President’s Blog

President Liz Rodgers Web

February/March 2017

This will be my final blog entry this side of our AGM on 10th April when we look forward to welcoming speakers from Brittany coming to tell us about the amazing work of SPESS in Togo.

And talking of amazing speakers, we enjoyed a super evening earlier this month in the company of Jenny Tipping, lady hgv driver extraordinaire. Not only were we impressed by Jenny’s heavy goods driving experience, we were inspired by the work she does to encourage other women in the world of heavy goods transport.

In equal measure to our thanks to Jenny, we must thank both the Broadstone Community Concert Band and Poole Lions for their support for the Purple Teardrop Campaign. The Band put on a superb concert for us to mark International Women’s Day and Poole Lions have made a Gift Aid donation, between them totalling £900. Thank you so much, you’re helping to transform the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in society.

Our ever popular Silent Auction in February raised invaluable funds for the local Dorset Leaf charity, supporting people living with leukaemia, and for SPESS. And we had a real fun evening bidding on a huge range of items from kitchenware to books and from jewellery to wine glasses. Wonderful! Socially, members have continued to enjoy Marion’s marvellous book club and we had an evening at the ballet, Swan Lake at The Lighthouse.

But of course Soroptimists’ raison d’etre is programme action work. Members have given presentations on the Purple Teardrop Campaign and human trafficking to Bournemouth Samaritans and at SI Winchester’s outstanding Transforming Lives event. We’ve worked on the Dorset Anti Slavery Partnership and we’ve attended Poole Safer Partnership’s conference on Tackling Coercive Control and Domestic Violence.

And we have our first linked member – welcome Nathalie, we hope you truly enjoy what Soroptimism can give to you and what you can give to Soroptimism. Women power in action, love it!

Winter 2016/17

As ever, Christmas came and went in a flash! It was a busy time for our members out delivering Christmas Parcels in the local community, and collecting funds for the new Dorset women’s refuge with the popular Poole Bay Rotary Club Christmas Train. Our sincere thanks to our local Rotarians for enabling Poole Soroptimists to raise these much needed monies. A couple of weeks before Christmas, members enjoyed the Winter Wonderland Walk at Kingston Lacy organised by Leaf, one of the charities that Poole Soroptimists are supporting this year. Our Christmas party was well deserved! We ate, chatted, laughed and sang lots of carols; members generously donated items that evening to AOK Rucksacks and to Poole Refuge and I busked, playing my flute to raise funds for my other charity of the year SPESS that does grassroots work to support some of the poorest communities in Togo.

And here we are at the end of January, having started 2017 with a focus on human trafficking. A representative from the Liberty Project spoke at our January meeting about the work they are doing to support the many men and women who find themselves caught up in modern day slavery. Purple Teardrop Funds help to put people on the road to recovery, sometimes it’s as simple as a pair of workboots, some English lessons or just having some new clothes of your own. The Purple Teardrop operations group has mapped out its activities for the year, the trustees have held the charity’s AGM and I represented Purple Teardrop at the recent Human Trafficking Foundation Forum to find out the latest policing initiatives being put in place to combat the traffickers. It’s going to be another busy year!

And not forgetting our volunteers who knit amazing baby clothes and blankets for vulnerable families in Nepal. We’ve also donated some to SI Thames Valley to go out to their project in Kori, Sierra Leone – new mothers are given a set of baby clothing and a blanket when they bring their babies into the village for vaccination.

Finally, as I write, Poole Soroptimists are supporting this weekend’s Poole Lions Swimathon, one of the town’s largest fund-raising events each year. Monies raised will go to local charities supported by Lions who are celebrating their 100 year anniversary. Our congratulations to the Lions movement and heartfelt thanks for their work. Yesterday, I went to cheer on the team of lads, young and not so young, who swam on behalf of Poole Soroptimists, as well as my awesome colleagues from Brittany Ferries who very sportingly turned up dressed as pirates!

November 2016

Soroptimist International Poole has had a sparkling autumn. It was a huge pleasure and privilege to welcome President Uta and 7 members from our twin club Soroptimist International Hagen for a friendship week at the beginning of October. Our clubs have been twinned for over 30 years and it was a joy to witness long-standing friendships being renewed and new friendships being made. We visited Stonehenge and Bath, Salisbury and its cathedral and Compton Acres, we knitted for Nepal together and exchanged ideas and views across the table over lunch and dinner. And equally, it was an honour to enjoy the company of the Mayor of Poole Councillor Xena Dion and Mr Bryan Dion at Poole Soroptimists’ 64th charter evening at Poole Yacht Club, along with members from SI Plymouth, our newest twin club. RNLI volunteer Anne Millman was a truly inspirational speaker as was President Uta.

In amongst the festivities, it is important to remember that we have lost former long-standing member Alderman Barbara Siberry. Barbara and myself joined the Poole Soroptimist club on the same day, having by chance met as strangers in Bournemouth a few weeks prior.Barbara is sorely missed by her Soroptimist sisters as well as by the broader communities of both Poole and Bournemouth.

