November 2019 Dinner Meeting – Marking 16 Days of Activism to Tackle Violence Against Women
As Soroptimists we believe that all women and girls have a right to a safe and healthy life and to be protected from physical and mental abuse of all kinds. We hope that as a Club we will raise awareness locally of the campaign against violence against women through our campaigning activities during the 16 days. This is the second year we have done a big awareness raising campaign, and this year we are working with our local women’s refuge and support services Cheshire Without Abuse. Cheshire Without Abuse (CWA) is a charity working in the Cheshire East area. It supports women, men and children whose lives have been affected by domestic abuse. This is part of a huge international campaign – #He4She – which is run annually from White ribbon Day November 25th and lasting 16 days to December 10th, which is Human Rights Day. It is also part of the United Nations campaign to eliminate violence against women.
We are asking local men who live in our community to act as allies and messengers to promote the #He4She campaign https://www.heforshe.org/en to create a gender equal world. We believe that men are part of the solution to tackle gender-based violence, and having local men stand up to say NO gives a powerful message to everyone that men need to be involved. We have asked a range of diverse men to provide a photograph of themselves holding a poster saying “STOP violence against women and girls” Some of the men who have agreed to take part are influential figureheads such as the Chief Constable of Great Manchester Police who is a local resident, and the Mayor of Nantwich, whilst others are inspiring men in our local community such as a local coffeeshop owner, a dentist, a retired community nurse, even directors from CAT Radio. We are posting at least one photo a day throughout the campaign to build up a picture of support and encourage other men to say NO too.
At our dinner we heard Alice’s story of surviving domestic abuse, and she has written a blog to support our campaign. Here we are wearing ORANGE!
November report back from SIGBI National Conference in Bournemouth
Nine of us went to Bournemouth for the Annual SIBI Conference – it was stimulating and FUN! We heard from some inspirational speakers, and the theme of mental health and wellbeing was running through all the talks and activities. For more details of the conference itself here is a link to the conference site on the SIGBI Website: https://sigbi.org/bournemouth2019/
Here we are having some fun and getting the most out the event!
Wearing Green for Mental Health!
The Little Pink Tuk Tuk – supporting women to travel safely in Thailand
Relaxing over dinner
Dancing the Night Away with ABBA!!
Welcome to three new members in November!
Alice, Charlotte and Val with Club President Helen
October 2019 Dinner Meeting – Tracy and Gillian from YMCA
We had another inspiring evening with Tracy and Gillian from Crewe YMCA updating us on how their support to children and families has grown since we last met. We heard how mental health issues are affecting children and young people, and we were shocked to learn how children’s self-harm has become almost normalised with little help available to them. This makes services from the YMCA especially important and offering a real life line to vulnerable children and their families. It was good to hear that a great deal of fun is had with the children through their work, and we finished with a heart warming story of a young man’s transformation from sullen and uncooperative to becoming a model volunteer with purpose and enthusiasm to the point when he has been accepted back into school – a success!
As ever, we enjoyed a good meal!
September 2019 Dinner Meeting – Kate Blakemore talking about Motherwell services for mums with mental health issues
We had an inspiring talk and discussion about the services offered by Motherwell in Cheshire. Motherwell Cheshire has been empowering women on their mothering journey since 2015. Led by Kate Blakemore, a passionate women’s health advocate and counsellor, Motherwell is run by women, for women. As she says, ‘Our specialist team are experts in mental health – Our mission is to bridge the gap in support services for women’s wellbeing across Cheshire’. Kate explained that she saw a need for help for some women to build resilience and for many of them, deal with trauma from their childhoods in difficult circumstances. This could be for example following an infant death, being at risk of having their child looked after or being at risk of self-harm. Motherwell offers counselling and peer support to mums in an atmosphere free from judgement, empowering mums to be the best they can be. Recently they are able to offer social prescribing activities for mums such as a book group and walking.
Club members were extremely interested in what Kate had to say and learned a lot about the issues that the women receiving services are facing. We were inspired by what Kate has achieved so far, and impressed by her passion, ambition and energy to make it a success. We will continue to work with Kate as she continues to lead Crewe Women’s Day as well as raise awareness of what Motherwell has to offer.
July 2019 Dinner Meeting – Hearing from the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre (Cheshire and Merseyside)
On 23 July, the club had a moving and inspirational presentation from Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre (Cheshire and Merseyside). Project manager Kirsty explained the setup of the charity and the way the Centre works for and with survivors of sexual abuse. She shared some shocking statistics which highlighted just how necessary their services are: at least 20% of women in this country experience some form of sexual abuse in their life time, and around 3% will have experienced sexual abuse in the last year. And these statistics include only those cases where women have disclosed the abuse. Undoubtedly the real figures are considerably higher! The Centre itself has been going in our region since 1995 and performs an absolutely vital service for the community in Crewe and surroundings which is funded by the Council and the local crime commissioner amongst others. Last year alone, they had nearly 1,300 referrals and they deal not only with adult women but also with men and children.
The club then heard from a volunteer, herself a survivor of historic sexual abuse, who spoke bravely and very openly about her personal story and journey, after a history of childhood sexual abuse. She described very movingly how the abuse overshadowed not only her childhood but had lasting impact on her mental health and her life choices. This was made worse when she discovered that one of her siblings had also been abused, without her knowing about it. In recent years, with the help of the Centre, she managed to report the abuse to the police and live through a harrowing court case. She described how throughout the court case, she was supported by an independent sexual violence adviser (ISVA) which helped her cope with the stress and trauma of the proceedings. As a result, and with some therapy arranged by the Centre, she has developed the strength to tackle and overcome many of her own issues and she’s now in a position to help other women in similar situations as a volunteer for RASASC.
