Read about our Recent Events
If you would like more information about Soroptimist International, please do get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.
Regional Meeting – Celebration of International Human Rights Day
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 https://plan-international.org
Meru Women’s Garden Project – Kenya
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’.
Madagascar – What hope for the Big Red Island?
16th November 2016
We had a wonderful talk from Chris Sewell about the charity work of Money for Madagascar, some of the country’s history and what life there can be like. Chris also bought lots of beautiful Madagascan items and crafts (mostly hand made locally) for us to buy. Proceeds went to Money For Madagascar which support projects aimed at tackling many of the key issues facing Madagascar today including: extreme poverty, loss of bio-diversity, poor health, lack of food security and limited access to education.
19th October 2016
At October’s club meeting we celebrated some of the Programme Action work that we have been involved in. It was also Breast Cancer Awareness month so to mark this some of our members wore something pink.
Let’s Celebrate Women – A Better Tomorrow for Women Today
Regional Conference, June 2016
Around 60 Soroptimists from clubs around the region attended this conference in Milton Keynes.
Excellent speakers included Jackie Chappell, entrepreneur founder of The Ironing Lady, Ruth Dearney CEO of Stop The Traffic spoke movingly and with inspiration about the work of her charity reminding all of us that trafficking is the fastest growing crime in the world today and Alison Bird introduced us to the Buddy Bag Foundation.
Super entertainment was provided by the Sakura Japanese Ladies choir and members of the MK Ladies Football Team ensured we were all wide awake for the afternoon session – great fun!
This was a wonderful day for everyone present.
Advances in Medical Genetics
Dr Deirdre Cilliers gave a most interesting and informative talk which all of those present could have listened to all night!
Did you know that humans share 90% of their genes with mice, 30% with yeast, 40% with worms and 70% with zebra fish but as expected 99% with chimps. Apparently we have a fully functioning gene for wings – it’s just switched off!
Not only did Deirdre explain comparative genetics but also chromosomal disorders (where micro arrays which are twice as effective as previous methods are used), new technology called ‘next generation sequencing’ (which can sequence the whole genome) and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis.
Deirdre and her department are based in Oxford but they hold clinics in neighbouring counties as well.
Philppine Community Fund
Sheila Elsey gave an inspiring talk about the work of the Philippine Community Fund at this month’s club meeting. The PCF improves the lives of the poorest Filipino communities through health, education and family enhancement programs. Sheila shared with us photographs of some of the people who are benefiting from their work. In the last 13 years the organisation has built a school from 78 freight containers providing education for 800 children – an amazing achievement. The adults and children who are supported live in the most impoverished and squalid conditions including in shanty towns by city rubbish dumps where residents search for recyclable rubbish. PCF provides adults skills training and livelihood projects which offer families an alternative to waste picking. The photograph shows some of the items made by local women and some men that are sold to provide them with an income.
Parkinson’s Fundraising Evening
Seventy Soroptimists, friends, colleagues and family members were treated to a most entertaining evening by one of television’s most talented comedy writers, producer and script editor, Paul Mayhew-Archer. He is best known for co-writing the hit television series ‘The Vicar of Dibley’ with Richard Curtis and other works include ‘Mrs Brown’s Boys’ and the adaptation for television of ‘Esio Trot’.
He entertained the audience with many recollections of his life as a writer and although now living with Parkinson’s disease it is not as he says ‘the end of the world’.
You can find more information about Parkinson’s disease at http://www.parkinsons.org.uk/
An Otmoor Year
15th June 2015
At June’s meeting we were joined by Peter Barker, a volunteer on the Otmoor Reserve, who gave a wonderful informative and illustrative talk on the wild life and flora on Otmoor throughout the seasons. The RSPB owns the Reserve of about 1000 acres and we heard about the great variety of birds that is present throughout the year from starlings roosting in the reed beds in winter to turtle doves in summer and despite the high losses of lapwings to predators, they are still one of the success stories on Otmoor. As well as the variety of birds, Peter also highlighted the many other species such as; rare butterflies, deer, dragon flies leverets that find the ideal habitat in Otmoor. We were all definitely inspired to go and visit.
The Otmoor Birding blog has lots more information and photos of the birds at Otmoor.
All change at Oxford & District!
15th April 2015
April’s meeting saw our annual AGM, celebrating all of the hard work by Sarah as our President for 2014/15. Thank you Sarah! We now welcome Ros and Moira as our new joint Presidents for the year!
We also had a buffet, but you don’t want to see pictures of us eating! So here is the lovely Sarah, Moira and Ros marking the handing over of the Presidential chain.
