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Count Us in Campaign
Mon 27 Sep Zoom 7.30pm – Step Up to COP26 Whilst Stepping Down Carbon Footprints

Mon 27 Sep Zoom 7.30pm – Step Up to COP26 Whilst Stepping Down Carbon Footprints

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On Mon 27 Sep  Zoom 7.30pm to 9pm Soroptimist International St Albans and District invite you to “Step Up to COP26  Whilst Stepping Down Carbon Footprints”. Book now on  Eventbrite – please click on this link: www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/step-up-to-cop26-whilst-stepping-down-carbon-footprints-tickets-170144232981 On booking you will be asked if you would like to make a voluntary donation to Friends of the Earth, there is no pressure to do this but any donations will be gratefully received. Learn and share what COP26 is and what role it could and should play in helping women reduce their own, their community and the planet’s carbon emissions.  Led by our Member and Carbon Literacy Trainer Linda Shall this Zoom session is open to all women and aims to build knowledge of the current environmental challenge, the need for Britain to step up to lead through COP26 and engaging with the Count Us In campaign www.count-us-in.org

Club Meets at Last – Centenary Candles, New Member and Pot Luck Supper

Club Meets at Last – Centenary Candles, New Member and Pot Luck Supper

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On Monday 20 Sep 2021 Members of Soroptimist International St Albans and District held a face-to-face Club meeting for the first time since February 2020. Because Members hadn’t seen each other for such a long time the Club decided to make it more of a social event with lots of time for people to catch up with one another. To mark 100 years of Soroptimist International there was a candle lighting ceremony. The Club was also delighted to be able to welcome new Member Nicky Bloom. President Barbara Saunders OBE welcomed everyone and Debbie Tankard read the vision and mission.   Candle Ceremony – words spoken by President Barbara  “Tonight, we are lighting candles in celebration of the achievements of Soroptimists Worldwide during the past 100 years. Thousands of other clubs will be starting their ceremonies on 21st September, the United Nations International Day of

Private Lives Charity Night
Thu 4 Nov 8pm Private Lives by Noel Coward – Abbey Theatre Charity Night

Thu 4 Nov 8pm Private Lives by Noel Coward – Abbey Theatre Charity Night

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Soroptimist International St Albans and District Presents “Private Lives” by Noel Coward Thu 4 Nov 8pm  The play will be produced by the Company of Ten and is on the Main Stage. Tickets are £13 in aid of our local women’s refuge service SAHWR, plus other charities supported by the Club. Please email sistalbans@hotmail.com to book your electronic ticket. You can download the flyer here: Flyer Abbey Theatre Charity Night Nov 2021 Final Synopsis Amanda and Elyot are newly-weds – although not to each other, on this occasion. The recently divorced couple find themselves honeymooning in adjoining suites at the same hotel with their new spouses. Before long, their passionate relationship is rekindled. But can this volatile pair ever find a way to make a success of marriage to each other? And how will their new partners deal with this potentially explosive situation? This sparkling,

Soroptimist St Albans Museum Orange the World for 16 Days of Activism
Orange The World Nov 25 – Dec 10 to End Gender Based Violence

Orange The World Nov 25 – Dec 10 to End Gender Based Violence

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Join St Albans & District Soroptimists to Orange the world! We need your help to turn St Albans and neighbouring towns and villages orange  to raise awareness of gender-based violence and domestic abuse in Hertfordshire. Between 25 November – 10 December 2021, buildings all over the world will be lighting up Orange in solidarity with the UN campaign to ‘Orange the World’, raising awareness of 16 Days of Activism against Gender-base Violence. The colour orange is used to show solidarity with the movement to end violence against women and girls around the world. Soroptimist International St Albans and District, the local branch of the global women’s organisation, is reaching out to local Hertfordshire organisations to encourage as many buildings as possible across the county to join the campaign and light up ‘Orange’. We started this in 2020 when the wonderful and pioneering St. Albans museum

St Albans Soroptimist Celebrate 100 Years with 100 Laps of the Lake

St Albans Soroptimist Celebrate 100 Years with 100 Laps of the Lake

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On Saturday 7 Aug Soroptimist International St Albans and District women’s group and supporters set themselves the goal of walking 100 laps of the lake in Verulamium Park to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Soroptimist International #100for100 They actually did 147 laps between them and earned a slice of celebration cake at the end before the rain set in! The photos give you a glimpse of what a great day it was. One of our Members, Louise Marron, had to self-isolate due to COVID so she did laps of her garden with her “Soroptisons” – pictured here with the banner they made for the occasion – well done to Louise and her lovely boys! Louise also sent us these two lovely videos: The Soropimists took a collecting bucket (of course!) to the park and collected £75 for the SAHWR women’s refuge www.sahwr.org.uk which was a bonus because this

Shelley Hayles
Raihaanah Ahmed and Shelley Hayles are Making a Difference in St Albans

Raihaanah Ahmed and Shelley Hayles are Making a Difference in St Albans

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On Monday 26 Jul our speaker guests were Raihaanah Ahmed, who set up the Sopwell Community Trust which run community initiatives such as Eid in the Park with the aim of breaking down barriers between different communities living in St Albans, and Shelley Hayles. Shelley is a leading voice in Black Lives Matter in St Albans, a registered Social Worker, lobbying for change to the Children Act to provide more provision for Care Leavers. These two inspiring local women infomed us about their local community support and “accidental activism”. Raihaanah Ahmed Raihaanah introduced herself and told us a little of her background. She is a Muslim and Bangladeshi woman. She formed the Sopwell Community Trust. One initiative is Eid in the Park with the aim to make the event accessible to all members of the local community. Raihaanah organised a number of community events pre-Covid.