We were delighted to welcome Natasha Jones and her son Joshua from the Dorset-based leukaemia support charity, Leaf, to our September meeting. Natasha touched us with her bravery and inspired us with the support her charity gives to leukaemia sufferers and their families across the county.

October brought Anti Slavery Day and prior to that Purple Teardrop Campaign’s work with mobile phone service providers. Members attended the Human Trafficking Foundation Forum and the Anti Slavery Commissioner’s First Annual Report event in London and are continuing to raise awareness of modern slavery to different sectors of society. Members have knitted for Nepal, visited the residents of Park Manor Residential Home and attended planning meetings with the Borough of Poole in the run-up to to the town’s Domestic Violence Awareness event in Poole Centre on 26th November.

July 2016

One of this year’s highlights was the Programme Action Study Day in Bristol on 9th July when Soroptimists from all over the UK came together to listen to a great line-up of speakers including Kevin Hyland, Independent  Anti-Slavery Commissioner, and to network. A really amazing, fruitful and enjoyable day.

Another highlight for me was participation in the third and final workshop on club growth, held in the Green Park Hilton Hotel in Mayfair. A great day, best practices and ideas were freely discussed and shared by the participating clubs. I was delighted to represent Poole Soroptimists and look forward to working with our executive team and wider membership on our club’s vision and plan to bring more members into the Soroptimist organisation here in Dorset.

Locally, we welcomed our Southern Region President, Ruth Healey, to our July meeting. Ruth shared her insight into our Federation’s 5 year vision and was impressed by Poole club’s projects and activities.

Poole Soroptimists marked the Soroptimist Day of Action on 20th July in the town centre. Waterstones in Falkland Square welcomed our distribution of Loves Me/Loves Me Not bookmarks to customers and passers-by.

Although we have no club meetings in August, it’s the time of year when we plan and prepare for the busy autumn period – ahead lie our September meetings, Tapas and Tiramisu Fund-Raiser, our Friendship Weekend and Charter Dinner plus Anti Slavery Day, and members will be representing SI Poole at the Southern Region AGM in Guildford and at the SI Great Britain and Ireland conference in Malta.

June 2016

President Liz Rodgers
Another action-packed month in which members raised nearly £1000:
5th June – afternoon tea event at the lovely Wimborne St Giles Village Hall in the heart of the Dorset countryside.
19th June – Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life in Poole Park.

Action lies at the centre of everything Soroptimists do, and June was no exception:
– We made more blankets and baby hats and sent them out to Nepal. Huge thanks to Winchester Soroptimists for their donation of baby hats and vests, and to Bournemouth Soroptimists for their support.
– The Purple Teardrop Campaign Operations Group met to work through plans and actions for the next quarter.
– We attended the newly formed Devon and Cornwall Modern Slavery Forum.
– Programme Action Officer Sue Fortescue went to Park Manor residential care home and gave a talk to the residents there.

We’d love more members to join us and Membership Officer Helen Kanolik organised a superb Open Evening when we welcomed 10 guests interested in finding out more about Soroptimist International. We really enjoyed meeting you ladies and hope you’re considering joining us. It really is a ‘no brainer’ for anyone wanting to belong to an international NGO that educates, enables and empowers women around the world.

Three of us had a networking day with Southern Region Soroptimists at Sparsholt College and Poole Club is very much looking forward to welcoming Southern Region President Ruth Healey to our meeting on 11th July.

And it was an honour for me as President of the Poole club to plant a camellia in the garden of Soroptimist House in Parkstone to celebrate the 90th birthday of HM Queen Elizabeth.

It really is amazing what we’ve done in the past 4 weeks!

May 2016

President Liz Rodgers
My first 6 weeks as Poole Soroptimists’ President have been non-stop! Within that 42 day frame, our club has delivered:
– Baby hats for Nepalese families still homeless after the devasting earthquake.
– Blankets for Nepalese families, due for delivery via the Gurkhas.
– A partnership agreement between the Purple Teardrop Campaign, Sheffield Soroptimists and the Snowdrop Project, with a further partnership in the pipeline.
– A £240 toilet twinning with Nepal.

Members have participated in:
– Club growth workshop in Euston.
– Southern Region Programme Action meeting in Alton
– Human Trafficking Foundation Forum in London.
– Dorset WaterAid’s Walk4Water, we raised £400 🙂

Members have enjoyed:
– Speakers at our meetings, Barbara Cox – mega inspirational entrepreneur – and Lorraine Kingsley, the remarkable CEO of Toilet Twinning.
– Supper with Belgian Soroptimists from Val Brabant.
– Book club.
– Weekend for French-speaking Soroptimists in Lyon – c’etait chouette!
– Performance by the Royal Birmingham Ballet at Poole Lighthouse.
– Broadstone Players’ production of Gaslight – the Players are donating a portion of their ticket sales revenue to our charity fund, thank you Broadstone Players!

