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Soroptimist International - Milton Keynes

Soroptimist International of Milton Keynes is part of a worldwide organisation of women, which is linked to the United Nations.

Welcome to SI Milton Keynes

Our Milton Keynes group is here to take a proactive, practical stance on issues that highlight the particular disadvantages faced by women and girls, locally and internationally. We are the voices of local women having a global impact at the United Nations as one of the few voluntary organisations heard around the world.

2020 End Violence Against Women campaign

16 days of activism against Gender based violence

25 November 2020 saw the start of 16 days of activism to mark the Ending of Violence Against Women Day which is an annual event always on 25th November.

In 1994, the United Nations defined violence against women, as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life”.

Let’s all try to be ware of this and to raise awareness where ever we can and to listen and provide what support we can.

During this week our chair, Amanda Carter Phillpot  attended a performance of Never Going to Beat You – Domestic Abuse in the Traveller Community on 23rd November hosted by Soroptimists International ST Albans. An absolutely gripping, disturbing performance by professional actors and the traveller community. Our chair is trying to negotiate to get it shown in Milton Keynes at some point during 2021.  Watch this space.

Soroptimist International of Chelmsford & District are providing Anglia Ruskin University with e-posters about Ending Violence Against Women. The University have kindly agreed to circulate them via their various e-communications networks for staff and students.

White Ribbon Day – 25 November

White Ribbon day 2020

25th November also marks “White Ribbon Day”.  For those of you who are not aware of this movement, here is a brief potted history below.

The white ribbon has come to represent the movement to end gender-based violence. It is the designated symbol of the internationally observed 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, which begins on November 25 and lasts until and including December 10, Human Rights Day. The date was chosen to draw an obvious connection between human rights and women’s rights.

This year is more important than ever, with a significant increase in violence, harassment and abuse towards women during the coronavirus pandemic.  We urgently need to work together to prevent violence and make sure our communities and homes are safe for everyone.


The White Ribbon Campaign (WRC) is now a global movement of men and boys working to end male violence against women and girls across 60 countries. and is the world’s largest organisation of its kind. Originally formed by a group of pro-feminist men in London, Ontario in November 1991 as a response to the École Polytechnique massacre of 14 female students by Marc Lépine in 1989.

It transpired that Lépine had been denied admission to the École Polytechnique and was upset women were assuming careers and areas of study traditionally dominated by men. His suicide note read: “Would you note that if I commit suicide today it is not for economic reasons… but for political reasons. Because I have decided to send the feminists, who have always ruined my life, to their Maker… I have decided to put an end to those viragos.” So the epitome of a misogynist!

One of the good things to come out of this tragedy was the White Ribbon campaign.

The campaign was conceived as an education and awareness-raising effort devoted to engaging men and boys to think about their attitudes and behaviour and challenge all forms of men’s violence against women. The campaign asked men to wear white ribbons as a pledge to “never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women and girls.” Hereafter known as the White Ribbon Promise.

In the words of founder Michael Kaufman: “Men have been defined as part of the problem. But the White Ribbon Campaign believes that men can also be part of the solution. Confronting men’s violence requires nothing less than a commitment to full equality for women and a redefinition of what it means to be men, to discover a meaning to manhood that does not require blood to be spilled.”

White Ribbon UK

White Ribbon UK act as a catalyst, encouraging people, and especially men and boys, to individually and collectively take action and change behaviour. I must also mention, to my delight as a woman with disabilities, that White Ribbon UK has also earned the Disability Confident badge which is available to all organisations.

They are active on social media and Westminster working with MPs to bring about political change to support women who are experiencing violence and to promote a more equal society and my goodness do they have a lot of work still to do!

What you can do:

  • Make the promise! anyone over 14 can make it!
  • 8th December – Engaging men in preventing violence against women with Dr Michael Flood. He will share his research and practical knowledge to address what men can do to prevent and reduce violence against women.


November Branch meeting

17 Nov Branch mtg

We had a lovely branch meeting via Zoom, who would have thought we would get so used to saying that word let alone using Zoom.

We were very pleased to welcome two new members Karen Mason and Christine Pines to our group.

November has been a busy month for us.  We have been stitching and sewing for our linked charities (MK Act – Womens Refuge, YMCA Milton Keynes, British Red Cross MK  and Works for us).   We have been making lots of Xmas sacks in order that we can fill them with toys and sweets to give to our residents of these charities to help them celebrate Xmas, especially this year, in these difficult times. Below are just a few examples of what we have been up to.

Xmas sacks for toys and sweetsTartan Xmas sacksSelection of Xmas sacks

And to keep ourselves occupied, we are also making a Celebration Quilt as part of our plans to celebrate Soroptimists International 100 years.  Here are some of the quilt patches already made.

Soroptimists Quilt PatchWillen Lake Quilt patchQuilts and masks patchMK Concrete Cows quilt patch

We have agreed our meeting dates for 2021 and you can download these by clicking on the link below

download our 2021 calendar

If you want to join us at one of our events contact us via email at


Soroptimists International Centenary Celebrations 2021

SI 100 Years Celebrations 2021

Soroptimists across the world are joining together to celebrate 100 years of Soroptimist International (SI) in 2021.

