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What we do – Current projects

As a club, we aim to ‘make a difference’ in a variety of areas, both in the UK and overseas, principally to the lives of women and girls.  We aim to achieve this through campaigning and lobbying, as well as direct help to charities and organisations through fundraising or practical help. If practicable, we prefer to offer practical help, rather than just handing over money, though accept that it is more efficient to work with experts in a particular field of work.

Our current projects are listed below. (For some of the projects we have undertaken in the past, please see the Club Archives section).

President Pat Downing MBE chosen charities this year are International Charity Camfed and local charity Hospice in the Weald.

Hospice in the Weald

 

 

 

 

 

Hospice in the Weald provides care for individuals with a terminal illness and those important to them, in West Kent and Northern East Sussex. Care is free of charge and is provided across five services – the in-patient unit, the Cottage Hospice, Hospice Outreach Service, Hospice Day Service and Counselling and Support Services. The range of services offers a choice of care that fits in with the individual and their family, with the in-patient unit and the Cottage Hospice providing in-patient care. Alongside this care can be provided at home, in local care homes and also through outreach to local hospices. They are also in the process of developing and launching a service for children and young people, caring for children in their own homes. Services are available 24 hours a day providing physical, medical and emotional support to individuals and their families. Care is not only provided at the end-of-life and care is provided tailored to each person as an individual, to help them make decisions that are right for them and their loved ones. Find out more at their website.

Camfed International

 

 

This year SI Sevenoaks is supporting Camfed International  www.camfed.org a UK-based charity whose aims are closely aligned with those of the Soroptimists: to educate girls, empower women and enable them to step up as leaders in their communities. Since 1993 Camfed has educated over 2.6 million of the most disadvantaged girls in sub-Saharan Africa (Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe). Like the Soroptimists, Camfed believes in the power of women’s networking. Its post-school pan- African Alumnae network CAMA is now 120,000 strong and growing rapidly. The young women in CAMA are entering professions, setting up businesses, achieving positions of leadership – and they are giving back, each helping on average two other girls to go to school. SI Sevenoaks believes that working in partnership with CAMA to educate and empower girls is the most effective way to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in Africa.

 

Past President Penelope Robbins’ chosen charities 2019 -2021 were International Charity CAMFED and local Sevenoaks charity Arts without Boundaries. We held various fundraising events throughout the years in support of these important and vital charities.

Arts Without Boundaries

’ Vision is for a world where disabled people participate fully in society and are recognised for their talents and diversity. Building on the inclusive model of the award-winning Band Without Boundaries we will continue to work collaboratively with disabled people, the community, public services and the arts sector to break down barriers to participation, promote equality and increase opportunities for disabled people to engage with the arts. By delivering projects and performances AwB will develop positive perceptions about disability and strengthen communities’  https://www.facebook.com/artswithoutboundaries.org.uk/

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”.

SI Sevenoaks Garden Project 2018 to date

Supporting Sevenoaks Town Council in South and South East England In Bloom competition and RHS Community Awards Competition   [ formerly Britain In Bloom]

UN sustainability development goals:   Goal 3 good health and wellbeing.  Goal four quality education.  Goal 11 sustainable cities and communities.  Goal 13 climate action. Goal17. partnerships to achieve  the goal.

In May 2018 a club member saw a note on a Sevenoaks Vine Park gate seeking support from gardening volunteers for Sevenoaks Town Council’s entries in the In Bloom competitions. Eight club members responded with enthusiasm.  These members, whose total age is 586 years, remain totally committed to the gardening and willing to continue as long as they can. The town council is delighted with this response.

Open Spaces manager Nicholas Cave suggested the restoration of the sensory bed. This bed is now a real feature of the garden flowing with sensory plants. Its accompanying patio area faithfully weeded creating an area of real calm and reflection. These efforts helped Sevenoaks town achieve a gold medal.  Flushed with success, redesigning and restoring the herb garden incorporating a dynamic ‘S’ path in Cotswold stone was completed. It became another real feature. In 2019 and 2020 gold medals were again awarded to Sevenoaks. This success helped by members making doves of peace for the garden in commemoration of VE and VJ days. Obtaining gold medals for three years triggered Sevenoaks entry into RHS Community Awards competition in the towns’ category. This competition is currently judged virtually.

2021 saw great activity preparing for two competitions.  Gardening members increased their hours to enable a third area to be adopted already planted with rhododendrons and azaleas donated by a local garden centre. It needed TLC!  Huge help was given by the town gardeners so in true partnership,  the Reuthes  garden is now restored to former glory.

Judging took place in July with the club’s Programme Action officer speaking to the judge raising the Soroptimist profile stressing the benefits of open spaces for all sections of the community promoting inclusivity needed for sustainable cities and communities. Families educating their children on edible plants and the natural world, dementia and mental health sufferers, office workers de stressing in their lunch hours are the beneficiaries, to name a few.  The feedback from the footfall has been incredible. Lots of questions asked about Soroptimism and so many compliments and thanks as the beauty of the garden has been a life line for so many.

Imagine the club’s excitement when Sevenoaks Town in 2021 not only was awarded a gold medal for the Vine garden but judged as the winner in the Park category for the whole of SSE England In Bloom competition. SSE England covers six counties.

Service to the community, Soroptimism at its best!

The club is dedicating a tree in the Sevenoaks Vine garden for the Planting Trees for a Brilliant Future project on 21 October 2021.

Isobel Groves, Programme Action Officer, SI Sevenoaks

 

The Vine Sensory Garden Sevenoaks Video

We are delighted that we have been working with West Kent College on the Design Volunteer Project for 4 years now. Degree student Rachel, who is also a Soroptimist member, has made this wonderful stop motion video of the Vine Sensory Garden Sevenoaks showing the gardening work that we have undertaken in collaboration with Sevenoaks Town Council Open Spaces. Please find the link below

Link to Video 

The club is knitting squares for shawls for the Hamlin Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia

http://hamlinfistulauk.org/

“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/

Loaves and Fishesa local food bank

We provide continuing support for Loaves and Fishes with regular donations of non-perishable foodstuffs and sanitary products for families within the Sevenoaks area.

 

Chosen by our past President , Sandie Higgs, we are continuing to support ‘Child Rescue’ based in Goa, India.

https://childrescue.net

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.