And we’re preparing for:
– Afternoon teas fund-raiser at Wimborne St Giles Village Hall on 5th June.
– Planting a camellia in honour of the Queen’s 90th birthday on 6th June.
– Devon and Cornwall Modern Slavery Forum on 7th June
– Southern Region meeting on 11th June.
– Open evening for potential news members on 13th June.
– Cancer Research’s Race for Life on 19th June.

What can I say? Poole Soroptimists rock!!”

Spring 2016

President Elect Liz Rodgers:
Our first knitted baby hats have arrived in Nepal as part of our ongoing work in support of our Soroptimist sisters in Kathmandu; blankets and scarves will follow soon! Nepal has witnessed a tremendous spike in the number of women and girls trafficked into sexual exploitation since the earthquake and so it with even more determination that Poole Soroptimist volunteers work on the new Purple Teardrop campaign with mobile phone service providers, due to launch in April.

Our Programme Action Officer Helen Kanolik continues to lead the club’s awareness-raising work of abusive relationships and our new ‘loves me /loves me not’ are being distributed into our local community as well as further afield.

And members have raised much needed funds through working with Broadstone Players and with Poole Lions with WaterAid’s Walk4Water and Cancer Research’s Race for Life now in the pipeline.

Sadly, our friendship link club SI Newtownards has folded; but as one door closes, another opens – we look forward to twinning with SI Geelong in Australia.

As I put the finishing touches on the club’s programme for the new Soroptimist year, President Lynn’s two year stretch as club president draws to a close and we thank her for her work and wish her a well-earned break.

Come and find out more about Poole Soroptimists at our stand at Poole Library on Tuesday, 8th March, International Women’s Day!

Autumn 2015

This organisation astounds me. We are women. An incredible force for good, alone and when we get together and work towards a cause. And I’ve seen that within our club. We cannot all volunteer equal amounts of our time and sometimes we see just one person leading the way like a beacon for us to head towards, to work with and to take direction from. When one person has a vision and a desire to make a difference, then others admire and hope to help. Over the last few months I’ve seen just that. Helen Kanolik first suggested a project which we’ve called ‘Loves Me Loves Me Not’ a project that uses bookmarks with identifiers of love on one side and abuse on the other to help teach children about relationship abuse. Since that time she has driven the project forward, with help from Amanda Dawson and a few ladies in our club. Last week Helen updated us on progress and it blew me away. She has managed the design process and copy updating of the bookmarks, liaised with several very influential organisations, including Times Education Supplement, to distribute the bookmarks and packaged them with a project plan for other Soroptimist groups to pick up and implement in their locality. In my view has done an incredible job. All from one initial idea.

Our club is one of 12 within the Southern Region. Across the region we make a significant positive difference and at regional level we are in a planning stage to achieve even better results. One thing I hope we do is choose a couple of projects that all 12 clubs implement so that we can measure our positive results as a region. The ‘Loves me loves me not’ project following the project plan developed by Helen, would be a great project for this, not just regionally but nationally. It achieves excellent results and is measurable both in the number of young people we are able to help but also in the strategic partnerships that we set up. I will do my best to promote this idea to region. For more information about this project please email
With December on our doorstep we are heading into the season of goodwill. Funny how it’s a season, not an all year thing, as if goodwill is something you role out at certain times of the year. As a Soroptimist you see goodwill and dedication to helping others every time you meet, talk to, listen to or see anything to do with the organisation, no matter what time of year. In the run up to Christmas when we are thinking about finalising bits of work, or lining up the next project, purchasing presents for our loved one and planning festivities, a Soroptimist’s time is also spent raising awareness about domestic abuse and creating the UN Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, spreading the awareness that Human Trafficking  is happening in our locality and helping to educate children about the signs of abuse within relationships and the signs of grooming. Our club is also strengthening its friendship link with SI Nepal and at the time of the earthquake sent over £1000 to SI Kathmandu who were on the scene helping people before the aid agencies managed to get there. Being a Soroptimist means ‘doing’. It means helping others ‘do’. It means generating results for the good of others.

June 2015

We are well in to July and I’m just posting my June blog. Remiss of me – due to being incredibly busy.

All I’ll do now is a quick run through of activity.

The risk training given by Poole Harbour Commissioner’s Safety Manager, Dave Laut, was interesting, informative and offered a very different type of club meeting. It then opened up the opportunity for a SI Poole tour of the Port –  I know our team will thoroughly enjoy this. It is scheduled for August.

The Purple Teardrop team again met with the Independent Anti Slavery Commissioner to discuss potential actions by Soroptimists. Also this month members attended the Human Trafficking Foundation Forum Meeting on Trafficking Care Standards at the Mermaid Theatre in London, the Southern England Human Trafficking Conference and a campaign meeting in SI Yeovil. Plus our Domestic Violence team attended the gardens of the ARC safe house.

