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Women Offenders – Why Bother?

Women Offenders – Why Bother?

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“Why do we bother with women offenders?” Tony Lloyd, Police and Crime Commissioner for Greater Manchester, posed this question to Soroptimists at SI South Lancashire’s summer Programme Action meeting. Women as mothers, but in prison – their children may be put in care (and may remain there long after the offender is released). Women as tenants, but in prison – they may lose their home. Women in the Criminal Justice System are frequently victims (through abuse, addiction, debt, etc) therefore dealing with mental health issues is key to any support that can be offered. But the provision of effective mental health services is patchy. Tony explained that Greater Manchester is trying to give the Courts a choice, a credible choice, when it comes to sentencing women to short prison sentences of up to 3 months. Instead, women can be given community-based punishments. So far women’s centres have

Soroptimists listen to Vital Voices

Soroptimists listen to Vital Voices

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Fifty Soroptimists from South Lancashire Region attended the conference organised by neighbours, SI North West England & Isle of Man (NWE&IoM) in Preston. The theme was ‘Vital Voices: Women Leading Change’. Margaret Emsley, Federation President Elect, a member of SI Ashton under Lyne, and a civil engineer, set the tone for the day. Her overview of women in STEM industries (science, technology, engineering, maths) illustrated the gender gap and the barriers women face. However, she also showed how nationwide initiatives are enabling women to make their mark and effect meaningful change in this challenging area. Frank Field MP outlined his part in the development of the Modern Slavery Bill, which is now on the statute books. He suggested ways in which Soroptimist International’s campaigning work could aid the Act’s effectiveness. Judge Pamela Badley looked at the current position of women offenders, at sentencing guidelines, and

International President Ann in South Lancashire

International President Ann in South Lancashire

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Soroptimists from all over South Lancashire Region gathered to celebrate SI Warrington’s 70th anniversary and to hear from International President Ann Garvie. The International President did not mince her words in relation to the challenge facing Soroptimist International and all who work on behalf of women. Trafficking is the greatest global threat facing women and girls. According to the United Nations, more money is generated from trafficking than from drugs. One ‘hit’ from an illegal substance, and it’s gone: yet how many times can a woman or girl be ‘used’? Trafficking is happening now, in every community. No wonder, therefore, that International President Ann and her delegation placed this at the forefront of presentations to the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women, 2015. Our International President also commented on the service carried out by Soroptimists throughout South Lancashire’s history: a total of 1,130 years, she

From Archives to Africa, via Paddington

From Archives to Africa, via Paddington

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Liz Archer, Archivist for Soroptimist International Great Britain and Ireland (SIGBI), was the guest speaker at SI South Lancashire’s Programme Action meeting in March. The Federation’s archives are housed in Manchester. They include copies of ‘The British Soroptimist’ from 1930 (when there were seven UK clubs), press cuttings, photographs and, of course, the proceedings of the Federation itself. Region and club records are not in SIGBI’s care. Therefore Liz urged everyone to keep minutes, annual accounts, reports and membership records. Printed paper copies are vital: as technology changes it becomes impossible to access old digital formats. Documents should be housed in a record office (or local history unit) – not in a member’s garage or attic! Photos, too, have longevity in printed form, especially in monochrome, as colours degrade. It is essential to give details of dates, names, places, etc. – and not to store photos in sticky-back-plastic albums. Liz has compiled

Soroptimists, Poppies and Snowdrops

Soroptimists, Poppies and Snowdrops

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Poppies and snowdrops feature in successful Programme Action projects carried out by Soroptimists in three of South Lancashire’s clubs. Soroptimists in St Helens recruited 10 nimble-fingered volunteers to help produce hand knitted red woollen poppies in aid of the Royal British Legion (RBL). Alison Tickle (Joint Chair of Programme Action) said, “Our club members wanted to mark the 100th anniversary of World War 1 in a very special way. We raised a fabulous £4,880 and presented the cheque to Dame Lorna Muirhead, who is Patron of the RBL in Merseyside, at a tribute evening.” Her PAC colleague, Sue Black added, “Special guest at the tribute event was Andy Reid of St Helens. Seriously injured in Afghanistan, he has first hand experience of the RBL’s emotional and financial support. We were delighted, too, that the Sea Cadets of TS Scimitar spoke about their visit to Normandy for the

