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’ve undertaken in the past, please see the Club Archives section).
President Penelope Robbins’ chosen charities this year are International Charity CAMFED and local Sevenoaks charity Arts without Boundaries. We are holding various fundraising events throughout the year in support of these important and vital charities.
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.
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”.
Supporting Sevenoaks Town Council in South and South East England In Bloom competition
Meeting UN sustainability development goals: Goal 3 good health and well-being. Goal 4 quality education. Goal 11 sustainable cities and communities. Goal 13 climate action. Goal 17. partnerships to achieve the goal.
In May 2018 club member Isobel Groves saw a handwritten note on one of the Sevenoaks Vine Garden gates asking for gardening volunteers to help prepare Sevenoaks Town Council’s entry in the In Bloom competition. Club members were told of this request who responded enthusiastically. Eight members expressed an interest and the town council’s parks department was delighted by this response.
The town gardener Nicholas was thrilled with the offer of help suggesting we restore the sensory bed in the Vine garden. Ideas flowed for sensory plants and the redesigning of the garden. Weekly gardening followed and by July the month of the ‘In Bloom’ judging the garden was ready for inspection. We were thrilled to receive a gold medal for our work which not only entailed pooling ideas for the garden but ‘real hard graft’ on our hands and knees weeding the surrounding patio! It was a wonderful outcome for our partnership with the town council, improving the quality of life for our community, raising awareness of climate change, educating the community on sensory plants and their benefits for better health.
Spin-off: Our members’ commitment to this project is such that we continued the project this year. We embraced the spirit of the In Bloom competition gardening monthly at the beginning of the season increasing to weekly in the run-up to In Bloom judging day. This year saw the addition of a Victorian herb garden and introduction of edible plants much to the delight of young children. The outcome was another gold medal for the Vine garden and a continuation of our gardening next year! It must be added that there are enormous benefits for us as well, health-wise, as we get plenty of fresh air, exercise and a sociable cup of coffee to follow!
Isobel Groves 1/10/2019
The Vine Sensory Garden Sevenoaks Video
We are delighted that we have been working with West Kent College on the Design Volunteer Project for 3 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
The club is knitting 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/
Loaves and Fishes – a 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.
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.