Our fundraising team ran a very successful quiz night – sadly my team came last. We also attended a lovely evening of music in Weymouth –  a piano recital by Duncan Honeybourne and Katharine Lam, to raise funds for the Thomas Fowell Buxton Society – and joined in the annual civic parade plus held a get together on Baiter Park in commemoration of the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta. Following on the social theme, the book club discussed ‘I Capture the Castle’ by Dodie Smith.

We also invested in club development and training. It is increasingly important in the club and where possible we attend CVS training locally. Amber Haines our President Elect attended a course on Lottery Funding and we are eager to listen to her account of it.

This month the blog is really short – next month there might be more.

May 2015

It always amazes me how much SI Poole actually does, and when I come to write these blogs, if I don’t look back at our schedule, it is easy to miss things off.

In May we commenced the new Soroptimist year, and with our new executive committee in place we set about confirming this year’s agenda. The full list is on our meetings, fund-raisers and fellowship page so please have a look as we now have our Quay collection dates for this year and a busy schedule of activities.
Our team attended the Poole Lions Swimathon presentation evening at the beginning of the month and received a cheque for over £1000 for Purple Teardrop Campaign, our nominated charity. This money will be put to excellent use to support trafficking victims and the campaign’s activities.
We then jumped straight into the manning of our stand at Poole Harbour Boat Show. A big thank you to the team who came along in rain and shine. We met a couple of potential new Soroptimists, so fingers crossed those ladies join our merry band.
Our club meeting this month was fascinating with a very interesting talk given by Sue Arkle all about personality profiling and team dynamics. Going round the room I know a few of us felt we fitted well with the categories she highlighted. I can see us asking Sue to come back again for more.
The Purple Teardrop Campaign team has been incredibly busy as usual with campaign talks given by our newest team member, Sue Fortescue to both SI Sunderland and SI Leeds. The miles and hours our ladies put in to this project is to be commended.
The planning of our new project, Loves me Loves me not, is in full swing. Helen Kanolik and Amanda Dawson are leading the way and building an excellent foundation. Preparing a project plan for something like this takes a lot of work, so thank you ladies for all your efforts. Unfortunately we didn’t win the AVIVA funding which is a real shame, simply not enough votes, even though we’d asked all our sister clubs to vote for us, and this will have an impact on the scale of our project.
On a lighter note we’ve had some lovely fellowship and fund raising events.
SI Poole’s book club is going strong and this month ‘The House we Grew up in’ by Lisa Jewell was discussed. The book club is a very popular event. It’s nice so be able to sit, have a coffee with friends and discuss fiction and fact. Thanks to Marion for continuing to organise these events.
I believe this is the first time I’ve mentioned SI Poole’s Housing Association in my blog. May marked its AGM. It is so well organised thanks to Kate and the team and provides safe and comfortable accommodation to vulnerable adults. I’m looking forward to hearing all about it from Kate at our next club meeting.
We had more cause for celebration this month with two of our members being nominated for the Venus Business Women Awards, Helen Kanolik for Influential Woman and Lynn Butterworth for Inspirational Woman, plus the Borough of Poole awarded Lynn this year’s Community Champion Award.
We were also able to visit Montacute School following its major rebuild, and Pauline Monk was able to give them the money we’d raised for them.
Mar Godfrey organised another fabulous Broadstone Players evening and our ladies attended and thoroughly enjoyed a double bill of ‘Mental’ and ‘Night Under Canvas’. The event was a fundraiser for SI Poole, the money being donated straight to SI Kathmandu for their post earthquake work.
And towards the back of the month SI Poole enjoyed a lovely evening of fellowship at the Lighthouse Theatre watching the Birmingham Royal Ballet.

April 2015

April has been another bumper month for SI Poole with the launch of its two public defibrillator machines on Poole Quay, a lovely sunny event attended by Soroptimist VIPs Jenny Vince, SIGBI Federation President, and Jackie Theobald, Southern Region President; members of SI Poole; our partners at Poole Harbour Commissioners, Dave Laut, Safety/Security Manager and Richard Lacey, Chairman; the Mayor and Mayoress of Poole; and lots of SI Poole friends and supporters.

