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, a global movement working to transform the lives of women and girls for the better in a myriad of ways.
In 2021 I took on the Chair of this wonderful go-getting group of women here in Milton Keynes, who were chartered in 2015 and in June 2021 we celebrated our 6th Charter Anniversary as well as the Centenary year for all Soroptimists. I was new to Soroptimists and introduced by a friend. You ask me why did I join. If the pandemic 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 future. 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 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 the following local charities –
Works for Us (now part of Citizens Advice MK),
MK Act, Women’s Refugee
The Winter Night Shelter and,
and each year we try to 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.
What do we get up to:
We feel that we have achieved quite a lot in our short time:
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 currently work with 5 local charities, alongside projects we take on during the year. We support our charities 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 in what ever the form the charities need, this includes cooking Christmas meal for the YMCA residents and putting on a buffet at the Winter Night Shelter
- Unused toiletries and sanitary products are collected and distributed to the charity users
Since 2015 we have collected and distributed over £4,5k 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.
Our Christmas projects have included purchasing, wrapping and distributing 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 were asked for again in 2021. For 2022 we were at last able to put on a food buffet for the users of the Winter Night Shelter along with a donation of chocolate bars, which were woofed down within a day and cooked a Christmas meal for the stage 1 residents at the YMCA. And Food vouchers were donated to the families at MK Act.
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 Start 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. And obtained and donated £10k of Vodophone SIM cards to the families staying in MK.
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. This event was gratefully received by our charities and we are hoping to host it again in 2023.
In Oct 2021 we held our first Music event and as a result 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. This event was so successful we held a second in 2022 and raised over £800 that was donated to Soroptimist International Krakow and their projects with Ukrainian refugees in Poland and to the Ukraine Appeal working with families in MK.
Just before Christmas 2022 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. Our 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.
We also got involved when the Ukraine crisis unfolded and have donated over 6 car loads of clothes that were sent back to the Ukraine as well as donations to the Ukraine Appeal to support the families here in Milton Keynes. And we are really happy the Ukraine Appeal have agreed to be one of our link charities and we are looking forward to working with them.
Since 2021 we have hosted our annual International Women’s Day Afternoon Tea event at the fantastic MK Snap premises. Our members bake cakes and friends help us with great raffle prizes and we raise funds for our charity of the day, listen to great speakers and generally have a lovely time.
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 12.30pm 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.
Page last checked 11 April 2023