Presidents’ Chain Gangs Forge Links

Presidents’ Chain Gangs Forge Links

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Presidents, and presidents-elect, of Soroptimist clubs throughout South Lancashire Region met recently for their annual dinner. Hosted by Regional President Margaret Baker and her executive committee, this is an opportunity for the outgoing and incoming ‘chain gangs’ to get together and swap experiences. Incoming presidents can meet their opposite numbers in the Region – colleagues with whom they may be able to develop projects, share ideas and visit over the next year. Outgoing presidents, meanwhile, are able to talk about the highs and lows of their year – what taking on the office of president has meant to them – and maybe what plans they have for the future. Pat Williams, Regional Membership Officer, said, “This was, as ever, a very enjoyable occasion. All the presidents really appreciate the chance to meet up. For some, the ‘chain gang’ links will become long-lasting friendships.”          

Soroptimist President on Top of the World

Soroptimist President on Top of the World

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Regional President Margaret Baker has travelled to India and Nepal to meet Soroptimists in those countries and to catch up on her own club’s project. Firstly she accompanied Federation Vice President Ann Hodgson to Chennai where Shreelatha Narayanan was installed as the new President of the National Association of SI India. Over the next two days Margaret and Ann heard of the many and varied superb Soroptimist projects going on across India. They visited one project which helps burns survivors of domestic violence and met some of the women who are supported. It was a very disturbing experience but also very moving to see how this project is helping the women come through the most appalling injuries and rebuild their lives. In Nepal President Margaret was able to meet all five girls supported by her club, SI Bolton, at their two schools. “They are all

‘Flex and Flourish’ at Soroptimist Workshop

‘Flex and Flourish’ at Soroptimist Workshop

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South Lancashire’s recent membership workshop ‘Flexible Options for Club Management’ attracted nearly 30 Soroptimists from all over the Region. The main topic of the day was the new flexible structure that is now available for clubs, if members choose. Our Federation has removed much bureaucracy in order to encourage autonomy for clubs and to foster viable executive teams. Flexibility should take pressure off club officers, and enable all members to focus more effectively on Programme Action. The whole issue encouraged animated discussion, the pros and cons of this option being enthusiastically and thoroughly debated. The base of this revised structure is a bare minimum of roles, but this is not compulsory – clubs may be willing and able to share out functions to a wider circle of members. Ultimately, whatever works for each individual club is the right choice. Delegates were generally in favour of having the

Santa’s Little Helper

Santa’s Little Helper

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Father Christmas recently gained an extra Soroptimist helper. Victoria Smerdon (Immediate Past President, South Lancashire Region) donned her reindeer ‘onesie’ to join members of SI Crosby for the annual Santa float street collection. Victoria – a member of SI Widnes – said, “I’ve always wanted to help with a Christmas event like this. Plus, our Regional President, Margaret Baker, has urged us this year to ‘get out of our clubs’. So I though this would be an ideal opportunity to tick both boxes. “It was a cold, wet night, but my reindeer outfit was reasonably draught-proof. I had my Soroptimist umbrella, too – and SI Crosby’s yellow tabard was a bonus. “I enjoyed calling at local residents’ doors, seeing the delight on children’s faces as they spotted Santa on his sleigh, and feeling my collecting tin get heavier as the evening progressed.” Pam McKee (President, SI Crosby) added,

Violence Against Women in Spotlight

Violence Against Women in Spotlight

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Soroptimists in South Lancashire Region focussed on violence against women at their autumn Programme Action Meeting.  Guest speaker Kate Brade, of SI Stafford, began by describing her club’s modest awareness-raising vigil in the town centre. In partnership with their local women’s aid organisation, her members then drew up a petition: ‘I call on Government to ensure that perpetrators of violence against women are brought to justice’. The petition attracted over 4,200 signatures; Kate and fellow members delivered it to 10 Downing Street. The project, which involved SI Stafford liaising with local MPs, attracted considerable publicity – both for the broad topic of violence against women and for Soroptimist International. Club members are continuing to monitor the situation and follow developments within the Government’s programme. Locally they have linked this year with a local football team, to make the point that awareness-raising among men is essential. This is