Almost immediately afterwards we headed up to the Salterns Harbourside Hotel for our club AGM and benefited from wonderful talks given by Jenny and Jackie on the bigger picture of Soroptimism.
This year, our club has raised and donated over £7000. Some of the cheques we awarded on the night, Gully’s Place and Chesthelp, others throughout the year. Helen gave an incredible account of our new project, Loves Me Loves Me Not, and offered the club project sheets to sign up to.
We welcomed in our new club officers and I’m pleased to say that Amanda Dawson is now Secretary; Amber Haines both Membership Officer and Vice President; and Cary Lowney Treasurer. They join Dawn Cook, Region Representative; Helen Kanolik, Programme Action Officer; Liz Rodgers, President Elect; and myself.
A social this month was a private viewing of an amazing art exhibition ‘Kathryn Thomas Original Oil Painting’. We had the whole studio to ourselves and were able to wander at leisure taking in the delights of these incredible paintings.
We also attended the Poole Lions 50th Charter Dinner at Les Bouviers Restaurant. It was a wonderful evening with President Keith entertaining us well with a long, long joke. Luckily he’d primed us so we cheered at the right time! Our congratulations to Poole Lions; it’s a great honour to partner with them for the Annual Poole Lions Swimarathon.

March 2015

Incredible is one word to describe March this year.

Our executive committee meeting marked the approvals for the defibrillator campaign, the agreement on our succession planning approach and the final arrangements for our attendance at the ‘Violence Against Women’ conference which was held at the Lighthouse in Poole that coming Thursday. It was a hard-hitting conference and on exit I felt like I’d been hit by a truck. I wrote up a précis of the day and sent it round our team.

Then on the very next day I attended an International Women’s Day breakfast hosted by Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister. A very enjoyable event and an opportunity to see the ‘middle’ road of our UK government, plus discuss very pertinent women’s issues with about 20 other local ladies. I was really pleased SI Poole was invited to this event as it showed how our profile has improved.
Then a day later we went straight into an annual fund raising event during which our team and friends swam lengths of the Dolphin Swimming Pool as part of the Poole Lions’ Annual Swimathon. It was great fun and as a thank you to my team I fed everyone a roast dinner afterwards.
The very next day was our club meeting which we dedicated to the planning of our ‘Love me love me not campaign’ and benefited from the perspectives of Laura Berry from St Edwards school who gave a very interesting presentation. We also welcomed Bobby and Tina from SI Bournemouth and Carys Brown from SI Bridgend to this meeting. It is always lovely to include our sister Soroptimists. Vikki Slade and Susan Jefferies of the Liberal Democrats also attended. The meeting was vibrant, energetic and enjoyed by all.
The meeting also saw the nominations of Amber Haines as Vice President and Membership Officer, Cary Lowney as Treasurer and Amanda Dawson as Secretary. Dawn Cook is going to be our Regional Rep. This means that as of April our executive committee will have four new Soroptimists, each will be mentored by the more experienced team members who’ll stay on the executive committee until the new team feels comfortable. We’ve been through a lot of changes in our last year, but I feel this next year coming will see even more.
Helen Kanolik is hop along at the moment having just had a hip replacement operation. I’ve been thinking of all sorts of jokes i can tell her when I go to see her next week but I can only think of very lame, non funny jokes. She is doing well and is exercising everyday, but it can’t be fun and we wish her a speedy recovery and to come back to us asap.
Our defibrillator campaign hit a snag in early March when SWAS would not be flexible on their leasing policy which insists that every four years the defibs have to be renewed, and this would mean we’d have had to raise the money all over again. Luckily I identified another supplier – one SWAS recommends – and it is full steam ahead on time for our scheduled launch date of 13th April. To be fair to SWAS, their team had changed and the person with whom I had been in negotiation left the company without leaving them any notes about our project.  Poole Harbour Commissioners have been fantastic and stepped into the breach  taking ownership and maintenance of the defibrillators once installed. And, luckily for us they are also arranging all the signage which will look excellent as it has been designed by our very own incredibly talented designer, Chris Rodgers.
March also held our regional meeting during which we let our sister Soroptimists know of our forthcoming visit by Jenny Vince, SIGBI Federation President, and now Jackie Theobald, Regional President will  be attending too.

February 2015

At our club meeting last night we had a detailed account of all the work implemented in our two main programme areas.

  1. ‘Loves me Loves me Not’ a multi level programme that aims to teach children about abuse, to show them what behaviours are OK and what are not and to give them advice regarding emotion education.
  1. Purple Teardrop Campaign, an innovative and far reaching programme that seeks to increase the awareness across the UK of the issue of human trafficking and to support its victims.

Both presentations were incredible and the breadth of the programmes made me immensely proud of our team.It made me stop and think of how our club is developing and of the significant contribution of our new members and how our experienced Soroptimists take the time to encourage involvement.

I’d particularly like to mention Jade Hooper who is developing an idea of hers which I am really quite excited about. I won’t say much now apart from watch this space.

The other thing I came away thinking was that we need an organogram as so much is going on; it’d be helpful to see how everything interlinks. Again, watch this space.

January 2015

January feels like a month that has flown by. In SI Poole we have some very interesting activities to be proud of. Liz Rodgers and Pauline Monk were invited to talk with Kevin Hyland, Designate Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner regarding the content of his one and three year plan to Parliament for agreement when the Modern Slavery Bill receives Royal Assent.

