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Girlguide Becca fundraising for World 2023 Jamboree and Liz Perry with an update from the SAHWR Refuge

SISTA Girlguide Becca Britton 9 MaySt Albans Girlguide Becca Britton came to talk to our Club on Mon 9 May – . she has been selected to attend the World Scout Jamboree in South Korea in August 2023 and is the only Guide going from St Albans. There are 1000 Guides and Scouts going from the UK out of 40,000 from all over the world.

Becca’s excellent presentation will be available to view here soon…..

Becca is 14 years old, and a young leader at the 5th St Albans Guides. The theme of the Jamboree is “Draw your dream”; it is a life changing SISTA Girlguide Becca Britton 9 MayInternational Camp for Scouts and Guides from across the whole world to come together to learn, have fun, and make friends – developing their skills and learning about different cultures. Like the Olympics, it is held every 4 years, and moves around the world. Becca says that “after 2 years of COVID, and far too much home schooling(!) …this trip will be more exciting than ever, and it will be a wonderful experience to be SISTA Girlguide Becca Britton 9 Mayaround thousands of new people after being isolated for so long! I am so excited about the opportunity to travel for three weeks without my parents and have a real adventure on the other side of the world! I will be able to learn from the experiences of others, whilst having fun and Girlguide Becca Britton with cakeschallenging myself to take part in lots of new activities.”

Becca is at the start of her fundraising journey to raise £4000 by the end of 2022. Becca brought cakes to sell to us in the coffee break – we could smell the warm scones as we walked through the door so unsurprisingly they sold well!  The Club donated £50 and her cake-sale to our Members raised a whopping £109.45 (her cakes were scrummy!). Becca was Cakes made by Girlguide Becca Brittonreally thrilled to know the event had raised a well deserved total of £159.45 🙂

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Becca’s presentation was inspiring and warm – and she answered questions with a skill way beyond her years. Becca is also a very talented baker to our delight! We are sure her future is very bright, and as Soroptimists we love to be able to support girls like her. Becca has promised to come and tell us all about her adventure when she gets back – we can’t wait!

An extra story from the evening was from Becca’s mum Karen Britton, who told us she has a “soft spot” for Soroptimists. When Karen was a teenager she received sponsorship from the Wigan Soroptimists to participate in an educational sailing project as a child from underprivileged backgrounds. Karen is now a senior manager at AECOM in St Albans.

SAHWR Liz Perry, SISTA Sarah Lichman Cheque 1700 poundsNext we heard from Liz Perry, Manager at SAHWR  providing specialist domestic abuse services in Hertfordshire – including safe accommodation, or “refuge”. Liz gave us an update.

SAHWR is now part of the “Safer Places” charity The work of SAHWR has changed over the years. SAHWR now services the wider area of St Albans, Watford, Dacorum, Three Rivers and Hertsmere and has accommodation in all areas and includes outreach services as well as refuge. The St Albans Soroptimists can’t remember how many years they have been supporting the Refuge, but suspect it is about 30! SAHWR is currently providing “safe accommodation” for 26 families fleeing abuse, including more than 50 children. The Refuge has been going through turbulent times – they had two outbreaks of COVID, and had to go through the tendering process to maintain services – leading to masses of paperwork. This has all been really tough for the staff. COVID has meant that demand for domestic abuse support services gone through the roof. Liz and some of the outreach workers are still working from home. All outreach and triple R ( recovery programme) has gone online.  Liz spoke movingly about how the children managed through COVID – some blossomed from everyone being together in the refuge all the time. She told us a story about 3 children thriving because they are in a safe place with consistent boundaries.

The service contract for “safe accommodation” for victims fleeing domestic abuse comes to end on 30th June – so all services are out to tender. Community services have not been tendered for so it may stop on the end of June, this service supports 100 families. The new contract is only for 2 years – so the time consuming tender process will have to be gone through again.

Liz was asked about the new “Domestic Abuse Act” she said that a good thing is that children are now recognised children as victims of DA in their own right. She said there are some good things in the Act but also some missed opportunities. We told Liz about work Soroptimists are doing in observing domestic abuse courts to provide data to improve the system for the victims. Liz said there is frustration in courts with perpetrators rights high in relation to access of their children. The rate of women seeing court cases through is still low because of the way victims are treated. All Refuge staff are trained Independent Domestic Violence Advisers (IDVA) & ISVA Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVA).  There is still confusion over pathways to support for DA. Liz came across a new Police Officer who didn’t know there was a Refuge in the area!

At the end we are able to present Liz with a cheque for £1700 (see pic of Liz Perry receiving the cheque from one of our “rainbow” Presidents Sarah Lichman). This money is in addition to the £1000 we raised and transferred last year. The money has come from fundraisers such as our Abbey Theatre Charity night, carol singing at St Albans Station, an online Quiz night and more! Our Members are always positive about fundraising for SAHWR because it always attracts donations because everyone knows how essential the services they offer are.

Liz said that in the main house the play room is being renovated by She said “our playroom is so special to us, it helps the children to settle, feel safe, heal and recover – and of course have lots of fun and make lots of mess!” They want to replicate this in one of their other houses  – so Liz was excited to be able to tell us that the £1700 we had raised for them will be used towards this development.

After coffee and Becca’s delicious cakes we went through Club business. This was yet another inspiring Club evening!