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Read about our Recent Events

This page tells you a bit about our recent meetings and events. For upcoming dates please take a look at our Meetings and Events and About our Club page.

If you would like more information about Soroptimist International, please do get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.

SIOD raise money for the Women’s Refuge

February 2022

Members, their friends and families organised various activities around reading in order to raise money for the Women’s Refuge. This included being sponsored to read as much as possible and meeting to read and discuss our favourite books with each other.

SIOD members raising money with a read-in

Oxford visit SI Bonn, Germany

May 2019

Four members of SI Oxford and District visited SI Bonn to join the club in watching the annual ‘Rhine in Flames’ celebrations. We experienced a wonderful weekend of hospitality, fun and friendship as guests of Soroptimists from our friendship link club, Bonn-Siebengebirge. We enjoyed museum visits, sight-seeing, and social events culminating in a wonderful evening at the ‘Rhein in Flammen’. This is a traditional event with at least forty boats lit up travelling down the Rhine and to top the evening off there was an amazing firework display. It was a wonderful visit and an opportunity to build friendships and share experiences on projects supported.

Nursing and the Samaritans

January 2019

Kay McCallum, the Lead Nurse in Oncology at the OUH trust, came to talk about her work as a nurse and her volunteering as a Samaritan. Kay was a most engaging speaker and was very willing to answer questions during her talk. She had trained in Northern Ireland, worked at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, and then worked as a MacMillan Nurse in Scotland before coming to Oxford. Since coming to Oxford she had met and married her husband and in addition to her hospital job she volunteers with the Oxford branch of the Samaritans. Kay gave us a very good overview of the history of the Samaritans as well as the kind of calls she can receive. It was a great pleasure to listen to her stories and to hear her enthusiasm for her work and volunteering.

The Samaritans help anyone who needs them. Most people who contact the Samaritans are not suicidal. They will give you an opportunity to talk about any thoughts or feelings you have, whatever they may be.


Sushi making

November 2018

We had an excellent evening making our own sushi-style rolls under the guidance of Roll With Me Sushi.

Good Morning, Lords and Ladies

September 2018

Barry and Gill Goodman gave us a very interesting talk about folk customs and traditions around the UK from their own experiences of the folk scene over the last 40 years. They went through the year starting with May day traditions such as May poles and Jack in the Green, and ending with Jack Valentine in Norfolk in February. It was interesting to hear how many traditions were lost at the beginning of the 20th century and were then revived in the 1970s and 80s!! The talk was punctuated with songs and we were all encouraged to join in the choruses! The most interesting tradition was the Tar Barrel rolling that takes place on Bonfire night in Ottery St Mary, Devon, sounds like an amazing sight although I’m not convinced about the health and safety provisions!

Emotional Intelligence

July 2018

Club member Berna Bridge gave a fascinating and very interesting talk to members about Emotional Intelligence. We are used to referring to intelligence as a general quality as many of us in our earlier years would have undergone IQ tests. However intelligence takes a number of forms and emotional intelligence is just one. Briefly it is about how well we handle ourselves and our relationships. It includes such elements as self awareness, self management, for example how we deal with difficult emotions in an effective way, and empathy – understanding how someone else is feeling. Members greatly enjoyed Berna’s talk.

Nasio Trust

June 2018

The Nasio trust, which has its UK headquarters in Oxfordshire, was founded when a local woman (Irene Mudenyo) in rural Kenya found an abandoned baby in a sugar cane field and took him into her home.  Over time with help from her daughters Irene created a day care centre for orphaned children which eventually became the Nasio Trust. Our speaker – UK secretary Sue Russell – told us how since its beginings the Nasio Trust has blossomed into a force for good with local Kenyan workers and UK volunteers working hard together to provide food, education and healthcare for local children.  A school and a medical centre have been built by teams from both countries.  Funding has increased over time so that the charity is able to support projects further afield, for example the Oldonyosambu water project in Tanzania. The Nasio Trust also supports income generating projects such as spirulina production and sustainable farming.

Funds for the trust are raised in all the usual ways in this country but also through school and other groups climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.  Our members decided that this was perhaps not for them but that we would knit red jumpers, the school uniform, and buy pretty pants for girls who do not have them and need them, of course, especially during their periods.


Maggie’s Centre, Oxford

Pip Dingle, Fundraising Manager from Maggie’s Oxford, gave a most interesting talk on all the work that the Centre does. It offers free, practical, emotional and social support for people with cancer, and to their families and friends.