Liz and Pauline told him all about the Purple Teardrop anti human-trafficking campaigns with the purpose of helping him achieve his aims. For the Purple Teardrop Campaign to be recognised in such a way is a fabulous honour and testament to how influential are our ladies.

It seems a month of contribution recognition, as this week Pauline Monk also attended the national finals of the Venus Business Women’s award. Pauline has been recognised for her contribution to and positive influence over young girls. A true Soroptimist and loved dearly by all her club. We are so proud of her.
Helen Kanolik has been forging ahead with SI Poole’s programme action schedule, identifying project priorities and parameters, a lot of p’s there.. The bookmarks campaign is standing out as a prominent club project. With backing from all members we are looking into ways to take the anti abuse message to our youths. The team has already met twice and during our February meeting will outline the ideas they’ve had.
I’m progressing the Defibrillator Campaign and am looking for SI Poole to qualify for part funding from the British Heart Foundation. If we are offered any money towards our Defibrillator Campaign it will bring our launch date much closer.
January also marked a bit of a first for SI Poole. I was invited to meet with Jenny Vince, SIGBI President, which I did and thoroughly enjoyed learning more about our organisation. She suggested I put myself forward to the selection committee to attend the UN in March 2016 – which I will do and will keep my fingers crossed that I’ll be selected.
Our January meeting was fabulous. We had speakers from Out of Afrika, which sparked again the apprenticeships idea in a few us. Then our very own Dawn cook gave a very interesting presentation on health and well being and introduced her business to us.
In February, we probably won’t invite a speaker as we’ll concentrate on programme action. I think there is such a lot to discuss and many well done’s to offer.

October and November 2014

Dinner Hotel du VinOctober and November have been very busy months in the SI Poole calendar. In October we hosted our 62nd charter event with a dinner at Hotel du Vin which a whole host of people attended. It was both a celebration and a bit of a well done to us – how often do we actually reflect on all we’ve done. – plus a thank you to our supporters and partners. The Mayor and Mayoress of Poole attended as did our colleagues from the charities we support, other voluntary service organisations, sister Soroptimists and our partners at Poole Harbour Commissioners and SI News.

We inducted three new members during the event bringing our total since April this year to seven, Kathryn, Amber, Lauren, Cary, Dawn, Amanda and Jade.

I’ve been very busy networking, spreading the news of SI Poole amongst our target audience of new recruits, young dynamic females and have presented at 1) Dorset Women in Business Network, 2) Women in Business Network (yes, they are different groups), 3) East Dorset Business Network, 4) Bournemouth Business Breakfast Club and 5) Poole Chamber of Commerce. Every time I go to a networking event, I talk about SI Poole and the wider Soroptimist movement and gradually the name is getting out there.

November brought our SIGBI conference which was incredible and attended by Soroptimists from across the Commonwealth. The number of beneficial projects that are run to help women from abuse and other terrible situations is humbling. With inspirational speakers and a focussed pin point of projects the conference totally consumed me. We had a very active discussion regarding the issue of associate membership and yours truly stood up to ask four key questions, sadly not fully answered by the panel. The associate membership proposal did not get enough support and did not get through.

SI Poole also jumped into the membership debate with federation and we’ve been asked to share our business plan with a few clubs who would like to try some of the new approaches that we’ve implemented this year.

We are just over half a year into the first year of our two year business plan. Year one’s focus is on recruitment and building critical mass. Year two and beyond will focus on retention and service. As we move into December and the New Year we’ve challenged the club to put forward projects they would like to do.

Our new members have taken up critical positions of responsibility in the club and we are leaping forward, soaking up their suggestions and implementing actions as fast as possible.

We are set to re-launch the book marks projects plus increasing our partnership with our sister club, SI Bournemouth. It is onwards and upwards for SI Poole. The renewed enthusiasm is infectious as all our members seem more buoyant and wanting to drive SI Poole forward.

SI Poole’s Business Partner programme is increasing in momentum with a target of contacting 15 companies per month – which is a lot of work for Pauline and Lauren who are at the helm of this project.

And the defibrillator campaign is getting closer to its final target with a £200 donation from Poole Museum. Only another £900 ish to raise and we’ll be in a position to purchase the two defibrillator machines for Poole Quay. We’ve five months in which to do this to meet our self-imposed deadline.

September 2014

We jumped straight into activity in September, with energy in abundance, drive and enthusiasm.

Our club is getting noticed by senior Soroptimists and we’ve been asked to write all about how we’ve re-energised the club and made it the dynamic place it is. So I wrote the piece, Liz proofed it and on it was sent to appear later in the year in Soroptimists’ recruitment magazine.

And being fired up I took a huge leap and sent head office my thoughts on what we have to do to bring this fantastic organisation into the modern world and how to make it attractive to young dynamic women. My suggestion to partner with a business awards scheme was rejected. I think that’s the wrong decision and will continue to push but I can only push so far.