Herts Girls Cricket Bishop's Stortford Winning Team 2021
St Albans Soroptimists Proud to Award Herts Girls Cricket Trophy

St Albans Soroptimists Proud to Award Herts Girls Cricket Trophy

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Fantastic skills and commitment on display in Hertfordshire Girls Cricket Final Sun 18 July 2021 On a sun-drenched Sunday 18 July 2021 on the lovely cricket ground of Berkhamsted Cricket Club, the Girls’ Finals Day saw 3 fascinating tussles take place between the girls’ sides who had risen to the top of the Hertfordshire 2021 season. U11 Berkhamsted vs Harpenden U13 Redbourn vs Harpenden U15 Redbourn vs Bishop’s Stortford Club Member and Regional President, Helen Byrne, attended on behalf of the Club to watch the third of the three games and present the Soroptimist Trophy to the winners in memory of Club Member and ex-England player Audrey Collins. Helen was joined by Members Jean Eaton and Madeline Skinner who enjoyed their visit, learning a little more about the fascinating game of cricket. Bishop’s Stortford U15, so far unsuccessful twice, were playing in their third final

Richard Ratcliffe and Gabriella protest
Richard Ratcliffe’s moving talk to St Albans Soroptimists about his fight to free Nazanin

Richard Ratcliffe’s moving talk to St Albans Soroptimists about his fight to free Nazanin

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Sixty people were moved beyond words by the powerful testimonial of Richard Ratcliffe about his campaign to #FreeNazanin On 12 July Richard shared his time generously  with Members of Soroptimist International St Albans and District plus other Soroptimists and guests from around the country. We will keep you posted with any plans to engage Soroptimists in action and campaigning needed in the UK and around the world if necessary. Please sign the petition #FreeNazanin www.change.org/p/free-nazanin-ratcliffe In 2016 Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was unlawfully detained in Tehran while taking daughter Gabriella to see her family, after widely refuted allegations were made against her by Iranian authorities. Nazanin’s husband Richard has been fighting continuously throughout this time to free his wife and bring her home, having not seen her in person since the arrest. Please continue reading for a summary of Richard’s heart-rending narrative.  Louise Marron (pictured left) introduced

Shell Memories
Thought provoking fun evening – How memories are made, making the most of stuff in your home

Thought provoking fun evening – How memories are made, making the most of stuff in your home

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Wow – what a creative thought provoking and fun evening we had with Jane Fletcher from the Art of Giving Community Interest Company theartofgivingcic.com Jane informed us about the work of her company, producing and distributing motivational art for display on the walls of many hospitals, care homes, refuges – any spaces where people who are working in a community service environment need a positive boost.  Jane asked us all to think of ideas for places we could think of that would appreciate a pack – she can tailor for the receiving group. During these challenging times many of us have been sorting through ‘stuff’ in our homes and, along with the junk, we will have found some real treasures and memories. During the talk Jane showed us how to make the very most of those treasured items by sharing real life examples from herself

Helen Byrne Plastic Free July Presentation
Inspired by Carers in Herts and Plastic Free July at the June Club Meeting

Inspired by Carers in Herts and Plastic Free July at the June Club Meeting

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We had a busy and inspiring Club Meeting on the 14th June – with guest speaker Roma Mills from Carers in Herts andHelen Byrne‘s presentation  about “Plastic Free July”. Club President Barbara Saunders OBE was delighted to start the meeting by welcoming Roma Mills from Carers in Herts Roma is an old friend of the Club who works tirelessly to help those in need in of support in our community.  Roma was invited to update us on the work of the charity – particularly how it has supported carers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please click here to view Roma’s presentation  Carers in Herts Pres Soroptimist St Albans 14 Jun it is packed full of information and she also added a lot of personal insight on the night. Carers UK surveyed over 5,000 carers in April 2020 showing: 70% carers were providing an average of 10

Soroptimists Litter Pick for St Albans Sustainability Festival

Soroptimists Litter Pick for St Albans Sustainability Festival

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The St Albans Sustainability Festival – #SUSTFEST seemed to be a perfect opportunity for getting people together outdoors to join organised litter picks www.sustfest.org Soroptimist International St Albans and District Club President Barbara Saunders and Club Treasurer Sarah Lichman worked really hard and picked up loads of litter on Redbourn Lane, between Harpenden and Redbourn, on 23 May. The event was organised by Plastic Free Harpenden. During lock down and the gradual reopening of society, we have seen and heard lots of examples of people meeting up in public spaces and leaving their rubbish behind. Rubbish and waste also blows around getting caught in the trees and building up along verges detracting from the beauty of our local environment and sometimes causing injury and possible death to animals. After the litter pick Barbara said ‘The verges are very overgrown at this time of year so

Daisy Cooper MP St Albans
Daisy Cooper MP – Open Conversation with Soroptimists

Daisy Cooper MP – Open Conversation with Soroptimists

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Members of the women’s group, Soroptimist International St Albans and District welcomed Daisy Cooper MP, for St Albans and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Party on Mon 24 May. With guests there were 30 people on the Zoom call. President Barbara welcomed members and guests and guest speaker, Daisy Cooper MP. Barbara thanked Daisy for spending time with the Club and Daisy thanked the Club for their invitation. Daisy spoke about Sarah Everard’s disappearance and death. She shared the shock expressed from men about the life hacks women have had to develop to feel safer in their community. She is passionate for change and felt that the events were a watershed moment for many women to realise that they had been tolerating the climate where women don’t feel safe. Daisy stressed how important it is to encourage men to feel empowered to call out

