Introduction from our current Chair, Sue Key
To the left Sue Payne, our Secretary and one of our founding members. To the right, Sue Key, Chair.
Welcome to Soroptimist International Milton Keynes (SI:MK), part of Soroptimist International (SI), a global movement working to transform the lives of women and girls for the better in a myriad of ways.
In 2021 I have taken on the Chair of this wonderful go-getting group of women here in Milton Keynes who were chartered in 2015 and in June 2021 celebrated our 6th Charter Anniversary. I am new to Soroptimists and was introduced by a friend. You ask me why did I join. If this last year has proven one thing, it’s been very hard on all of us for many reasons. But it has highlighted the need for people to help support each other. I wanted to be able to help others to get back onto the ladder of life and to have a better life. I didn’t want to just make a donation but I wanted to do something and Soroptimist MK has helped me to do that, learn new skills, who would have thought I would become chair and make new friendships. A win win all round. I feel Soroptimists have become more important than ever now in these changed times in being there to help out those most in need.
Soroptimist International Milton Keynes:
Caring, Determined, Committed, Loyal, Friendly and Inclusive
Women and girls in Milton Keynes’ area have the resources and opportunities to reach their full potential and live their dreams
SI:Milton Keynes seeks to improve the lives of women and girls by initiating, supporting and promoting programmes leading to social and economic empowerment
We have a core strength of long-term members showing their commitment and support for Soroptimist International and their work to support our five local charities –
The British Red Cross,
Works for Us (now part of CAB MK),
The Winter Night Shelter,
and each year we concentrate on at least one major project linked to one of these charities. We love to be inventive and we encourage our members to think of ways of supporting these charities. We like to punch above our weight and have a vast network of friends to call on when we have projects and activities underway.
In June of 2021 we celebrated our 6th year of being chartered and although a small group, we have in those 6 years achieved quite a lot:
Between 2015 and 2018 we focused on educational awareness training by:
- Running awareness workshops in schools on Domestic Violence.
- Holding awareness raising workshops in schools and colleges on Forced Marriage.
- Donated to a young girl to help her through her football training course.
- Helped sixth formers at Ousedale and the Academy with their interview skills.
We adopted 4 local charities, which in 2020 became 5. We support these with:
- An annual donation
- A member working with each charity to identify and tailor our support to their needs
- Regular fund-raising raffles and events are held to raise funds
- Support at Christmas time with presents and for the YMCA residents we cook Christmas lunch
- Unused toiletries and sanitary products are collected and distributed to the charity users
Since 2015 we have collected and distributed £4,200 worth of toiletries to the users of our charities. These are vital items to help them live normal lives and give them the confidence to get out to education and work.
Each year we purchase, wrap and distribute xmas presents and food to our charities. For 2020 MK Act Womens Refuge asked for Xmas sacks to put the presents in. These were much loved and will be sewn again this year.
Our biggest project was for the new YMCA facility. We raised £2,605 to sponsor a room in the new YMCA building and made 30 quilts so that each resident could have their own on their journey back into the community.
During Covid we baked over 2,000 cakes to boost the morale of the families and the staff working at MK Act Women’s Refuge and made quilts for the families.
Donated £1,509 to MK Act Educational project with schools called “Escape the Trap” Teenage Relationship Abuse programme to help youngsters spot the signs and have the tools to cope.
We collected around 250 Bras which were sent to Gambia to help women and girls there.
Members joined a local campaign called #Postcards of Hope, writing a message of kindness & hope to a local vulnerable person experiencing isolation during lockdown. We sent over 70 postcards and in total 300 were sent to bring joy to over 150 people during lockdown.
Hats and scarves were knitted for the Winter Night Shelter and shepherds pies delivered every week during lockdown.
Our members and friends made 158 Hearts for Hope which we donated to Milton Keynes Cancer Centre and the ICU at MKHU with heartfelt thanks for all they have done during Covid.
Clean Starts Project commenced providing a bucket of cleaning goods for those families moving on from MK Act to help them in their new future. This has now been extended to The Winter Night Shelter helping those homeless people who have been relocated. And we will now be extending it to YMCA residents when they leave.
MK Community Foundation gave us a grant of £180 to help us set up back in 2015. In 2021 we donated £200 back to MK Community Foundation Women’s Fund as a thank you for their original donation.
Raised £200 for the Big Breakfast Princes Trust event to go towards their Women’s Fund.
Collected and delivered 5 car loads of adult and children’s clothing, toys and toiletries to the MK centres to distribute to the Afghan families housed in Milton Keynes.
In Sept 2021 we held the Violet Awards, named to honour Violet Richardson Ward, founding member of Soroptimists. The awards celebrated the hard work, especially during this pandemic of the staff and volunteers of the charities we support.
As a result of raffles and a Music event in Oct 2021 we were able to present the Winter Night Shelter Welfare team with a cheque for £700 to help their vital support work to the homeless in MK.
Just before Christmas we got a call from the Winter Night Shelter who were trying to help a mother with her autistic daughter into housing. She had nothing. Or members and friends rallied round and we were able to provide bed linen, clothing, toys, food parcel, heaters and a hoover to help her set up in her new home.
If you like what we do and want to make friends with like-minded women, have fun and work on projects that help improve the lives of women and girls locally, nationally and internationally, why not come and see us, the women of Soroptimist International Milton Keynes.
We firmly believe that we have much to offer any woman who wishes to join an organisation which focuses on women’s and girls’ issues, that supports local, national and international projects and raises funds to help women and girls. We are always on the look-out for more new members to help us and our work. If this interests you, why not contact us and come along to one of our meetings.
The club meets monthly. The business branch meeting is held on the third Tuesday at 5.30pm and concerns the groups planned activities and projects for the year. On the last Wednesday of the month at 1.00pm we have an informal friendship lunch for those members who can attend. We have a fun-packed programme of social events; occasions when the Soroptimist message to Educate, Empower & Enable women and girls is realised in a more light-hearted way. Click here to see our diary of meetings, lunches and event dates
All are Welcome – just contact us and you will receive a warm invitation to our next meeting.