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Presidents Message and Newsletter – Number 78


Good Morning Sister Soroptimists,

Another sunny but chilly day. I hope you have been enjoying the glorious bright blue skies during January. It is wonderful to see the days becoming longer with lighter mornings and the afternoons not darkening some days until almost 5.0pm. As well as having such beautiful weather during the days, the nights have also excelled with clear, starry skies and Monday 17th January saw the first full moon of 2022. Since then the full moon, known as the Wolf Moon, has been magnificent as a bright globe. Let’s hope the rest of the moth continues to be so enjoyable and makes winter easier to manage.

On Saturday 15th January, Karen and I attended a virtual Programme Action webinar to discuss whether there should be another SIGBI Federation project. The session was hosted by Dr Kay Richmond ( SIGBI Programme Director ) with two additional speakers, Ruth Healey ( President Elect) and Sylvia Watson ( Director of Governance).

After an introduction to the webinar, Ruth began with her presentation “Considering the Financial Issues” and addressed issues such as :

  • Where does the money come from, …… is it ‘clean’ money ?
  • Where are donations coming from eg consider money laundering ?
  • Where is the money going : to an individual or an entity ?
  • Getting into the project – creating a detailed plan with a specific budget and binding agreement.
  • Any Finally – be prepared to pull the plug.

Sylvia followed this presentation and dealt with “Governance in Projects”. She indicated that the principles for small projects are the same for Federation wide projects, before considering three general areas : Laws, Politics and Procedures – all of which are designed to protect the different parties involved. She also stressed that projects must be designed to further SIGBI objectives and have clear measures to review and evaluate success.

Kay drew the session to a close by addressing “Other factors to consider” such as :

  • Support for previous projects.
  • Compliance and operational risks when working internationally.
  • The Board’s considerations and
  • Possible ways forward ie the degree of involvement at Club/NA/ Country/SIGBI level.

Everyone then divided into break out rooms to discuss the following questions:

  1. Should we have another SIGBI project or not ?
  2. If yes, how should the project be selected ?
  3. If no, how should we progress ?


There was a clear majority for NOT having a SIGBI Project ( Yes 34% and No 56% ).

There was also a clear steer for supporting the SI President’s Appeal and the Diamond Education Grant thus giving opportunities for international and local interests.

This was an excellent webinar with clear presentations and useful discussion involving all in the decision making process.

Take care and look after yourselves.

Best wishes President Pam

EDITOR………and so to Club news that has been received in the past couple of weeks:-

S.I. Tynedale have been working hard to support the West Northumberland Food Bank with food and other essential donations amounting to 100 items – for the 100 SI years celebrations.

The letter of thanks that the Club received demonstrates how poverty and COVID-19 have affected even the most rural and peaceful looking communities. The Food Bank closed its drop-in sessions in Prudhoe, Haltwhistle and Hexham in March 2020 and opened a help-line and delivery service instead. Since then they have made over 5.200 door step deliveries and covered about 18,000 miles delivering food parcels to an average of 68 homes every week across 14 towns and villages as far west as Halton Lea Gate on the border with Cumbria, to Bellingham in the north, Allendale to the south and Greenside to the east.

 “Don’t know what I would do without my parcels from the food bank. I would struggle and be in more debt. My parcels really help me a lot”.

“I suffer from depression and anxiety; to get doorstep delivery is a godsend. Without this I don’t know what I would do. Always friendly service and nice to talk to someone”.

“I am so grateful for all the help you provide for me and my family. I wouldn’t be able to pay off my debt or my rent arrears if you didn’t help us and I just wanted to say “thank you!”

The photograph above shows members of S.I. Tynedale with Norah Thornthwaite on the far right who is a regular volunteer packing the food parcels and who is also on the West Northumberland Food Bank Board.

This Food Bank goes on to report that they have been able to purchase extra supplies to provide over 9,000 food parcels ( about 120 parcels per week with each one containing £16 worth of tinned, dried and fresh food ) and this can be supplemented with supermarket vouchers for households in a sudden financial crisis. Donations to the Food Bank have helped them to buy 2 vans, create a hardship fund for people in crisis and refurbish a store room for our helpline office. Almost a third of the parcels go to people who had not used these services before COVID and on average 4 new households call the Helpline every week and need help navigating the system and accessing help.

S.I. Stockton-on-Tees received a bonus from their Christmas deliveries. Their Club decided to give Christmas gifts to three charities :

The Food Bank; The Rainbow Room at North Tees Hospital; and ‘A WAY OUT’ which is a charity which supports vulnerable women, girls, and families. They appealed for warm hats, gloves, scarves. socks and umbrellas, plus selection boxes and toiletry sets.

 Margaret Wall and Joyce Chesney were shopping for these items in Poundland Stockton when they approached a member of staff, Maureen Hards, to ask for more scarves. Maureen obliged and asked why they were buying these items ? They explained that they were Soroptimists, what they were doing and why, giving contact details. Maureen said the store also liked to support local charities and maybe they could help in the future.

Shopping completed, and eventually delivered to ‘A WAY OUT’, Margaret and Joyce thought nothing more about the conversation until on the Monday before Christmas, and out of the blue, Joyce received a telephone call from Maureen saying there was a quantity of gifts waiting, if they could be collected that day !

The gifts amounted to seven sacks of selection boxes which were immediately taken to the HQ of ‘A WAY OUT’ in time for their final Christmas delivery.

