Soroptimists call the work we do ‘Programme Action’. We aim to improve the lives of women and girls through
AWARENESS – raising our own awareness, and others’, of the issues women and girls face both locally and globally
ADVOCACY – speaking out about these issues, to decision makers and politicians as well as the general public
ACTION – giving practical help, through organisations we know and trust.
In SI Stafford we have some charities and organisations to which we give on-going support:
Staffordshire Women’s Aid – the local organisation that helps victims of domestic abuse and provides advice and support as well as a Refuge. On their behalf, we have conducted petitions (as far as No. 10 Downing St, with the help of our MPs), rattled collecting tins, run a conference to promote the White Ribbon Campaign, and many other examples.
- Angel Tree – a Prison Fellowship project that gives prisoners the opportunity to give Christmas presents to their children. We work with Drake Hall Women’s Prison near Eccleshall. As well as buying and wrapping the presents we also contribute diversionary activities for the women themselves.
- Young People’s Support Service (YPSS) – this is a small unit in the NHS in Stoke on Trent that gives targeted support to young and very vulnerable parents. We provide its staff with retail vouchers that they can use to help the young mums provide clothing and other necessities for themselves and their babies. They have been working with very old computers that they use to help the young people apply for benefits etc. We have recently bought them 2 tablets, so that the young people can apply for benefits etc more easily. Our vouchers don’t have to cost much but they make a huge difference to these young girls.
In 2019/20 we will be working on 2 major themes:
Swim to Save a Life
Through its Aquatic Survival Programme the RNLI is supporting partners all over the world to provide the necessary skills and knowledge to women and girls from vulnerable populations to help them stay safe in and around water – rivers, lakes, the seas.
In Zanzibar, water is their life. Every day people travel from their villages to reach local islands using dhows. They are very overcrowded and if a dhow capsizes it is the women and girls who drown as it is felt that ‘women and girls have better things to do than learn to swim’ and that ‘swimming is for boys not girls’.
The Panje Project is a locally-run project, making it possible for the women and girls to stay safe in water. They learn swimming skills, aquatic safety and drowning prevention techniques. It has also empowered students to teach others, creating a sustainable cycle. Importantly it has provided them with ‘burkinis’ (full-length swimsuits) so that they can get into the water without compromising their cultural and religious beliefs. In Zanzibar the ‘burkini’ is saving lives.
SI Stafford has been very keen to support the Panje project, having the confidence of a major and well respected patron in the RNLI. We call our project of awareness raising and fund raising “Swim to Save a Life’.
Young People Leaving Care in Staffordshire
With the help of the Staffordshire Leaving Care team we plan to explore how we can support local young people who are leaving local authority care at the age of 18, up to 25. These young people often have very disturbed backgrounds and they need help to establish themselves in life. They suffer from isolation and often the lack of a parent figure to give them encouragement, advice and guidance.