West Kent College Design Volunteer Project
We are so pleased that we have been working with West Kent College – Sancha De Burca Lecturer in Art and Design Creative Studies and Care Industries explains more about the project below:-
Undergraduates studying the University of Kent’s graphic design programmes at West Kent College participate in a project called Design Volunteers. The project places second-year students as freelance designers to work for seven months with local charities and not-for-profit organisations. These partnerships help the organisations by providing bespoke designs, ranging from leaflets to full re-branding while giving the students valuable work experience and a chance to develop their professional and client-relationship skills. The project has been running now for five years, supporting charities dealing with a range of issues, such as mental health, pet rescue, residents associations, food banks, children’s homes or nurseries and education. For four of those years, a student has been placed with local Soroptimists. The last three years have seen Marie, Rachel and now Evie, working with the Sevenoaks branch. Founder of the Design Volunteers, Sancha de Burca, is keen to develop education that helps promote social responsibility and citizenship skills: “We are hoping our students will graduate as designers who don’t just think of creating things for unnecessary consumption – which adds to problems like climate change – but who have an empathetic and human-centred outlook that thinks designing to make peoples’ lives better is the most important aspect of the profession. The welcoming and inclusive experience our students have had with Soroptimist has been invaluable in helping their understanding of local concerns and their growth both professionally and personally”.
The club knitted squares for shawls for the Hamlin Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia
“Hamlin Fistula Hospital in Addis Ababa was founded in 1974 by 2 doctors who were alarmed by the number of women in Ethiopia, 39,000 in total, who are left with untreated birth injuries leaving them doubly incontinent and with physical impairment. These women have suffered grinding poverty with subsequent malnourishment issues which have led to stunted skeletal growth affecting the normal development of the pelvis. This means that their pregnancies can result in a very hard labour which, if there is no medical help at hand, lead to serious injuries. Incontinence means that the women have an offensive smell which causes them to be outcasts in their communities and considered unclean.
Hamlin Fistula hospital prepares a hospital discharge pack for their patients which includes knitted shawls made up of squares providing warmth at night and Soroptimist clubs around the UK have responded to this need.SI Sevenoaks has joined this response. The women are thrilled to have something of their own to wear. https://sigbi.org/sevenoaks/2019/04/24/shawls-for-hospital-in-ethiopia/
Chosen by our past President , Sandie Higgs, we are continuing to support ‘Child Rescue’ based in Goa, India.
The El Shaddai Charitable Trust Ltd. makes grants to fund the work of El Shaddai Street Child Rescue in Goa, India. The Goan Charity provides Homes, Day Care/Night Shelters, Education, Feeding Programmes and Medical Care to children working and living on the streets or in the slums in India. We have had a fascinating talk with the founder of the charity.
One of our members, Jane, has been a supporter of this charity for some time and regularly visits the project to provide practical help. She is able to take with her much-needed items such as colouring materials and books for the younger children, and cosmetics for use by some of the older girls, who are being trained as beauticians.
We have also held two fund-raising lunches for El Shaddai Child Rescue.
Past LOCAL projects include:
- Supporting the Sevenoaks Women’s Refuge, Cornfield House, by collecting goods for the women, funding counselling, providing garden furniture for the Refuge etc. ,
- Supporting DAVSS (Domestic Abuse Volunteer Support Services) which offers support for women and men experiencing domestic violence, with a view to averting crises.
- Starter Packs – supporting a West Kent Housing charity by giving donations to needy people to help set up homes
- Supporting the Rockdale Appeal to build a new care home for the elderly. Most recently we provided a garden bench for the newly landscaped grounds.
- Setting up the Sevenoaks Fairtrade Network, achieving Fairtrade Town Status for the town in 2005 and working to maintain .this over more than 10 years
- Organising a Fairtrade tea and entertainment for Rockdale residents
- Supporting the ‘Reducing Women’s Imprisonment’ project by researching what facilities there are for women offenders
- Hi Kent – a charity for the deaf and hard of hearing. We supported this local charity, which provides advice, information and useful equipment to assist deaf and hard of hearing people overcome problems associated with hearing loss. We raised money for Hi Kent at our 2016 Charity Quiz evening. https://hikent.org.uk/
Soroptimism has great international appeal and some of our past activities with OVERSEAS organisations include:
- Raising money for Mary’s Meals – a charity whose main focus is to attract hungry children to the classroom by providing a daily meal at school.
- Collecting and filling 100 backpacks with school essentials for the Mary’s Meals programme in Malawi.
- Welcoming a visitor from Moldova on a Grant of Friendship visit to our Region (South East England)
- Maintaining a long standing friendship with Soroptimists in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and supporting their project work – most recently building of wells and toilet facilities, but previously supplying a mobile dental unit for use in schools on the outskirts of Freetown.
- Supporting SIGBI’s the BIG (Birthing in the Gambia)Project by raising funds at our Swap for Spring.