The beautiful building has been specially designed so that it feels more like a home than a hospital with a big kitchen table at its heart.
On average about 50 a day visit the Centre for support with all this work carried out entirely through voluntary donations. No Government or NHS funding. Just amazing!
February 2018

At February’s Programme Action Evening, Maria Skoyles told us all about her amazing Dress Project.  In 2016 Maria designed a dress ‘that would empower the voiceless in the fashion supply chain’. The design has been patented and developed so that it can be made in remote parts of the world.  It comes in one size which fits all including pregnant and breast feeding women. Each garment is made using fair trade fabric and Maria stressed the importance of providing the dress maker with a fair price of 30% of the selling price.

To find our more about The Project and the work Maria does visit

Regional Meeting – Celebration of International Human Rights Day

December 2017

Club members from around the region were treated to an excellent day at Bedford in celebration of such an important international day. Barbara Conridge and Angela Huddart, trustees from Yarl’s Wood  Befrienders, gave an inspiring presentation on the work that is done by befrienders to support women at the immigrant removal centre.
In the afternoon Professor Helen Atkinson, Pro Vice Chancellor at Cranfield University, whose talk with the intriguing title of ‘Cornflour, Ketchup and Parts of Cars, was excellent. She not only informed us of the work done at the university but also about the engineering opportunities available to young women in our world today. She reinforced the fact that engineering is NOT about males and spanners!

Dementia Friends and Project Shoebox

November 2017

 Senhoa, which is part of the Senhoa Foundation, is a social business that creates lovely jewellery made by women who are vulnerable to human trafficking and exploitation in Cambodia.  Club members supported the organisation at our recent meeting by buying items of jewellery which will help to support the women who made the pieces while also helping to fund education and empowerment programmes for vulnerable communities. (Source –
Fiona Joines joined our November club evening to run a Dementia Friends Workshop so that we would all be better informed about the disease but also hopefully become a Dementia Friend. The organisation has gained 2.3 million friends since it started and after the workshop even more! The workshop was really fun and also informed us of a number of key messages, for example – dementia is not a natural part of ageing and it is possible to live well with dementia. Workshop activities helped to increase our understanding or how challenging simple tasks like making a cup of tea can be for those living with the disease.

We also collected items for the Project Shoebox Oxford for women and families in need.

PLAN International

September 2017

Rebecca Lewin gave a really interesting and informative presentation on her role as Director of Logistics and Procurement at PLAN International. Although the organisation is not as well known as, for example, Oxfam, it is much bigger. PLAN has many roles including focusing on economic security and disaster risk. As part of their global strategy they are aiming to transform the lives of 100 million girls.
Rebecca remarked on the problems that can arise if too many aid groups arrive at the same crisis and also the essential role that a very large fleet of motor bikes play in their work!
Club members were tasked with some scenarios to decide upon action needed. This really highlighted to us the complexity of e.g. identifying suitable suppliers to purchase goods from to provide help during a crisis, or what sort of emergency supplies are most important to get to people in need when time and transport options are limited.

For more information on PLAN International go to


Meru Women’s Garden Project – Kenya

May 2017
Pam Robertson, London Chilterns Region ambassador for the project gave a most interesting talk on our current Federation project. The Meru Garden Project in collaboration with ‘is supporting some of the poorest women-led households in Kenya and is entirely focused on providing opportunities to women and girls who may never otherwise be given the chance to earn an income. Improved food production and education is supporting women and girls to transform their lives’. (
Pam updated us on the latest developments and the money raised by clubs so far of around £48,000 is making a huge difference to the lives of women and girls.
For more information on this project see the Meru women’s garden project website.

Refugee Resource

15th March 2017
Club members were treated to a very moving and informative talk by Eden Habtemichael, Women’s Services Co-ordination at the Oxford charity Refugee Resource Eden came to the UK in 2001 from Eritrea and since then she has worked tirelessly for other migrant and refugee women in Oxford.
This year Eden has won the prestigious Women on the Move Award, Woman of the Year 2017. This award is organised by Migrant Organise and UNHCR to recognise and celebrate inspirational leadership and contribution from migrant and refugee women to U.K. Society. Congratulations to Eden!
[Source: Refugee Resource Press Release]

Domestic Abuse

15th February 2017

Clare Roche gave members a most informative and engaging talk on domestic abuse at this month’s meeting. She started her work with young victims through volunteering with a charity which deals with sexual abuse but now works with victims of domestic abuse. She outlined the five different types of domestic abuse and informed us that 2 – 3 women each week in the UK are killed in instances of domestic abuse. Clare reminded members of the new law introduced by Theresa May which has made coercive control illegal. This covers for example, isolation, humiliation, exhaustion and fear. To conclude her talk Clare showed members two short videos and recommended the You Tube video ‘Love You To Death’.

Take a look at our Meetings & Events page to see what’s coming up for our monthly meetings this year!

To see what other topics we’ve heard talks on, causes we’ve supported, and activities we’ve enjoyed in the past, visit our Our Archive page.