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Presidents Message and Newletter – Number 79


Good Morning Sister Soroptimists,

I’m sorry but my message in this Newsletter is very brief as I have other things occupying my attention at the moment – I am currently moving house from Edinburgh to Morpeth – but more about that shortly !

Again we are recovering from intense areas of low pressure resulting in another two storms, Storm Malik and Storm Corrie, the former being named by the Danish Meteorological Institute hence the reason why it’s not in alphabetical order as for other storms. I was in Edinburgh that weekend and although we did have strong winds they didn’t seem to cause as much damage as I saw in Northumberland on the drive home. More trees were damaged and I learnt later that roof tops had been lifted off some houses. In Morpeth there must have been a power cut as I had TV, computer and clocks to re-set when I arrived home. Therefore I hope you didn’t suffer too much damage or weren’t without power for any length of time as in the previous storms. Despite the storms, we have been fortunate to have bright days which have been relatively warm for the time of year so let’s hope the rest of the winter continues this way.

As I’ve mentioned I am moving house and as anyone knows it can be stressful. Trying to put two houses together with a distance between them has not been easy! In addition, I have also had building work going on in the Morpeth house which had been planned well before I knew when I would be moving. Not good planning !

It has been like downsizing two houses, so I have had to get rid of quite a lot of furniture, household equipment and books. Although charities have been interested in some items, they are very particular and, in some cases, have been so busy due to Covid-19 that they didn’t have free capacity to take my items before I moved house. To help me out for the time being I have resorted to hiring a storage unit to take extra items which will need further sorting once I’m settled. When an offer was agreed in mid-December, along with the date of entry I thought that was it and everything would go smoothly but then the buyers started making extra demands in the New Year and I was concerned the deal was going to fall through. However, after an additional requirement this week it looks as though the buyers are now happy and the final stages of the change of contracts is now happening. So fingers crossed I will be moved by the time I write my next message.

I have welcomed the support of such good friends who have encouraged and cajoled me along the way and given lots of practical help moving and packing up items, going on trips to charity shops and the ‘tip’ and giving me cups of tea and the odd glass of wine to keep me going! Sorry this message has been such a rambling about my life at the moment, but I do hope you are all well.

Take care and look after yourselves Best wishes President Pam



 I am sure that we all wish President Pam well in the final stages of her house move.  It is said that moving house is one of the most stressful events in our lives so please do look after yourself Pam and rest and relax in between episodes of decision making and hard work.   

Our first report this edition comes from S.I. Penrith & District who are continuing their Programme Action involvement in Tree Planning as part of their work in relation to Climate Change.  

S.I.Penrith and District club members have been planning trees during January 2022 with Danny Teasdale of Ullswater Catchment Management.  The UCM group was set up after the devastating floods of Storm Desmond in 2015.   The UCM are engaged in various activities to help minimise the damage caused by flooding in the Ullswater Area.

The photograph  shows Danny Teasdale with members Liz, Anne, Jo, Helen and Pat taking a break from all their digging.

Over the course of two days they have planted over 200 hedging saplings on land owned by James Rebanks of Matterdale.   More digging and planning activity in this photograph below –  which also shows the beautiful sunny weather that we have had in January this year.


More reports come from S.I.Middlesbrough  on the subject of Climate Change where the club is now a member of the local authority’s Climate Action Forum to support the work being done across the Borough to promote a green agenda and look at how we, as individuals, can change our behaviour to encourage life styles that are comparable with sustainability.  Members recently compiled and shared a list of ’26 Environmental Actions to Save the Planet’ to mark COP26 –  small individual actions can make a big difference and many of us have already incorporated the suggestions into our lifestyles !

  • Use soap nut shells laundry detergent.  These are put into a little bag with the laundry and can be used 3 or 4  times and then composted.  Cost about 5p per wash.
  • Spot clean small stains.
  • Use shorter washing cycles and a lower temperature for laundry.
  • Powder detergents in cardboard boxes are better than liquid detergents in dense plastic bottles. Even worse for the environment are sine use laundry pods.
  • Avoid fragrant laundry products – try Ecover Zero.
  • Air dry clothes if possible.
  • Use shampoo in the form of soap bars – try Garnier and Lush.
  • Ordinary bleach is better for cleaning toilets than commercial toilet cleaners. Or use Vanish Oxi Advance cleaning powder.
  • Avoid wipes which contain plastic.
  • Buy fruit and veg loose whenever possible. Also bakery products in paper bags.
  • Take a shower instead of a bath.
  • Don’t clean your teeth under a running tap – just use the water you need.
  • Minimise the use of candles which produce carbon dioxide when they burn.
  • If possible, prepare food from fresh ingredients rather than for pre-prepared and packed in plastic and cardboard.
  • Shop locally – it supports the local economy and avoids making a journey.
  • Make use of charity shops when purchasing clothing.
  • Switch lights off when you leave a room.
  • Drive at an optimum speed – in urban areas to maintain a speed of between 15 and 20 mph is considered the most energy efficient.
  • LOBBY !  Challenge politicians to ensure that reduction targets are met.

Editor :  We wish S.I. Middlesborough members every success in changing their habits in their daily lives.    I do hope that we can all add to this list and keep addressing the challenges of living in a plastic free world.

