Four Soroptimist clubs in South Lancashire Region have each celebrated their 80th anniversary this year. That’s a total of 320 years of women-centred service by countless members of Bolton, Bootle, Crosby and Stockport clubs. Today’s club members marked this special ‘birthday’ with an afternoon tea at Haydock Park Golf Club. The event was organised by SI Bolton, and hosted by Margaret Davies, SI South Lancashire’s regional president. The party included members from the ‘mother’ clubs, SI Manchester and SI Liverpool. In the dark days before World War II women in these two pioneering clubs had spread word of Soroptimist International’s achievements and had founded these four new clubs.
South Lancashire’s Soroptimists put ‘practical action’ into practice at the recent regional meetings. Guest speaker Glyn Jones, from Practical Action spoke about the charity’s mission to empower people – especially women – in developing countries to maximise their potential. Sound familiar? This involves “inspiring people to discover and adopt ingenious, practical ways to free themselves from poverty and disadvantage”. The charity works specifically to expand solar power energy, to enhance agricultural practice, to improve water/wastewater facilities and to reduce the impact of natural disasters. Through technology – often very simple and always appropriate to each community – Practical Action aims to promote sustainable development. At a clinic in Zimbabwe, for example, a solar energy ‘farm’ produces electricity to provide lighting (for women giving birth at night) and to refrigerate medicines. Yvonne Gibbon, Regional Programme Action Officer, said, “Glyn’s descriptions of projects such as ‘Pumpkins against
SI South Lancashire’s 2018 conference was a great success. Over 130 Soroptimists from the Region and beyond enjoyed a packed programme of informative speakers and thoughtful debate. Regional President Margaret’s theme, ‘Reach Out’, encompassed local and international topics, personal well-being and institutional challenges. Hannah Flint (Stop the Traffik) gave a comprehensive update on trafficking and exploitation. An estimated 13,000 modern slavery victims are in the UK: it is ongoing and happening on our doorstep. (The Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill, had its first reading in the House of Commons just before the regional conference.) Soroptimists, she feels, should focus on raising awareness in the community, as well as making available information about helplines and support. Patricia Gatherum, Federation Ambassador for the Meru Garden Project, spoke entertainingly about her recent visit to the project in Kenya. Underlying her presentation was the positive impact that Soroptimists’ funding
Sue Black, a member of Soroptimist International St Helens, received a Grant of Friendship from the state of Victoria, Australia. This generous grant enabled her to spend time in company with local Soroptimists, finding out about their work and – no doubt – making many new friends. Sue’s visit featured in the latest edition of ‘Soroptimists Connect’, produced by the Victorian clubs. So look out for her in SI Victoria Australia newsletter Sue has written a report for the Region on her visit. Grant of Friendship report by Sue Black
Have you ever tried the ancient art of ‘sabrage’? Fifteen Soroptimists from SI Southport, and friends, tried this out on a recent club trip to Reims, in France. ‘Sabrage’ means decapitating a bottle of champagne with a sabre. The group ‘sabraged’ about 25 bottles of champagne. In true Soroptimist style not a lot was wasted, everyone making best use of the residual champagne to partner a splendid meal. The four-day tour encompassed three champagne houses, as well as the main sites in the town. Club member Beata Kowalska, who organised the whole event, said, “Our occasional club trips abroad are always good fun, and this one was no exception. We’re also very proud of our new skill. It’s not something we’ll be doing on a regular basis at our club meetings, though!”
Soroptimists from St Helens raised £275 at their International Women’s Day event. They have donated it to a special local cause, the Lilac Centre. In partnership with students from St Helens College the Soroptimists presented a cheque to the centre. The money will be used to provide complementary therapies for women undergoing chemotherapy treatment. The Lilac Centre is at St Helens Hospital. It offers a wide range of counselling and holistic therapy services to support both patients and carers.
An invitation to attend – as a Soroptimist – a meeting of the ‘1918 Club’ in Liverpool was a surprise for Dorothy Zack-Williams (President, SI Liverpool). The club is possibly the oldest continuously existing women’s club in the city. Today – as a century ago – it offers women the opportunity to meet socially and engage in contemporary issues. President Dorothy was able to tell members about the work of Soroptimist International, and was warmly welcomed. Developed by Eleanor Rathbone and Elizabeth Macadam, the luncheon club idea was set up after the 1918 Armistice. It aimed to preserve many of the friendships made through the war-period and many of the alliances forged through the suffrage campaign. Revolutionary at the time, it enabled members to form new contacts among fellow professional working women and social welfare workers. The 1918 Club still provides a common meeting ground
Widnes Soroptimists celebrated 100 years of ‘votes for women’ in the local market. Members booked the community area and set out publicity material in this busy venue. Talking to passers-by and handing out information – practical ways of promoting Soroptimist International. Ever-imaginative, the Widnes members gave out 100 cupcakes decorated with the Soroptimist logo – edible, of course. Two members even went around the market with trays of the cakes and made some good contacts at some of the stalls. From yesteryear to today – SI Widnes is a longstanding supporter of the local women’s refuge. The accommodation has recently been refurbished, enabling new arrivals to have an apartment with a kitchen and bathroom. As the women are responsible for cleaning their apartment, the Soroptimists now provide a bucket containing cleaning materials for each new client.
Soroptimists in St Helens made their mark on International Women’s Day 2018. On 8th March (the day itself) members Pam Wright and Anne Jones appeared on BBC Radio Merseyside, interviewed by Tony Snell on the breakfast programme. Heavy early morning snow didn’t deter them! They talked about Soroptimist International and about the work of SI St Helens. Two days later the club presented their Women’s Day event at St Helens Town Hall. There were 20 stalls showcasing local women’s lives and and opportunities. Women promoted their small businesses and students from St Helens College set up a beauty parlour. There was the chance to try out activities such as badminton, tai chi and bricklaying. Local organisations showed how they offer education, health, and support services to local women. Plus the Girl Guides turned out in force. The hall looked great – so many talented and
“Zoë’s Place Baby Hospice is a ‘home-from-home’ for special babies.” At the regional Programme Action meeting South Lancashire’s Soroptimists heard about this local charity from Natasha Kinsey, Corporate & Events Fundraiser. One of only 3 hospices in the UK for babies and infants aged from birth to five years, the Liverpool centre provides palliative, respite and end of life care. ‘Zoë’ means ‘gift of life’. Natasha’s range of photos gave a vivid impression of the homely, welcoming accommodation and facilities provided. The babies can experience play (and messy play!), sensory stimulation, singing and listening to music. Babies, their parents and siblings are all supported, physically and emotionally. This holistic approach acknowledges that life-limiting and life-threatening illnesses can be hard for everyone involved. The charity’s costs are extensive: annually it needs £1.6m to be able to offer free services to all the families. (There is only modest