Club members were profoundly touched by the presentation and full of admiration for the volunteer after listening to her story. In addition to many questions, there was a lively discussion about the features of our criminal justice system in which the odds seem to be stacked squarely against survivors who are willing to come forward and accuse their abusers, often after many years of silence. In the vote of thanks to the speakers, the club officer recognised that this was probably one of the most important and inspirational presentations the club has had in many years and undoubtedly, the club will wish to follow up on some of the issues raised in the discussion in its own work.
June 2019 Dinner Meeting – Understanding Dementia and what it means to be a Dementia Friend
At the start of the meeting we were delighted to welcome new member Jane Wharton to the club.
The main event of the evening after this was hearing from Ben Selby about his work as a dementia champion in Nantwich and helping us understand more about dementia and what we can do to help the area become more dementia friendly. Ben is driven by his own personal experience of caring for his granddad and spoke from the heart about how dementia affects people, and very importantly, how we can help people living with dementia have a good quality of life. We did an exercise to step into the shoes of someone living with dementia, which was very interesting and illuminating.
We are looking forward to taking this forward to support Crewe and Nantwich become dementia friendly communities
April 2019 Dinner Meeting- Dementia UK and their Admiral Nurses
At the first dinner meeting of her Presidential year Helen welcomed 5 prospective new members who joined us for the evening. Following the usual tasty dinner we heard from Helen Green and Ceri Garrett from Dementia UK. Mental Health is the core theme of Presidents Helen’s year in office and our speakers focussed on the care they provide for people suffering from a range of dementia related illnesses.
Admiral Nurses provide the specialist dementia support that families need. When things get challenging or difficult, the nurses work alongside people with dementia, and their families: giving them one-to-one support, expert guidance and practical solutions. The unique dementia expertise and experience an Admiral Nurse brings is a lifeline–it helps families to live more positively with dementia in the present, and to face the challenges of tomorrow with more confidence and less fear. Most Admiral Nurses work in the community for the NHS, and others work in care homes, hospitals and hospices.
Members had plenty of questions for our speakers and all agreed that the evening was a great start for our project focus in the coming year.
We also learnt from Sue Piddock Jones about the Bravissimo bra collecting project-
“At Bravissimo, lots of us are keen to do our bit for others and everyone who works for us has a say in the national charity we choose to support. This year, for the second time in recent years, we have chosen to support Mind. Every year, one in four of us will experience a mental health problem, which means that every family, every workplace, and every friendship circle could be affected. We’re really pleased to be able to support them in their belief that no-one should have to face a mental health problem alone.”
and all agreed to have a rummage through their wardrobes to see if any old bras could be contributed!
April 2019 Business meeting- AGM and Change of Insignia
The AGM is an occasion to reflect on the year past and plan for the forthcoming year. An interesting part of the 2019 AGM were the reports from Club officers which revealed the wide range of activities the Club undertook during the past 12 months: support for the Anti- Slavery Campaign, Christmas gift boxes, support for International Women’s Day, lunch at the Clink, trip to see the Book of Mormon – to name but a few! Members also noted the revised and improved social media coverage for our club!
However, the highlight of the evening was the Change of Insignia when President Nancy passed the Presidential ‘reins’ to incoming President Helen for the 2019/2020 year.
Helen addressed the meeting:
“First of all I would like to thank Nancy for a very good year. the AGM reports were great and showed how much we’d achieved and that we all worked well together. I think that year actually reflected Nancy’s own personality – informal but very friendly and she got things done. As our gift from the club, Nancy requested a voucher from John Pass the Jeweller. So I know that we will all insist on having a good look at whatever she buys.”
She continued her presentation by outlining her themes for the coming year. The new SIGBI Federation President, Sue Williams, has a theme for her year entitled ‘Think on it’ which encourages Members to raise awareness of mental health. Helen said “I am taking her lead and devoting my whole year to all aspects of mental health. Now that may all sound a bit depressing but it isn’t because in each situation we are going to be looking at the positives. What can be done by experts and amateurs like us to make things better. We will also be looking for projects in which we can get involved.” She went on to give details of all the speakers and activities lined up for the coming months. [Note: see the Diary for full details of speakers.]
Members concluded with a group photo to mark the start of Helen’s Presidency.
February 2019 Dinner Meeting
Once again our meeting started with a delicious dinner for members and guests at the Hunters Lodge Hotel. It was followed by a fascinating and inspiring talk from Kay Carson from the Nantwich Job Club. She talked engagingly about how the Club works with those struggling with life, debts and getting into work. She explained how her faith and strong sense of social injustice had led her to work with the group ‘Christians against Poverty’ who support and sponsor the Job Clubs. She encouraged listeners to think strategically: what ideas could they contribute to help organisations and businesses aid those who struggle to engage with society in the ‘usual’ way?
Thanks to Kay for a most thought- provoking presentation.
It being ‘Fair Trade Fortnight’ members also contributed Fair Trade items to the Food Bank and admired and purchased soft toys made by a friend of a member in aid of charity.
January 2019 Dinner Meeting
A Talk about the YMCA parenting programme
Members braved a cold and snowy January evening to enjoy dinner followed by a most interesting talk from Tracey and Judith from the YMCA in Crewe about their parenting programmes. SI Nantwich made a donation to the Parenting Groups at Christmas which enabled the organisers to provide a number of jolly seasonal parties for their groups. SI Nantwich also donated some attractive hardback notebooks to help parents struggling to cope and organise their lives. Tracey told us about one mum who had found the notebook so useful it went everywhere with her!
Members also examined the book that the YMCA use as the basis of their help sessions. Those of us with children might have found this useful ourselves!