So – proved that it is always useful to tell stories about what you are shopping for and who we are, in the Stockton-on-Tees case – it was very productive !

The photograph shows Maureen from Poundland Stockton helping to load the 7 bags of Christmas donations into Joyce Chesney’s (Soroptimist blue !! ) car.

S.I. Sunderland have developed an ‘Executive Committee Newsletter’ following a decision to stop having separate Business Meeting as they were poorly attended. The intention is to keep members informed and up to date about items discussed at Executive meetings. Any queries can be raised on an individual basis with the relevant officer or at Supper Meetings. So far this has been well received. One member said “ ….. a concise Newslett0er which covers all the points discussed in Executive meetings. I feel that the Newsletter keeps members better informed than having a Business Meeting. It is always useful to refer to the Newsletter if you want to be reminded of information. The way forward in 2022 in a modern and approachable S.I .Sunderland. “ Editor : If any member from another club would like to receive and read the new Club Executive Committee Newsletter then please contact their PA and Communications Officer : Denise Wilson:

S.I. Newcastle upon Tyne received a very welcome donation from their long standing Friendship Link Club S.I. Glasgow City who had sent each one of their Friendship Link Clubs the funds to plant a tree in their own locality to commemorate the Centennial Year of Soroptimist International.  Plans were made for this to happen as the tree planting season began again in November but the date was postponed to December 2021 and then again to January 2022 as Storm Arwen devastated over 300 trees and parks around the City. On 10 January 2022, members gathered in Exhibition Park in central Newcastle with their partner agency “Urban Green” who now manage the City’s Parks, gardens, and allotments on behalf of the Council. Club members had originally asked that the tree be planted in the Sensory Garden adjacent to the excellent new Cafe that is now open. However, over the years of neglect when this long established Sensory Garden was left to grow unattended, it had been agreed that since there were new plans for renovation being drawn up, that this Soroptimist tree would be planted elsewhere so that it did not have to be moved again.

The tree ( a Himalayan Silver Birch ) was formally planted by Club President Christine Tomkins with a great deal of help digging the hole by club member Heather Niven. ( see above photograph with President Christine on the right ). The tree has a plaque and is easily found in the area between the Wylam Brewery building ( the former Palace of the Arts ) and the Lake.

A bonus of this outing to the Exhibition Park was that Heather Niven, who was formerly the Director of Newcastle Society of Blind People – and the instigator of the Sensory Garden, was able to hand to staff of Urban Green original papers, drawings and photographs of the Sensory Garden. This is be of great value as they decide how to renovate this tranquil space which is very accessible next to the new Cafe.

S.I. Middlesbrough are beginning to wind up the sales of their very successful ‘lockdown’ book “Over Coming the Odds”. It has been decided that surplus copies of the book should be put to good use with local school children and their teachers. These are some actions that have been taken to date :

  • Teachers and female students involved in the recent Cleveland Scientific Institution Centenary Competition for Schools have received copies.
  • One secondary school, Outwood Academy Riverside in Middlesbrough, requested 40 books as class texts. The school Science Technician explained that they were to use these texts in an attempt to inspire their female students, in a bid to help tackle the gender gap in STEM. Each female student in each of our top sets, as well as both of the science teachers will be issued a copy of the book. They believe this will be the perfect gifts for International Women’s Day on 8th March. They also plan to keep a couple of copies in the library for all students to read at their leisure.
  • A local inspirational educator, Nicole Waller, who recently won a prestigious Royal Society of Chemistry Education Award will keep a copy and distribute 20 others to teachers from Tees Valley that she is training in March. Nicola has been involved with the University of York’s Children Challenging Industry (CCI) project for many years in the Tees Valley.

If any other clubs in SINE would like to sponsor some copies of this very informative and inspiring book for their local schools and centres , then please contact Pam Cooper ( ) for costs and P&P.


Saturday 5th February : We are resuming the SINE Regional COFFEE MORNING at 10.30am for about an hour. If you would like to join us ( and all members are very welcome ) then please contact Margaret Ayton at  who will send you the Zoom link to join us. We look forward to our social ‘catch up’ .

Sunday 27th February : Please remember to contact S.I. Tynemouth, Whitley Bay and District if you are intending to go to their 75th anniversary Tea Party from 2.30pm to 4.30pm at the St Mary’s Suite, Spanish City, Whitley Bay NE26 1BG. The afternoon tea will be followed by guest speakers from the North Shields Heritology Project, a charity which works to bring the area’s rich heritage to life using new technologies – and there will be live music from The Singing Hinnies and Tyneside Acappella. Reassurances have been received that social distancing and safety measures will be in place. The cost is £25 and please book by 29th January at the latest at

Tuesday 8th March is International Women’s Day and it would be lovely to have lots of reports of club activities for the following edition of this Regional Newsletter on Sunday 20 March. Please do send in your reports, stories and photographs to share with others.

Saturday 19 March is the date for the next SINE Regional Council Meeting which will again be on Zoom and open for all members to attend. Further details to follow.

To finish – here is a collage of photographs recording some of the 100 for 100 events and challenges taken across the region last year.  What a lovely lot of smiling faces and thanks to Cris Young for compiling this.

Yours, in friendship Editor and JIPP Christine Lumsdon : PHOTOS OF 100 SOROPTIMISTS VOLUNTEERING,RAISING FUNDS OR SIMPLY HAVING FUN 2020-2022