There will be a number of events and ways to celebrate this momentous occasion taking place through out 2021, Click here

We have already started in the UK by celebrating the contributions of over  100 Soroptimists women, past and present, who have made a significant contribution to the society and its aims.  To read more about these women each month click here

We will be updating this section as more celebrations come on line and to also let you know how we in Milton Keynes plan to celebrate the Centenary.


Aaliyah Aries – how I cope with Dilated Cardiomyopathy

At our branch meeting in October we were very lucky to here from Aaliyah Aries.  Here is her story.

Aaliyah Aries youth panel member of Dilated Cardiomyopathy panel for young people

I am Aaliyah, I’m 17 years old. I am a second-year level 3 health and social care student and peer educator at Northampton college.

I am also a heart patient, being diagnosed with Dilated Cardiomyopathy at 12 years old after a few months of sickness and a few weeks of being extremely unwell. Previously, I lived a normal active life. My illness resulted in me staying in intensive care for a month and taking loads of medication.  My condition means that I will need to receive treatment for the rest of my life and its likely I will require a heart transplant at some unknown point in the future.  This page

contains more information about Dilated Cardiomyopathy:

Through my diagnosis I discovered Cardiomyopathy UK which is a national charity that focuses on heart muscle disease.  The charity put together a youth panel and I was asked to join as a founding member at the age of 14.  The panel is called CYP&YA which stands for Children Young People and Young Adults.  The CYP&YA Panel aims to raise awareness of the condition.  The lack of awareness is a particular problem for young people where heart issues are often dismissed as something else, which can be fatal like it almost was for me in 2015.  For more information about the Cardiomyopathy UK panel, visit this site:

Aaliyha Aries crochet rabbit therapyWhile I was in hospital after my diagnosis, one of the intensive care nurses taught me to crochet and I found it really relaxing – I still use art and my creativity as therapy, especially during the times when I struggled with my mental health.

I experience PTSD from the trauma of being faced with my mortality at such a young age. This experience triggered both significant anxiety and intermittent depressive states over the following years.

Over the last 5 years, with the support of my family I have managed to raise thousands of pounds for both Cardiomyopathy UK and Keech Hospice Care.

These 2 charities have done so much to support me during the most difficult times.  I enjoy giving back as much as possible.  Through the Cardiomyopathy youth panel, I provide peer support for other young people who have recently been diagnosed or need someone to talk to about their treatment.  It is essential that the panel provide this peer support because there is nothing better than talking with someone who understands your experiences.

Aaliyha Aries invited to one of the BBC Country file walks for Children in NeedThe Cardiomyopathy UK youth panel have recently started receiving support from BBC Children in Need.  Last year we spoke to a variety of people within the Children in Need team and I was asked to take part in one of their Countryfile Children in Need Rambles in 2019.  This was an amazing experience and helped the charity to raise hundreds of pounds for other young people who are struggling with their day to day life.

I want to continue developing my volunteering and charity work skills in the future and eventually become an art therapist for young people with complex health and wellbeing needs.

We hope you found this interesting and you can also visit her linked in profile (

Aaliyha Aries founder member of the Youth Panel for Dilated CardiomyopathyOne of Aaliyah Aries paintings of a lady with pink hair looking up to the skies

Quilts presented to YMCA residents

2019 resulted in the achievement of our most significant and biggest project undertaken to-date.  SI:MK raised £2,605 to sponsor a room at the new YMCA facility in Central Milton Keynes and made 30 quilts so that each resident could have their own quilt on their journey back into the community.
At the end of August, after being delayed by Covid-19, the quilt presentation went ahead during a meeting with the residents of supported living and each resident was gifted a quilt.  Lauren, at the YMCA, reported the feedback from the residents has been amazing, huge smiles and interactions with each other.  Apparently there are  room inspections and the quilts are displayed with pride on their beds.
There were a few left and these will be kept for future residents.
YMCA sent us some pictures and thanked SI MK for all our support over the last 12 months.

Picture presented to YMCA to hang in our sponsored room

And during August we were also able to meet up with Anne Rhind, Director of Development at YMCA MK to hand over our picture called Violet, after Violet Richardson who in 1921 founded the Soroptimists movement.  This picture will hang in the room  we have sponsored in the new YMCA facility.  The picture was re digitised by one of the learners from MK Snap.  Below is  Anne Rhind from the YMCA and the picture Violet.

Another successful project completed.

And now we are working on our 2020/21 project supporting MK Act.  To learn more about this click here

SI Milton Keynes Branch raising funds for MK Hospital new cancer unit

Our campaign for 2020-2021 is to address issues around domestic violence

We do this by helping to educate young people to identify when relationships are becoming abusive; we empower women looking to escape or change abusive homes through supporting the preventative, practical advice provided by MK ACT; we enable women to put their lives on a new path by fundraising for new hostel rooms at the YMCA and distributing dignity packs to over 3000 local women through the Red Cross each year. And we fund research to support the work of Works for Us, helping local women back into the workplace.

Join and support us in making Milton Keynes a life-enhancing community for women and girls.

If you are looking for immediate support, please contact our link charities directly – listed here.

Calendar dates for 2020 and 2021

Due to the current Covid-19 pandemic, our events have had to be cancelled, but we hope to be able to rescheduled them for 2021, so please watch this space.

At present all our branch meetings and Friendship Lunches are on line via Zoom.

Below are the calendar dates for 2020 and 2021.

Please keep an eye out for this update.

download our 2020 calendar

download our 2021 calendar

If you want to join us at one of our events contact us via email at


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