Our September club meeting was incredible. We are pressing for the adoption of the Modern Slavery Bill and have scheduled meetings with our local MPs to request they accept the bill and it goes through.

Our speakers were from Gully’s Place, the suite of palliative care rooms located in Poole Hospital. I looked round the room and there was not a dry eye. If only every hospital had a Gully’s Place. To raise money for them we are holding a fish & chip supper quiz night on 21 November.

In total eight guests came to the September club meeting. Four decided to join and are being inducted as soon as possible, we hope at our next meeting date which will actually be on the evening of our Charter Dinner in October. It will be amazing to welcome new members on the day we celebrate the birth of SI Poole.

September also saw our Regional AGM. Which was a pretty good event and we were all satisfied by the day. Our very own Lauren volunteered to demonstrate the RLNI Lifeboat uniform during a very interesting talk by Anne Millman. I was really proud when it came to light that the club with the highest attendance at the AGM was SI Poole.

Now, as we near October, effort is being put into increasing awareness of our Charter Dinner at Hotel du Vin. Hotel du Vin has given us an incredible deal for which we are incredibly grateful. The Mayor and Mayoress have accepted our invitation as have colleagues whom we’ve been working with on our defibrillator campaign from Poole Harbour Commissioners.

Another fantastic development this September has been the appointment of Amber as SI Poole’s welfare officer – thank you Amber – and Lauren and Pauline who have both been appointed to run the Business Partner Programme. Every opportunity I have to spend time with this fabulous team of ladies in SI Poole makes me appreciate just how dedicated they are to make Poole a better place and to help women and girls better their lives. I’m humbled.

August 2014

August is traditionally the time when we in SI Poole have a break from our Soroptimist activities and make the most of the summer, both here in Poole, and if we are lucky enough to get a holiday, away.

Although we have cut back our activity over the summer, it has not stopped as our projects need our attention; we’ve also managed a little R&R and held the most delightful summer BBQ on the beach at Sandbanks as a summer celebration.

In terms of strategic activity, we have been very busy indeed and on request from Federation wrote a piece on recruitment and how in SI Poole we have jumped into new activities which have resulted in an upward surge in membership, essentially bucking the trend experienced in other clubs.

But we did not stop there and on request again by members of the Federation Team I put together a growth document outlining a communications and campaign approach that could help SIGBI grow in the UK.

We continue in our endeavours to raise money to place defibrillators on Poole Quay and soon hope to announce some very positive news.

July 2014

The joint fellowship evening went incredibly well with members from the voluntary organisations in Poole enjoying themselves and telling each other about their club and the activities it undertakes. The general feel was that we need to collaborate more and learn from each other. And Alcatraz did us proud with the food they served. We’ve since been looking for a project that we could all do together and I’ve been liaising with the Bournemouth & Poole 14-19 Strategy Team to this end. I hope that we will be able to take forward our employability skills project and implement it across the borough, but big aspirations require careful planning and the buy-in of the various organisations involved.

DSCF2683For our club meeting this month we were very lucky to be able to get Lynda Sparks from Make it Happen, a specialist marketing company for the sustainable energy industry. Our ladies listened intently to all the advice regarding potential savings on energy consumption and to the various initiatives supported by our local council and local businesses. Dorset, its seems has quite a lot of ‘green’ initiatives.

It is always good when our club is recognised by those further up the Soroptimist organisation. This month we, SI Poole, were recognised by SIGBI for the website, and really it’s all down to Liz Rodgers, so we were able to say a big thank you to her for all her sterling effort. It is often the people behind the scenes who keep an organisation ticking on and Liz is one of our most hard working members. So we were able to say thank you with what Liz likes most…. chocolates.

Another celebration was to our very own winner of the Dorset Venus Awards, Pauline Monk. A few of us were lucky enough to attend the award ceremony so this was really for the rest of our team to be able to say well done to P. And like Liz, Pauline is one of our Soroptimist heroes.

scan0001Which brings me to Juanita. How many 82 year olds do you know who still waterski? Juanita has jumped into the ‘Miles for Hope’ fundraising campaign and pledged that by September she will water ski 12 miles. A challenge for anyone. but when you are 82!! I ask everyone to support her and pledge some cash. Juanita is also our longest serving Soroptimist – she actually joined Soroptimist International in the year I was born, and I’m well over 40.
And from our longest serving to our newest. It was with great pleasure that we welcomed Amber Haines to SI Poole. Amber along with Kathryn Darcy whom we welcomed in May will make fabulous Soroptimists.

June 2014

DSCF2465June has been a flurry of activity with hardly a time to draw breath. I can normally highlight one main activity as the activity of the month but there are so many highlights this June that I don’t know where to start. Our Purple Teardrop Campaign has been spreading the message from Exeter to Swanage to Southampton. Each presentation leads to more partnerships and more actions for the team. We supported Pauline Monk at the Venus Awards 2014 and were delighted when she won the Influential Woman category – well deserved I must say. It was a glamorous evening at The Lighthouse in Poole and a rare occasion for us to wear our posh frocks.