Getting to know you and UN World Water Day
18th March 2015
At March’s meeting we took the time to hear some of our own member’s stories. Moira told us about her time living in Uganda battling with geckos, limited electricity and living very far from the nearest town as a newlywed and for 15 years thereon! Carolyn shared her experience of being a Pets as Therapy (PAT) dog owner, providing joy and companionship to elderly residents with her lovely dog Millie who was also put to the test with a scent trail challenge on the night! Margaret shared her story of her time in picturesque Switzerland with her husband as part of the church community for students all over the world.
To close the night we marked the UN’s World Water Day (22nd March) with a quick fire quiz to help raise our awareness of water scarcity, sanitation and supply issues globally.
Meeting Mya and Ann – Pets As Therapy (PAT)
15th October 2014
We were joined in October by Ann and her very soft friend, Mya who both volunteer as a fantastic team for the charity Pets As Therapy.
Set up over 30 years ago, the charity has over 22,000 registered pets (dogs, cats and a few rabbits!) who provide theraputic visits to communities (schools, residential car homes, hospitals) to help support individuals and groups through contact with animals.
Since becoming a volunteer a year ago, Ann has managed to reach out to over 5 Oxfordshire schools helping to tackle illiteracy problems. How you might ask? Through their Dog2Read scheme!
Mya has become a celebrity within schools, she’s even had good behaviour and performance awards named in her honour! By providing an alternative outlet and setting for reading, children who struggled with literacy were able to move up to 2 reading levels over the period of 2 weeks!
Mya and Ann have also helped dog-phobic individuals tackle their fears, encouraged a resident to talk again following regular visits and provided good dog ownership guidance to children. Ann has also supported one volunteer with her dog who suffers with a disability causing shortened femur bones, to help facilitate conversations with children about disabilities, becoming a school celebrity in her own right!
A big thank you to Ann and Mya who came to speak to us, and for Carolyn who brought her own PAT volunteer, Millie with her to join us for the evening.
17th September 2014
We had a talk from Stephanie Wilde about the benefits of mindfulness to help relieve anxiety, depression, everyday stresses as well as taking more time to appreciate things we may take for granted.
For many of us it was our first venture into mindfulness, and not knowing what to expect we decided to take the plunge and were guided through a few exercises by Stephanie, our lovely Traute’s daughter who has found mindfulness a great source of support and calm.
We started with a simple breathing exercise and moved on to lesson one – the raisin. Some of us can’t stand raisins, while others can’t get enough of them, so exploring all of the textures, smells and taste of our raisins brought a completely new experience to us all!
It’s safe to say that we left September’s meeting feeling quite calm and prepared for our next day, with a new appreciation of this great form of meditation; some of us looking to explore Mindfulness more fully in future. Thank you Stephanie!
The Kori Project
16th July 2014
At July’s meeting, we heard from two of our good friend’s from SI Thames Valley Soroptimist Group, Rosie and Johanna. One of the smallest groups in the region but by no means small in their ambitions.
The London Chilterns Soroptimist Groups have been avidly knitting hats over the past few months for the Kori Project; helping keep communities warm during the cold nights in Sierra Leone, where owning clothes is a luxury not often experienced by many in the Kori Region. Rosie and Johanna came to tell us how the Kori Project is progressing, tackling Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and now constructing the first library to be built in Sierra Leone since the Civil War!
From raising money, making hand-made sanitary towels, to sending shipments of books, seeds, shovels and soft furnishings, they have been able to support a community to educate and empower women and young girls. Rosie has also helped educate women around safe birthing practices, helping to address the very high mortality rate for expectant mothers.
Their big focus for the Kori Project is to stop the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) which has been practised in Sierra Leone for many generations. Rosie, an incredible Soroptimist who was born in the region, has unparalleled understanding of the superstitions and taboos associated with FGM, and has helped educate and empower both potential victims and women performing the procedures to find alternative, sustainable and secure income through farming. By giving women the tools they need, the farming communities have thrived across other villages in one of the most fertile areas in the region. Men and young boys have been engaged around the topic, and now the practice is nearly eliminated within these farming communities supported by Rosie, Johanna and the club.
From Christmas Turkeys to Weekly Essentials…
By supporting communities, families, couples and individuals, the Abingdon Emergency Food Bank has helped over 700 people and received over 9500 donations over the past year. They have provided a friendly face and a warm, safe environment for those in need. Sometimes those who find asking for help difficult or daunting, often from situations out of their control.
To donate to the Abingdon Food Bank and help them to collect the items most in need at the moment you can visit their website: Abingdon Emergency Food Bank
Take a look at our Meetings & Events page to see what’s coming up for our monthly meetings this year!
To see what topics we heard talks on, causes we’ve supported, and activities we’ve enjoyed at past monthly meetings, visit our From 1952, our Archive page.