SI St Albans President Barbara Saunders OBE
Soroptimist International St Albans and District elects a new President for 2021-22 – Barbara Saunders

Soroptimist International St Albans and District elects a new President for 2021-22 – Barbara Saunders

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Speaking at the Annual General Meeting at the start of the Club’s 64th year, Barbara said her Theme will be “Sustaining our Club and supporting our Communities”.  The Club has continued to meet monthly on Zoom throughout the pandemic and has a varied and topical programme for the year ahead. This will combine the benefits of technology and our ability to attract excellent speakers on issues of current concern particularly to women and their families. After so many months in virtual isolation for our Members, families and friends, it is also very important for people to meet, socialise and work together. We will collaborate with other community-based organisations to support practical projects which improve our local environment and contribute to our personal well-being. As we come out of lockdown, there is so much we want to do, starting with meeting in small groups, having some

SI St Albans Online AGM 2021
Club’s 1st Online AGM marks the start of the Soroptimist Centenary

Club’s 1st Online AGM marks the start of the Soroptimist Centenary

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The Club held it’s first ever online AGM on 26 April. We were able to look back on a year of great achievements in spite of the challenges of COVID-19. As well as congratulating ourselves on the past year we were excited to be looking forward to the year ahead where we will be celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Soroptimist International  and the 65th anniversary of our Club Soroptimist International St Albans and District. Normally at the meeting we have the handover of office from one President to another and this year was, of course, a little different…. Katherine (Kat) Clark ended her term of Office in April 2021 but we were unable to have an AGM due to COVID-19. The Club also didn’t have a President in place for last year – instead sharing the Presidency as a “rainbow year” with six of the

Rotary Global Sight Solutions Soroptimist St Albans
Club Meeting – learning about Global Sight Solutions

Club Meeting – learning about Global Sight Solutions

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At our Club meeting on Monday 12 April we welcomed Rotarian Fiona Miles to talk to us, via Zoom, about the Rotary Project Global Sight Solutions  The presentation materials are not provided here because all of the information is on the website www.globalsightsolutions.org please take some time to browse through and find out more about this life changing project. A brief summary of Fiona’s presentation is here: Global Sight Solutions’ mission is to provide free eye care and eye surgery to the very poor in the developing world. It is an avoidable blindness charity. It was registered with the charity commission back in the 90’s by members of Guildford Rotary Club, the aim being to work with Rotary Clubs in the developing world and together establish financially sustainable eye hospitals which can provide a full range of eye care, free to the world’s poorest. The goal

St Albans and Hertsmere Womens Refuge
Coffee, Chat and a Virtual Cheque handover – with Liz and Sara from St Albans and Hertsmere Women’s Refuge

Coffee, Chat and a Virtual Cheque handover – with Liz and Sara from St Albans and Hertsmere Women’s Refuge

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On 7 Apr Liz and Sara, Managers of the St Albans and Hertsmere Women’s Refuge SAHWR   joined us for our monthly coffee morning on Zoom. They were delighted that the Club has been able to send the Refuge £1000 from this year’s fundraising and generous donations. The Club has supported SAHWR for many years – it is a charity which provides specialist domestic abuse services in the St Albans, Hertsmere, Three Rivers, Watford and Dacorum areas. Liz told us that they use the money from our Club specifically to benefit residents. This year with home-schooling of children they were able to use the money we sent last year to buy Wi-Fi Access SIM cards for the iPads that had been provided by BBC Children in Need. The money also funded Easter egg hunts in the Refuges and gifts for the Mums from the children for

Carbon Footprint Presentation SI St Albans
How can Women lead on Reducing Carbon Footprints? Engaging Soroptimist Event

How can Women lead on Reducing Carbon Footprints? Engaging Soroptimist Event

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On Mon 22 March we had an engaging evening on Zoom – “How can Women lead on Reducing Carbon Footprints?” The event was led by Soroptimist St Albans Club Member Linda Shall who is an experienced Carbon Literacy Project trainer and a member of the Club’s “Planet Team”. The world has to reduce carbon emissions if we are to prevent irreparable damage to life on our planet: we all have a part to play in that reduction and we need to start now. During the evening we investigated climate change and how we, as women, can lead on carbon footprint reduction. The Aims and Objectives of the event are at the bottom of this piece. Everyone who registered for the event was asked to calculate their Carbon Footprint beforehand. For details of the World Wildlife Fund’s Carbon Footprint Calculator we used and other resources from the evening

International Women’s Day – Compassion and Self-Care

International Women’s Day – Compassion and Self-Care

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On International Women’s Day our Soroptimist Club included an interactive session on self-compassion and self-care – particularly important during COVID. This was led by our Member Katherine Clark, an experienced life-skills coach. In April 2020 we said that our Club we would focus on wellbeing –  “As we come through the COVID-19 crisis it is really important that we all stay as well as we can, so that we can enjoy our lives to the full when we move into the new normal… “ Almost a year later this was a timely reminder to be kind to ourselves. International Women’s Day this year had the campaign #ChooseToChallenge – our Club accepts the challenge to work for a better world for women post-COVID. The photo above was taken at the meeting to show Members’ support. www.internationalwomensday.com To remind ourselves of the International aspect of being a

Dr Margaret Ashwell and Elsie Widdowson
Elsie Widdowson – a woman who inspired action in the world of diet and health

