A Widnes Soroptimist ‘saved the day’ when the speaker for a recent Regional Programme Action meeting had to pull out at the last minute. Denise Parker lectures in mental health at Liverpool John Moores University. Taking the theme ‘living well with dementia’, Denise spoke about the importance of keeping connected with a ‘normal’ life. There may be no cure for dementia, but people living with the condition can make the most of non-pharmacological interventions such as exercise, mental stimulation and nutrition. Denise was involved with the ‘Innovate Dementia’ 3-year pan-European project. This focussed on the day-to-day challenges of living with dementia such as perceptual problems of depth and width or colour/contrast. Appropriate changes to street signage, flooring, crockery and table coverings, for example, can make all the difference, enabling the person to maintain a successful home life. Later, at the Soroptimists’ Council meeting, Region President
Soroptimists in the Leigh and Wigan area joined forces to raise funds for the Meru Women’s Garden Project. Forty members of the two clubs snapped up bargains from the home-grown plants, herbs and vegetables on sale; they also enjoyed a vegetarian-themed buffet supper. Guest speaker was Pam Warhurst CBE, who hails from the Leigh area, but now lives in Todmorden, West Yorkshire. On the basis that ‘from small acorns, large oak trees grow’ Pam described her project ‘Incredible Edible’. Members of the local community have planted vegetables and fruit trees in many public spaces throughout Todmorden. These include land around health centres and police stations, as well as derelict areas. This project benefits the whole community. It is hoped that the food grown by individuals can become part of an economic enterprise selling items in local markets. In addition, it might encourage schools to undertake
South Lancashire’s Soroptimists took an active part in the recent forum ‘Modern Slavery: Protecting Vulnerable People’, in Manchester. It was a multi-faith, multi-agency public event aiming to raise awareness of modern slavery and human trafficking in Greater Manchester. Nearly 200 public and professional attendees heard about support services, employment opportunities and partnership working. These are all major issues for potential and actual victims. Soroptimists showcased relevant examples of work carried out both in the region and nationally. Opportunities to explain about Soroptimist International produced positive enquires about membership and requests for resource materials. Clubs in the region took part in the recent survey on human trafficking and modern slavery, organised by the UK Programme Action Committee. Speakers on the subject at the Federation Conference gave the impetus for Soroptimists to play an active part. Therefore, the forum – in Manchester Cathedral – was an ideal
Soroptimists from all over South Lancashire began their new presidential year ‘with a swing’. Region President, Margaret Davies, invited members who had attended the Federation Conference in Cardiff to join her for an afternoon filled with music and song, cakes, conversation – and a little fundraising. Jacqui’s Rhythm Katz – a local seven-piece band – set the relaxed mood for the afternoon. Singers Emma and James hit the high notes with well-known standards. Colleagues from President Margaret’s own club, SI Southport, worked hard to put on a fine array of refreshments. They also set up a stall of ‘mystery bags’ to raise funds for the charity Life NoW. This local organisation, which has already featured at a South Lancashire regional meeting, aims to build a hospice for young adults in the North West. President Margaret said, “I am delighted that so many Soroptimists from across
Seventy Soroptimists from South Lancashire attended the 83rd Federation Conference of Soroptimist International, Great Britain & Ireland. Soroptimist conferences are a heady mix of concentration, information, conversation and celebration – with retail therapy, friendship and fun adding to the experience. ‘Step Up, Lead the Way’ in Cardiff 2017 was no exception. At the change of insignia event, Margaret Molyneux (SI Leigh & District) stepped down after a packed and positive year as South Lancashire’s Regional President. “It has been a pleasure, an honour and a privilege to serve the Region”, she said. Taking over the reins (and the chain) is Margaret Davies (SI Southport). Her theme for the year – ‘Reach Out’.
South Lancashire’s Soroptimists turned out in force for the Region’s new members and awards lunch. The event is an ideal opportunity for ‘newbies’ to strike up acquaintances in other clubs, and to listen to an address by a key member of the organisation. Held every two years, the event also attracts many longstanding Soroptimists. Peace, equality, justice – these are the basics of society, according to Barbara Dixon, Programme Director for Soroptimist International, GB and Ireland (SIGBI). As the keynote speaker, Barbara pulled urged club members to design projects that directly support communities, local and global. Projects must echo the principles of Soroptimist International (SI) – education, empowerment and enablement of women and girls. Barbara also reiterated the absolute necessity of reporting club projects to SIGBI and thence to SI. Our representatives at the United Nations call on the data submitted – projects are evidence
Guest speaker at SI South Lancashire’s autumn Council meeting was Di Hill, a Director without Portfolio for Soroptimist International, Great Britain & Ireland (SIGBI). Di outlined SIGBI’s ‘Vision 2021’ and the accompanying growth plan leading up to the organisation’s centenary. Long-term, the goal of Soroptimist International is ‘to be the leading organisation for today’s women’. Strong marketing and communications, focussed far-reaching project work, effective external partnership working, and efficient internal management, are the means by which SIGBI hopes to achieve its goal. Active members – existing and potential – are central to all the changes in prospect. Di’s presentation provoked a number of questions and contributions – a healthy response to a comprehensive overview. At the morning’s Programme Action (PA) meeting, three clubs reported on recent projects: SI Crosby (STEM events for local girls), SI Stockport (refurbished police video unit interview room) and SI Wigan
Once again Soroptimists in the Leigh & District Club concluded a successful bowls season by ‘doing the double’. High-scoring members from four clubs competed for the singles trophy on finals day – Widnes, Liverpool, Leigh & District, and Crosby. In the 3-way play-off last year’s winner Gail Farrer (SI Leigh & District) faced Sandy Taylor and Yvonne Atkinson (both SI Crosby). It was nip-and-tuck throughout the game – to the delight of all the spectators. There were 37 ends before Gail was able to snap up two points for a grandstand finish. The Region’s bowls trophy is awarded to the team that, over the season, gains the most points against Soroptimist clubs in the Region. The regional president usually presents it. On finals day, however, there was the conundrum: the regional president was the winning captain! Pat Woodward (President SI Leigh & District) was therefore
South Lancashire Region held a Celebration of Soroptimist Service to recognise the diversity, talents and friendships amongst all members. The event – held in Leigh at an Anglican church – had a multi-faith focus. Three Soroptimist ministers from different churches led the service, and members from the Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu faiths gave poignant readings. Almost all the clubs in the Region had at least one member in a participatory role. Diane Mackley (SI Southport) sang Cherubino’s aria ‘Voi Che Sapete’ from Mozart’s opera The Marriage of Figaro; and Eunice Woof (SI Bootle) led a small Soroptimist vocal group to sing the aptly-titled ‘I am a small part of the world’. A collection was taken, part of which will be donated to the Federation’s Meru Women’s Garden Project. Afternoon tea was served by members of SI Leigh & District at the end of the service.
“Our mission is to inspire and empower girls …” Does that sound familiar? That is the mission of The Girls’ Network, a very young UK charity. As Soroptimists we, too, have similar aspirations. Therefore, the guest speaker at the recent Regional Programme Action Meeting, Hayley Misell (Network Manager – Manchester), had a keen-eared audience. The Network addresses the needs of girls who just ‘coast’ along. For so many in the least-advantaged communities there is a gap between girls’ dreams and their expectations. Many of them do not have the self-belief necessary to make the best use of their capabilities. For one year girls are each linked with a mentor, a professional career woman who acts as a positive female role model. This ongoing relationship helps the girls develop in confidence. It opens their eyes to the possibilities – and opportunities – available to them. They