Club Members were delighted to start the new year by welcoming 2 new Members Alison Jarvis and Helen Clothier. They are pictured here l to r with Amanda Brown, Membership Officer who introduced Alison who is standing next to her, President Rita Andrews is in the centre with the Club’s mascot Sally Bear (she gets everywhere!), Helen Clothier is next to Helen Byrne on the far right who introduced her to the Club.
Helen and Alison are, like all of our Members very busy women. Helen Clothier is Vice Chair of the St Albans & Harpenden Patient Group among other things. Alison Jarvis is a senior Manager of Community Central St Albans – working to develop the local voluntary sector.
We have a short informal induction ceremony in which the new Member, and all Club Members present, pledge their duty to the Club, the organisation and to each other. We hope that Alison and Helen will enjoy being part of this active Soroptimist Club.
During the meeting we had an update from our Member Pamela Rochford who is the Club’s link with StAR St Albans for Refugees (now a registered charity). Pamela volunteers to spend a few hours a week with one of the families who have been housed in the area to help them settle in. She spoke clearly about the huge challenges involved – particularly with cultural and language difficulties. The children are of cause traumatised following their experience of war and now finding themselves in a very strange country. A recent bright light has been a sewing machine donated by one of our Members to the Mother who is an excellent seamstress so we are hoping this will make quite a difference to her life.
We were thrilled to be able to make donations to the St Albans and Hertsmere and the Welwyn Hatfield women’s refuges. Liz from SAHWR is pictured on the left with a cheque for £2050 and Dee from WHWR is on the right with a cheque for £1050 (less because we haven’t been supporting them for a full year yet). President Rita Andrews is in the centre handing over the cheques with Sally Bear the Club’s mascot on her shoulder (you see she does get everywhere!). They were both extremely grateful for the money in light of funding cuts from Herts County Council – and also for the tea and coffee that our Members donate to the Refuges. Liz said “when we don’t know what to do (to help a client), we put the kettle on”. Both the Refuges are now being run by Safer Places following the Council’s tendering process last year and are now at least able to look forward with more certainty than before.
Liz gave an emotional presentation of the plight of the SAHWR. Since last year they have had to find new premises and also now have a broader remit of community services to Dacorum, St Albans, Hertsmere, Watford and Three Rivers – she laughed and said they will need a new name!
Dee reported that things at WHWR had been more stable. They provide accommodation for 10 families in a safe house. They receive funding from Welwyn Hatfield Council for domestic abuse outreach services.
Another busy Club meeting – leaving everyone raring to go in 2018!