Elsie Widdowson – a woman who inspired action in the world of diet and health

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“Elsie Widdowson- a woman who inspired action in the world of diet and health” What an interesting evening we had on Mon 22 Feb on Zoom when Dr Margaret Ashwell OBE  spoke to us about the inspirational Elsie Widdowson CH, CBE, FRS. Elsie’s work undoubtedly improved the health of our nation and saved many lives. Margaret is a public health nutritionist and she is also the biographer of Elsie Widdowson.  Margaret is pictured when Elsie received her Honorary Doctorate from University of Salford. Read more about the fascinating talk here – and click the links at the bottom of the piece to find out more… A chance encounter with Elsie Widdowson’s Secretary, Betty, on an Easter Pilgrimage to St Albans Abbey in 1991, inspired Dr Margaret Ashwell OBE to take on the mammoth task of writing down the stories about Elsie who she had known

Dianne Oxberry Trust Ovarian Cancer Symptoms
Club Meeting – Ovarian Cancer with Nicky Thompson Chair of The Dianne Oxberry Trust

Club Meeting – Ovarian Cancer with Nicky Thompson Chair of The Dianne Oxberry Trust

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On Monday 8 Feb St Albans Soroptimists and guests were  joined by Nicky Thompson Chair of The Dianne Oxberry Trust dianneoxberrytrust.org at the Club Meeting on Zoom. Nicky talked passionately about her friend, Dianne Oxberry, a well known BBC TV and Radio Broadcaster in the North West of England who died very soon after a diagnosis of ovarian cancer and in whose memory the Trust was formed. Nicky is a natural story teller who made an impression on everyone attending. Speaking from the heart and without notes she spoke of a ‘friendly, straight-talking weather presenter’ well known in the North West; a no-nonsense-woman with good judgement and a strong moral compass, who was mad about horses, dogs and life; an incredible mum and gifted broadcaster who behind the scenes was a champion of women and key driver for those lobbying for equal pay at the

New Member Louise Marron
New Member at First Meeting of the New Year and Soroptimist Centenary!

New Member at First Meeting of the New Year and Soroptimist Centenary!

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It was great to all be back together, albeit virtually, for our first Club meeting of 2021! We inducted a new Member to our Club and welcomed Regional President Helen Byrne to speak about the 100th Anniversary of Soroptimist International this year.  It was a special evening because we officially welcomed our new member, Louise Marron (pictured here), to our Club and to the worldwide Soroptimist movement. Louise enjoyed attending  Soroptimist meetings and events on Zoom last year and as a result decided to join. She works for the HCF Training and Development (HCF stands for Hertfordshire Community Foundation) and has worked with lots of the local charities that our Club supports. Louise was introduced to us by SI East London through work she was doing for one of the charities they support. Louise said “I have been looking to join an organisation like Soroptimist

Soroptimist Charity Quiz Night
Club’s First Virtual Quiz Night a Triumph!

Club’s First Virtual Quiz Night a Triumph!

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Soroptimist International St Albans & District’s First virtual quiz night was a triumph! Thanks to the generosity of everyone who attended we raised more than £700 for the St Albans & Hertsmere Women’s Refuge plus charities supported by the Club’s projects. Our Quiz masters Derek and Barbara (pictured having a well earned rest after the event) did a fantastic job and led everyone though 6 rounds of 6 questions with multiple choice answers. After each round of questions Jane (pictured here) took everyone went into the 8 Zoom “breakout rooms”, with the same people for every round to chat about the questions and answers, make new friends and catch up with old friends too. The winners were decided on a tie break. Well done and a massive thanks to everyone who took part in this fun event! It was lovely to receive the following messages from

Balloons
Virtual Balloons Raced 500kms from the North Pole in a Week!

Virtual Balloons Raced 500kms from the North Pole in a Week!

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This year Soroptimist International St Albans and District  teamed up with the Herts Domestic Abuse Helpline and held a virtual balloon race for their Christmas fundraiser! The event raised about £200 to be split between the  Herts Domestic Abuse Helpline and the St Albans and Hertsmere Women’s Refuge One of Soroptimist Barbara’s family balloons “Jon the Sherriff” was the winner from our supporters and the family were thrilled to find he had won an Apple iPad!  Soroptimist and our charities’ supporters sponsored 94 balloons and the race included many other participants racing for other worthy causes.  The balloon “Jon the Sherriff” travelled 515.54km and came in second overall – it was the only one of ours that came in the top 100 (1st prize was £500, 2nd prize an Apple iPad and there were 10 £10 book tokens for the runners up). Barbara said “the family

Soroptimist St Albans Gifts for Womens Refuge
Christmas Gifts for Womens Refuge

Christmas Gifts for Womens Refuge

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Our Soroptimist elves have been busy again buying and wrapping up personal Christmas gifts for the women at the St Albans and Hertsmere Women’s Refuge. Santa’s got a right sackful here! We know the women are thrilled at Christmas to know that we’re thinking about them and we hope it brings them a little bit of Christmas cheer and hope for a happy new year! Soroptimist Jean Eaton kindly agreed to be the collection point for the gifts this year. Members were also able to drop off donations of tea, coffee etc for the women’s refuge  (see the photo). Normally when me meet face to face we are able to bring our donations of tea and coffee to Club meetings, so this was a good solution. Someone from the Refuge then came and collected everything. Liz Perry on the Refuge managers says “there is no situation

Soroptimist Tree Planting National Tree Week
National Tree Week – Soroptimists Planting Trees for Centennial

National Tree Week – Soroptimists Planting Trees for Centennial

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St Albans Soroptimists Planet Team will be mobilising the Club to “Plant Trees for a Brilliant Future” in 2021 to celebrate a century of work transforming the lives of women and girls across the globe. Even though Soroptimists can’t meet in person yet, National Tree Week is a great time for #PlantTrees planning. Many Soroptimists have already made a positive impact on nature by planting trees – read their stories here https://bit.ly/30cRIM9. We are using the time to plan our tree planting in 2021 in partnership with St Albans Friends of the Earth www.stalbansfoe.org And joining in the Tree Council’s free programme of cultural events for National Tree Week 2020 #TreelyConnected www.treecouncil.org.uk/take-action/seasonal-campaigns/national-tree-week/join-our-free-national-tree-week-arts-culture-events Why not join us? It is time to:  Wake Up    Take Notice    Raise our voices    Build Back Better for People and Planet Soroptimists Plant Trees for a Brilliant Future #PlantTrees

