charity as these are still greatly needed. Mobile phones and jewellery is being collected by SI Kenilworth. We are also still collecting bras – SI Kidderminster doing this.

Main Speaker – Jayne Senior – please see section on recent regional meeting speakers