I was sent this photograph of the Angel of the North ( taken by Graeme Peacock ) and I thought that it reflects our admiration for the wonders of our Universe  –  so pause for a moment and think how we need to protect our planet earth’s atmosphere in order to see such wonderful night time images

And –  finally in this edition   –  a report from  S.I. Newcastle upon Tyne  emphasises the power that we have as members to act as advocates when situations allow us to act and bring great benefits to our more local, vulnerable and needy communities.     Since the start of the pandemic,  many organisations have had to rethink the way in which they operate.  Some have  budgets which have been stretched due to responses from the demands of those most affected by the change in life that the pandemic has bought.  Others have found that they cannot continue to operate with their normal and therefore have surplus funds available for project work. The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust has not been able to award their travelling fellowships for two years now due to world wide travel restrictions.  Their Trustees agreed to put some unspent funds into a COVID-19 ACTION FUND and invite those existing Churchill Fellows from previous years to apply for a grant to support any work that they were involved in which alleviated the effects of Covid on communities.   The grants on offer were for a maximum of £10,000 and must be spent in the year 2022.   So far,  there have been three batches of funding released over the past 18 months.  

S.I.Newcastle upon Tyne have been working closely with the West End Women and Girls Centre in Elswick  (WEW&GCentre) which is one of the most deprived areas in the North East.  It also happens that one of the club members is a Churchill Fellow ( 1969  –  53 years ago !) and it was agreed that an application for funds would support a new project for the WEW&GCentre.    In the Grant application form we were able to report that their community has been devastatingly affected by rising inequalities and worsening mental and physical wellbeing, amplified by the COVID-19 Pandemic.  Elswick is in the bottom 3% of areas in England (IMD),  5% for income deprivation, employment and health,  and 10% for education.  It has one of the highest levels of child poverty in England at 39.4% and some of the highest levels of childhood obesity as well as the lowest life expectancy.  It has 47% BME residents, which has previously led to conflict between communities.  The pandemic has exposed deep and entrenched inequalities and also the fragility of food systems, with an unprecedented amount of food poverty being experienced by the members of the WEW&GCentre.  Research identifies that the negative impacts of COVID-19 are particularly acute among young women,  women in low income house-holds, disabled women, BAME women, lone mothers and those with caring responsibilities (Fawcett et al 2021).

The club Programme Action Officer approach the WEW&GCentre  to see if any particular project was sufficiently developed for a funding application to be made on their behalf.   The response was that the new FARM project had been costed and was ready to go .  The Centre has very recently taken on a long lease from the National Trust for a small holding of 10 acres in rural Northumberland.  This included a residential farm house with outbuildings to develop a bunk house and activity centre. So in a matter of two weeks before the closing date of 21 October 2021 the application form was completed and returned.   The assistance of the Development Worker Jill was invaluable for all the information that was needed.

This ariel photograph shows the isolated Farmhouse,  it’s out buildings and the location deep into Harwood Forest.

On 20 December a reply was received to say that the application  had been successful and a grant of £9,795  was approved  –  just within the £10,000 upper limit.    The funds are to be spent on :

  • To re-cover and refurbish an old Poly Tunnel with new doors, a cover and the installation costs :                                                                  £ 6,300
  • To supply a rainwater and irrigation system : £ 1,500
  • To supply a quantity of weed suppressant fabric :    £    265
  • To provide minibus transport for one year to transport the women and girls from the WEW&GCentre for about 1,000 visits to the Farm. £ 1,730


This photograph above shows the remains of the existing poly tunnel that will provide valuable protected growing space and weather protection for activities all year round.       Also the laying of the weed suppressant fabric in preparation for the digging and formation of the ground for vegetable growing.

The Farm project aims to :

  • set up a large growing space .
  • ensure regular access for women and girl from an area which has experienced multiple deprivation.
  • enable women to gain skills through meaningful activities, feed their own families and put mental and physical well being at the heart of the Covid-19 recovery.
  • provide a safe space for women and girls to have fun and be free in the wilds and will support those who are experiencing abuse and deprivation, enabling group work to build future leaders.
  • grow the small holding to be rooted in the knowledge of their members, make the land better for nature by diversifying , and planting heritage crops and orchards which are native to the area.

As can be seen from the above photograph of the views from the Farmhouse ( including the Poly Tunnel )  there is plenty of land for the planting of both native tree species and fruit bearing trees.   Jill is even thinking of having a ‘blossom circle’ so that all seasons of the year can be celebrated.   If your club might be interested in a tree (  or 2 –  or many more !)  then Jill would be pleased to hear from you. It is planned to have a tree day in late March/Easter .me when all the Soroptimist tree sponsors can gather together on the Farm to have a great activity day.  Trees start at £25 each  ( – or £60 for 4  or  £125 for 10  or £500 for 50 metres of hedgerow.  etc.)   See under ‘Farm’ on the website    . If you would like to know more about costs or discuss this project, then please do contact the Development Worker Jill   

EDITOR  :   Thank you for reading this longer than usual report but we were very excited about it in our Club and it serves as a reminder to look amongst your members for links to other organisations where funding might be available.  As Huffty at the Centre says      “If you don’t ask –  then you don’t get !”.     The clue as to who the club member was is to be found on the face book and social media postings on the day of the press releases on 27 January.  ( see photograph at the end of this Newsletter )


The Regional virtual Coffee Morning  has restarted and a good chat was had by all yesterday.  The next one will be on Saturday 5th March at 10.30am  for about an hour.  All are welcome including our furry friends.   Contact  for the Zoom link to join.

The next edi.on of this Regional Newsletter will be on Sunday 20 February for edition number 80  –  times flies !    As always,  please do continue to send in your reports of your activities and news.    


in friendship 

Your Editor and JIPP       Christine