Soroptimist St Albans Museum Orange the World for 16 Days of Activism
St Albans Museum Turns Orange for Action Against Gender Based Violence

St Albans Museum Turns Orange for Action Against Gender Based Violence

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St Albans Museum and Gallery has turned orange standing with the St Albans Soroptimists for women everywhere 25 Nov marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women the start of #16daysofactivisim #orangetheworld for Zero Tolerance against Gender Based Violence International Day for the  #GenerationEquality  www.un.org/en/observances/ending-violence-against-women-day Thanks to the museum and St Albans City and District Council for making this happen for the first time! It will remain orange until Monday 30 Nov when it will change to Christmas colours. Thanks also to Maya Derrick at the Herts Advertiser for covering the news and raising awareness of the campaign www.hertsad.co.uk/news/museum-orange-for-action-against-gender-based-violence-1-6946806

Domestic Abuse Traveller Film
Screening of Film About Domestic Abuse in Traveller Community for 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence

Screening of Film About Domestic Abuse in Traveller Community for 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence

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Never Going to Beat You – a powerful new film about Domestic Abuse in the Traveller Community To mark the United Nations 16 days of activism against Gender Based Violence , Jude Tisdall presented the brilliant new 1 hour film about domestic abuse in the traveller community called “Never Going to Beat You”. The film was followed by a Q&A on Zoom. This event was organised by Soroptimist International St Albans and District. Jude Tisdall has been a trustee of Giants Theatre Company for many years and is a supporter of the work of The Travellers Movement. She is an educator and arts consultant and is passionate about enabling young people to realise their potential through education in its broadest sense. For more information and resources go to: www.travellermovement.org.uk/advocacy-support/woman-girls/domestic-violence-and-sexual-abuse-project Soroptimists Denise Powell and Ann Beatty welcomed and introduced the event. Jude Tisdall spoke of the six

SIGBI President Johanna Raffan
9 Nov Club Meeting – welcome to SIGBI President Johanna Raffan and feedback from SIGBI Conference

9 Nov Club Meeting – welcome to SIGBI President Johanna Raffan and feedback from SIGBI Conference

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Our special guest speaker at our meeting on Zoom on 9 Nov was the new SIGBI President Johanna Raffan MBE. Johanna is a Member of the Thames Valley Club in the same Region as us – London Chilterns Region. We were really proud when we heard that this was Johanna’s first public engagement since becoming President! Please scroll down to read a brief biography about Johanna. Johanna talked to us first about her passion for education – her career leading to her MBE and how important we all know it is as Soroptimists and a key UN Sustainable Development Goal SDG4 – Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all After that she spoke to us about the reason behind her theme for 2020-21 – “We Stand Up for Women – Believe to Achieve” – the purple and gold colours

Herts Area Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Centre
Club Cuppa and £1000 Donation to Herts Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Centre

Club Cuppa and £1000 Donation to Herts Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Centre

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On the afternoon of Mon 2 Nov nine Soroptimist St Albans Members got together on Zoom for a “cuppa”. We were delighted that Cathy Freeman from Herts Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Centre www.hertsrapecrisis.org.uk was able to join us so we could officially “handover” the £1000 we raised for the charity over the last year. Cathy said “That’s wonderful – thankyou so much! I can’t tell you how much it’s appreciated. In Lockdown we have had to buy 6 laptops! The women will be grateful too.” Fundraising for the £1000 included singing Christmas carols at St Albans Station, coffee mornings at Wesley Cafe in Harpenden and a Health Event on Zoom www.sigbi.org/st-albans-and-district/2020/breathe Cathy gave us an update on what’s been happening to the charity during COVID-19.  Counselling has been carried out online, the volume of referrals for counselling have been about the same as before the pandemic

Sovel Cunningham
Inspiring poetry and spoken word event with Sovel Cunningham

Inspiring poetry and spoken word event with Sovel Cunningham

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On an Autumn October evening we found “space to unwind the mind” thanks to the inspirational Sovel Cunningham who took us on a journey – “Just being me” – a poetry & spoken word event on Zoom. This was scheduled as a social event for Club Members – and in “normal” times we would have probably held an event in the hall where we meet or gone out for a meal together. We began with the Soroptimist Vision and Mission, read by Vathsala, which always focuses our minds at the start of an evening. Soroptimist Vision Women and girls will achieve their individual and collective potential, realise aspirations and have an equal voice in creating strong, peaceful communities worldwide. Soroptimist Mission Soroptimists transform the lives and status of women and girls through education, empowerment and enabling opportunities. Sovel Cunningham is a poet. She began by

Liz Tillett United Nations
Action Packed Club evening – the United Nations, Positive Periods and Womens Cricket

Action Packed Club evening – the United Nations, Positive Periods and Womens Cricket

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Wow – what an action packed Club evening we had on Zoom on Mon 12 October! First up was Club Member Liz Tillett with “Fun and Games at the UN” Liz spoke about her experience negotiating at the United Nations (UN) in New York on behalf of the UK government. Liz led a short quiz to get everyone’s brains in gear – click here to view Liz Tillett UNQuiz Liz’s career led her to working at the UN – negotiating for the UK on UN disability policies. Liz was lucky enough to meet the incumbent US President Barack Obama in the Oval Office on her birthday (sadly we are not permitted to use that photo). Liz explained some of the complexity of our political system and why change is so difficult. She was rightly very proud of the disability group that ensured that disabilities are