On the 7 June, our Positive Women team held a fabulous coffee morning which raised over £300. I went away with a couple of delicious cakes – our ladies can bake!! Then Montacute School gave us a very informative presentation at our club meeting on Monday 9 June and we’ve now decided to support them by donating our Broadstone Players charity night takings – scheduled for 20 November.

Liz and I ventured to Excel, London for the conference and panel discussion regarding Modern Day Slavery hosted by the Home Secretary, the Rt Hon Theresa May MP. The discussion was enlightening, in a shocking way. We went to the Soroptimist stand and met up with our sister Soroptimists Kate Moore, Jackie Paling and Pat Black.

DSCF2469June also saw the Southern England regional meeting during which we learned about Jackie Paling’s work in Afghanistan, and had an opportunity to debate Soroptimist policy; it was actually the most interesting regional meeting I’ve been to.

This weekend we’ll be running in the Race for Life in Poole Park, and on Thursday 26 June we’ve our joint fellowship evening, I’m feeling nervous about this as the uptake isn’t as high as I was expecting, still we have a few more days so hopefully we’ll get some more takers. We’ve the Contact the Elderly tea party on Sunday 29 June and Pauline will be up at the Human Trafficking Foundation forum on 30 June. Being a Soroptimist is certainly a full time occupation.

May 2014

Pauline Monk finalist in 3 categories venus awards 2014 photo2 webMay has started amazingly well for SI Poole with the Dorset Venus Awards announcement of their list of finalists. Our very own Pauline Monk has got through to the finals of all three categories we put her forward for. Lifetime Achievement, Inspirational Woman and Influential Woman. Well done Pauline! Fingers crossed between now and the results dinner in June.

We had a fabulous meeting on the 14th. Caroline Foster, 14 – 19 age group Educational Strategist for Bournemouth and Poole, gave us the most stimulating talk all about the education situation in the UK and our preparedness for the changing employment market. One forecast particularly sparked red flags with me and that’s that the top ten jobs now weren’t here ten years ago, and the top ten jobs in ten years’ time have not yet been created. The world is moving so fast but is our education system keeping up? Are our children being trained for the future workplace?? I don’t wish to get into a political debate in this blog but it really is food for thought. And that leads me to our education project. In view of this talk we are reviewing what we initially planned, so again, please watch this space.

DSCF2295Liz and I spent a lovely Sunday walking from Studland to Swanage. The section between Studland and the Banks Arms is so incredibly picturesque, I’d recommend all those who like walking to walk it. The walk was in aid of WaterAid, and will be in our club calendar again in 2016.

Thanks to Liz’s son Chris, we are being brought into the modern vibe with a redesign of our club directory, a logo for our ‘SI Poole Defibrillator Appeal’, clever bits on our website and the sharpening up of the flyer we’ve written for this month’s ‘SI Poole Defibrillator Appeal’ collection on 27 May on Poole Quay. Our lovely Barbara is sorting out our collections license and Jane is ordering collection buckets and all the additions we need to comply with regulations.

Marion hosted another very successful book club with an incredibly informed discussion over coffee and cakes. It’s good to see we have a mix of work and play in our club.

Preparations for the first joint Fellowship Evening of SI Poole, Rotary, Lions, Inner Wheel and WI are underway. We’ve negotiated the date, menu and costs with our chosen restaurant, Alcatraz on Poole High Street, booked everything and invitations have gone out to the various local clubs and our own lovely ladies. The date we’ve selected is 26 June.

April 2014

April has been an incredibly busy month for SI Poole. At the beginning of April we kicked off our Employability project with a round table discussion followed by some research into employability skills. The round table highlighted a need for careers guidance locally.

Linking with our local Rotary club, we’ve put together a plan for a careers day bringing in experts from industry and local business professionals so that the students can spend time with each professional in a ‘fun’ speed interview situation. This is ongoing so as it develops I will write more.

Our next big thing was to add more content to our web site; please have a look at our meetings, fund-raisers and fellowship calendar and let us know what you think. We’ll be updating our website regularly so please keep popping back to have a look.

President Lynn planting poppy seeds webWe have also thrown ourselves into community projects this month with three environmental projects, one in remembrance of WWI where we sowed poppy seeds in the garden of our housing association property,  another which involved us digging holes and planting native trees in Poole Park to form a native hedgerow, and a third to assist in the Dorset Wildlife Trust beach clean at Worbarrow Bay.

Our Purple Teardrops team have been busily working with the Borough of Poole and Churchill Contract Services to put posters on the back of public toilet doors to try to reach potential victims of trafficking. This awareness campaign could reach the victims in one of the only places they go alone. All these projects can be seen in the projects section.

And we held the first meeting of the new fund raising committee. We discussed how we might raise enough money to reach our targets and confirmed our plan for the year.