Soroptimist London Chilterns Region President Helen Byrne
St Albans Soroptimists Lead the Region Two Years Running

St Albans Soroptimists Lead the Region Two Years Running

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Congratulations to Helen Byrne who has become the new President of Soroptimist International London Chilterns Region www.sigbi.org/london-chilterns Helen Byrne, pictured here, has been an active Member of Soroptimist International St Albans and District since 2008 and is a past Club President, Membership Officer and is currently facilitator of the Club’s Planet Team which focuses on environment projects. Helen said “I am humbled to be Regional President, especially in 2020-21 the Centenary Year of Soroptimist International. We have achieved so much and yet there is still so much to do. Hence my theme ‘Celebrate the Past, Create the Future’. ” Helen takes over from the Regional President 2019-2020, Denise Powell, who is also an active Member of the St Albans Soroptimist Club – having served as President, Secretary, Programme Action Officer,  currently sharing the Club Presidency with five other Members and facilitator of the Peace Team which

Build Back Better Letter Handover Daisy Cooper MP Chris Allen Kate Swindells Helen Byrne Soroptimist
St Albans Soroptimists Support Build Back Better Movement and Deliver Open Letter to MP

St Albans Soroptimists Support Build Back Better Movement and Deliver Open Letter to MP

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Chris Allen, Founder of Build Back Better St Albans approached Helen Byrne from Soroptimist International St Albans and District asking us to sign an open letter to Daisy Cooper, MP for St Albans. The photo was taken on 8 Oct with Chris Allen and Daisy at the front. At the back left is Kate Swindells and at the back right is Helen Byrne (Jane Slatter took the photo). Build Back Better wants to see a programme which protects public services, tackles inequality in our communities, provides secure well-paid jobs and creates a shockproof economy which can fight the climate crisis. You can click here to read the letter Build Back Better Letter to MP Helen Byrne said “As a non political organisation working to transform the lives of women and girls we are fully supportive of Build Back Better’s aims. We are only too aware

Mandy McNeil St Albans Club Zoom 28 Sep
Survivor of 9/11 speaks to Club to mark the International Day of Peace

Survivor of 9/11 speaks to Club to mark the International Day of Peace

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Mandy McNeil joined our Club Meeting on Zoom to mark the International Day of Peace. Mandy spoke candidly about her life and her experience as a 9/11 Survivor from the World Trade Centre in New York. Club Members were moved and lost for words by Mandy’s powerful testimony. Mandy is originally from New Zealand and from 2000 to 2004 was working for the largest global insurance company called Marsh which had offices across Manhattan including the 99th floor of the World Trade Centre where Mandy worked. On the 11 Sep 2001 Mandy remembers it was a beautiful day when she tried to get to work but was unable to get into the building because everyone was leaving but she had no idea what was happening. She got to a place where she could look back at the building and saw first hand the devastating images

Hertfordshire Ladies win the Inaugural Soroptimist East of England Ladies County Championship Trophy

Hertfordshire Ladies win the Inaugural Soroptimist East of England Ladies County Championship Trophy

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On a chilly Sunday 27th September member Helen Byrne attended Knebworth Cricket Club to present the Inaugural Soroptimist East of England Ladies T40 County Championship Trophy. The presentations were made at the end of the day: Inaugural Soroptimist County Championship Trophy – Hertfordshire. Kezia Hassall collected the trophy on behalf of Hertfordshire Ladies. Kezia takes over from Amy Price (who is now training to be a PE Teacher at the Univ of Herts) as Captain of the Ladies team for both the T20 and the T40 format games for next season. Success in the Inaugural year of the Championship was very equitable with the Best Batter and Bowler Trophies for the T40 competition going to players from the other 2 Counties – Norfolk and Huntingdonshire (presented at a later date). The T20 competition trophy went to Buckinghamshire Before the presentation the final two matches of

Sarah Lichman Eyes
Top to Toe Health – Club Evening – By Us for Us

Top to Toe Health – Club Evening – By Us for Us

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Top to Toe Members’ Health Event on Zoom – by us for us – Members working together for our Club What a wonderful evening – we are so lucky to have these three experts in our Club who shared their knowledge and skill with us over Zoom on Mon 14 Sep. A great way to kick  off our new Club Autumn “term”! Sarah Lichman – The Eyes have it! Eye Health: common conditions in ladies of a certain age! Our first presentation of the evening was from Sarah who is a retired optometrist – she said that developing her presentation for the evening had reminded her how much she had loved her work. She led us though the importance of caring for our eyes and how to do it. She showed diagrams on the screen to show us the eye in detail – see a Zoom

Zoom Soroptimist St Albans Kenya Outing KACH IPI
Vibrant Virtual Club Outing to Meru Kenya

Vibrant Virtual Club Outing to Meru Kenya

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This year our annual August Club Outing was to Meru in Kenya – virtually of course! We went to Kithoka Amani Children’s Home (KACH) a program of International Peace Initiatives www.ipeacei.org in Meru Kenya After introducing everyone to the charity’s founder, Dr Karambu Ringera, we showed this 3 minute video from the kids at KACH – please click and be inspired! Presentation – with vibrant photographs – please click on the orange link here: 2020 KACH 11th Anniv Virtual Tour Dr Karambu Ringera (pictured here and bottom row left on the Zoom screen shot from the visit) took us through this presentation of photographs which marks the 11th Anniversary of KACH. On the call were Soroptimists from around the world as well as many of the staff and kids from KACH. There were 11 Members of SI St Albans and District, 4 Soroptimists from the

Donations of household items for new womens refuge
St Albans and Hertsmere Women’s Refuge Support Update

St Albans and Hertsmere Women’s Refuge Support Update

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At the end of June Soroptimist Club Members met Liz Perry, one of the Managers of the St Albans and Hertsmere Women’s Refuge www.sahwr.org.uk on Zoom. SAHWR provides specialist domestic abuse support services in our area. The full report is below. Liz was able to thank us for our donation of tea, coffee etc (see the photo). Normally when me meet face to face we are able to bring our donations of tea and coffee to Club meetings, but in the current circumstances we agreed to purchase a good supply from a wholesaler. Liz always says there is no situation in the Refuge that can’t be improved by a sit down with a cup of tea. Liz was also able to inform us about a new 5 bedroom refuge opening in September in Hemel Hempstead. Jean Eaton, our Club liaison with the refuge put out

SoroptimiOrla Fawcett Nepal Project Trust
Club Meeting – Orla Fawcett’s Year in Nepal with Project Trust

Club Meeting – Orla Fawcett’s Year in Nepal with Project Trust

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At our Club Meeting on Zoom on 27 July Members were delighted to welcome back Orla Fawcett to report back from her Project Trust 1 year assignment in Nepal. Orla, is pictured 6th from the left in this photo with garlands to thank her at the end  of her assignment. She talked us though the photos in her presentation – please click on this link to view:  Orla Fawcett – My Year in Nepal Orla wrote a Blog in the year she was away – you can read it here –  orlanepal.blogspot.com/ click on “More Posts” at the bottom of the blog to read more. Orla was living and working in a school in Harpe, in the foothills of Annapurna mountains. She told us how life was hard but happy. She lived with a mother and her child, and another volunteer and they became her

Louise Caplin Spice Way
Souper Soroptimist Spice Way of Life with Louise Caplin on Zoom!

Souper Soroptimist Spice Way of Life with Louise Caplin on Zoom!

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The St Albans Soroptimists organised an event for Louise Caplin to demonstrate her ‘Spice Way’ of Life for 45 people online on Zoom on Monday 13th July – and it was “souper”! Louise took us on a live creative cookery adventure using the power of herbs and spices to enhance health and well being. Louise is pictured above getting set up for the demo with her husband, and sous chef for the evening, Adam. Louise is also on the top line of the Zoom group screen shot below. There were  45 people and you can see the group giving a thumbs up for Louise here! Louise would normally run demonstrations for smaller groups in the Spice Way shop so this was a first and we were all delighted by how well it went! The menu for the evening was – gazpacho, frittata, noodles with aubergine,

Praise for Zoom Event with Breathing Coach Jen Tiller

Praise for Zoom Event with Breathing Coach Jen Tiller

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Jen Tiller, Breathing Coach – Helping People Heal and Thrive One Breath at a Time #SoroptimistsinLockdown This event is one of a series of events organised by Soroptimist International St Albans and District focused on wellbeing. As we come through the COVID-19 crisis it is really important that we all stay as well as we can, so that we can enjoy our lives to the full when we move into the new normal…  Messages of thanks came pouring in during and after the Zoom event on Monday 22 June hosted by Soroptimist International St Albans and District “Thank you so much for organising the Zoom session. I enjoyed seeing you all very much and thought Jen’s presentation was absolutely excellent – just what I need at the moment and shall follow it up.” “I thought that was a really informative session – found it very

Dr Alka Patel LIFESTYLE FIRST
Soroptimist Zoom Health Event a Big Hit

Soroptimist Zoom Health Event a Big Hit

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Finding Health and Happiness in a world struck by fear – the L.I.F.E.S.T.Y.L.E. FIRST method – with Dr Alka Patel, GP, Health Coach and Lifestyle Medicine Physician On Monday 8 June the St Albans Soroptimist Club hosted their first Zoom fundraising event and it was a big hit! #SoroptimistsinLockdown This event is one of a series of events organised by Soroptimist International St Albans and District focused on wellbeing. As we come through the COVID-19 crisis it is really important that we all stay as well as we can, so that we can enjoy our lives to the full when we move into the new normal…  Dr Alka Patel delivered her presentation to almost 80 people – helping them to understand her 10 key dimensions of health and simple steps to take every day to prevent, reduce and reverse ill health. We had lots of

President Katherine Clark with picture gift
Club Year 2020-2021 – Shared Presidents and Lockdown

Club Year 2020-2021 – Shared Presidents and Lockdown

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Club Year 2020-2021 – Shared Presidents and Lockdown The Club has six Members sharing the role of President for this Club year  2020/21 May to Aug – Katherine Clark and Sarah Lichman Sep to Dec – Denise Powell and Ameeta Sabharwal Jan to Apr – Barbara Saunders and Jane Slatter They are all shown on the screen shot here from our first Club Zoom meeting on 18 May – please see the image to see how well Club Members are getting to grips with using new technology during the COVID-19 Lockdown. The Club Programme is on the website www.sigbi.org/st-albans/club-programme it includes virtual meetings on Zoom until we are able to meet again face to face. The Club’s AGM was cancelled this year due to COVID-19 – an event where our Members would have said thanks to the outgoing President Katherine Clark, celebrated all of our achievements in the year

Soroptimist St Albans Lockdown Zoom Meeting
SISTAs in Lockdown – Zoom Virtual Club Meeting was Super

SISTAs in Lockdown – Zoom Virtual Club Meeting was Super

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Supporting each other, sharing our challenges and successes On Monday 18 May the Club held its first Virtual Club Meeting on Zoom – SISTAs in Lockdown. One Member said, and everyone agreed, it was “super”! 16 Members attended – plus the Club’s mascot Sally Bear (of course!). One Member who isn’t online joined by telephone. Katherine and Sarah ran the meeting really well and we made some decisions about making additional donations to three local charities close to our hearts who are really in need of financial support at the moment – Home-Start Herts, the St Albans and Hertsmere Women’s Refuge and the Herts Domestic Abuse Helpline. Everyone on the call shared their experiences of lockdown – challenges and successes. There were some shared experiences – positive and negative. Most Members agreed that it the COVID-19 crisis and lockdown feels like a roller coaster ride

Earthworks Steve Pike Soroptimist Barbara Saunders
Earthworks and Watling View School in one inspiring evening!

Earthworks and Watling View School in one inspiring evening!

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On Monday 27 Jan we heard from Steve Pike, Joint Project Leader Earthworks St Albans, the local charity that provides “Horticultural training for those with learning disabilities” and also from Andy Scott, Head of Watling View School St Albans , the special school for pupils with a wide range of complex and profound learning difficulties. In the above photo l to r are Barbara Saunders, Steve Pike, Andy Scott and Debbie Tankard. Barbara and Debbie are in the Club’s Learning Opportunities Team – the group that arranged the event for the Club. Steve Pike has worked for Earthworks for 15 years following a stint volunteering there while he was a student in Hatfield. The Club has helped this worthwhile charity over many years. Steve spoke passionately about Earthworks – The Natural Place to Grow having shown a short film made by the Earthworkers who benefit

Soroptimists at the St Albans Girls School Big Interview Day

Soroptimists at the St Albans Girls School Big Interview Day

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              St Albans Soroptimists Denise Powell, Debbie Tankard and Jane Slatter volunteered again this year to take part in St Albans Girls School (STAGS) “Big Interview day” for year 11 (GCSE year) students. As part of the careers programme at St Albans Girls’ School, they offer a mock interview to every year 11 student on a day called “The Big Interview”. Each student has a half hour interview based on CV’s they have prepared in school and receive verbal and written feedback. Ellen McHugh, Assistant Head Teacher, Student Leadership and Enterprise said in an email to the volunteers after the event: “A HUGE thank you from everyone at STAGS for your support on Tuesday for the Year 11 Big Interview Day and for giving so generously of your time. The students have found your feedback very helpful and many

Refuge and Rape Crisis supported by customers at Wesley Coffee Shop

Refuge and Rape Crisis supported by customers at Wesley Coffee Shop

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Pictured here are St Albans Soroptimist baristas Janet Audley-Charles, Joan WIlliams, Denise Powell, Barbara Saunders with John Powell, our Member Denise Powell’s husband, who completed the team on the 10 Jan. It was a busy Saturday morning at Wesley’s Cafe High Street, Harpenden – and the team served up plenty of teas/coffees and yummy cakes. Coffee mornings at the Wesley Coffee Shop are a great way for us to swell the coffers for our Club’s charities – this time we raised £100! to share between St Albans and Hertsmere Women’s Refuge and Herts Rape Crisis  We’ll be doing it again Sat 7 March so do come and support us – and you can drop to Wesley’s on any day – see the website for more www.highstreetmethodist.org.uk/wesleys/

Great start to the new Club year with Eva Obeng introducing women and products from Ghana

Great start to the new Club year with Eva Obeng introducing women and products from Ghana

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Eva Obeng brings colour and insight to Club Members on a wintry night in St Albans Having been born in Ghana and come to the UK at the age of 16 with her father, Eva embodied the spirit of Soroptimists as she talked passionately about her desire to help and support women in Ghana to become entrepreneurs. She purchases beautiful, well-made and brightly coloured handbags, rucksacks, purses, handmade baskets and shea butter from women in Ghana and sells it for them at local markets including Enfield and St Albans under her trading name of Akra Home Interiors. She spoke about a poignant visit to Ghana to bury her father during which she visited some of her producers and talked with young women about how social attitudes are changing. There is a national policy of education for all, and TV programmes now question traditional stereotypes. Hard-working

Soroptimists Help Watling View School Christmas Market Stall

Soroptimists Help Watling View School Christmas Market Stall

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Watling View School for pupils with profound learning difficulties had a Christmas Stall on St Albans Market again this year on Wed 11 Dec. Students from the school made and prepared plants and crafts as Christmas gifts to sell to raise funds for the school. Barbara Saunders (pictured looking very festive) and Debbie Tankard (photographer) helped staff and pupils on the stall. The young people were able to engage with members of the public and to gain practical experience of selling items which they had previously made. The stall made over £120 which is the best ever � To learn more about the work of Watling View School please come along to our Soroptimist Club Speaker meeting on 27 Jan at 8pm click on this link to find out more www.sigbi.org/st-albans/club-programme/

Inspiring Evening Reveals How To Raise Resilient Girls

Inspiring Evening Reveals How To Raise Resilient Girls

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Motivational speaker Dr Kathy Weston gave a packed-house some brilliant tips and strategies to help families raise resilient girls when she delivered her inspirational talk on Monday 25 Nov at Townsend School St Albans. The talk covered the current state of girls’ mental health, how in this “age of anxiety” it must to be talked about and managed. Kathy explained the mechanics of resilience and how families can give girls the confidence to thrive. The role of digital technology was detailed and the harm from social media undermining children’s views of themselves. There were a few great questions from the floor and then most of the audience left the room almost reeling from the volume of useful information they had received and still processing what they had heard. All attendees will receive a copy of Kathy’s inspiring presentation. Please scroll through the photos below to get a