Soroptimist International Swindon & District Programme Action Report for Soroptimist Year 2013-2014
The Club has celebrated two U N special days this year- The Day of the Girl Child and International Women’s Day:
We had a display for twelve days in the Swindon Central Library for The Day of the Girl Child which publicised our ‘Loves Me, Loves Me Not’ bookmarks and posters as well as the dangers of trafficking , child prostitution, under age marriage and the need for all girls in the world to have an education.
We assisted Rosa Matheson and members of various local women’s groups in formulating the program for a big celebration in Swindon of International Women’s Day. There were numerous special events in Swindon Library and other venues throughout the day and evening. We again had a Soroptimist Display in a prominent place in the Library for a week which we manned throughout the Day itself. We were able to publicise our Programme Action projects to all visitors as well as the Vision, Mission and Values of Soroptimist International.
A number of our members were at the Regional meeting in Taunton on IWD and joined in the March through the centre of the town wearing red and carrying banners culminating in a meeting with the lady Mayor of Taunton who was formally presented with a copy of Malala’s book.
We held a fundraising and social event in July for The Big Project (which is the SIGBI joint project employing various strategies to help women give birth more safely in The Gambia.) This ‘Tea and Tarts’ event raised £225. Thank you to Georgina for hosting the afternoon at her house.
UKPAC (UK Programme Action Committee) asked all Soroptimists to carry out research for The Prison Reform Trust on Reducing Women’s Imprisonment. One Member attended a Conference in Bristol organised by the Bristol Club which gave an insight into facilities for women offenders in Bristol. This helped us to get a perspective on what to look for in Swindon. An impressive presentation was given by Eden House which provides a place where women offenders can meet with their probation officer and key worker and attend compulsory and optional workshops and sessions planned to raise self esteem, help with budgeting, temper management, helping to extract themselves from domestic violence, drugs and alcohol etc. As a result the courts in the area have another sentencing option (enabling women to remain with their children) instead of prison. This was a facility needed in Swindon. It became unnecessary to lobby for it however as we learnt that Isis Women’s Centre in Gloucester was planning to open a centre in Swindon funded initially by Wiltshire Probation Trust. We arranged a visit to the Gloucester Centre, where again we were impressed with the set up after being shown around and talking to the various workers there. We interviewed Angus MacPherson, Wiltshire Police Commissioner, who was very helpful and interested in the information gathering project. We carried out a good deal of research locally and on the internet and gave a report of our findings relating to Swindon and Wiltshire to The Prison Reform Trust.
President Janice’s chosen charity this year was Fight for Sight. A lovely fundraising evening involving presentations from Chocoholics and Party Lights raised £284. Thank you to Gillian for hosting the evening. Former member Jan Messenger donated £40 from her annual Plant Sale. Members agreed a donation of £500 from the Benevolent Fund should also be donated to Fight for Sight.
This year’s International December 10th Appeal was for projects the International President named ‘See Solar Cook Solar’. Money was raised from the sale of jam, the Christmas dinner raffle and by a donation by a Member in lieu of sending Christmas cards and £100 was sent to SI.
We have continued to give service locally at the Broadgreen Breakfast Club for the homeless in Swindon and donated pocket can openers to enable clients to open tins of cold food they take with them when they leave. We have also made regular donations of food to the Swindon Food Bank.
A donation of £250 was made to Swindon Women’s Aid. £80 was given to Rosa Matheson from our sales of her book ‘A Day in the Life of 100 British Women’,which she sells to raise money for three projects in Nepal aimed at the empowerment of women and girls there.
£500 was sent to the SIGBI Benevolent Fund.
We continued to be concerned about the teaching of personal relationships. We carried out a survey of all the secondary schools in Wiltshire concerning the teaching of PSHE and sending some of our bookmarks and posters. We were pleased to receive a good proportion of responses which we were able to pass on to our regional P A Officer. One school requested that we send them more bookmarks for which they made a donation of £10. Posters and bookmarks have also been supplied to various churches. Another request for bookmarks came from as far away as Ipswich Women’s Aid.
A number of Members continue to lend small sums to women entrepreneurs in the third world through lendwithcare.org .All of our microloans have been repaid and lent again to other women
We sponsored a young lady named Steph Hovey to assist her with the cost of a useful trip to teach in Bolivia . She is going to attend the next dinner meeting to tell us about her experiences.
Members donated £40 in memory of former member, Anne Baxter, to Swindon Mind.
Following the sudden death of the long term chef at The Kings, £25 was donated to The British Heart Foundation in remembrance of him.
We had some fascinating after dinner speakers some talking about their charities to whom speaker fee donations of £25 were made for Breakthrough Cancer, 3m’s Memory Cafe and Swindon Mind.
We have continued to lobby MP’s about various matters including FGM and reducing women’s imprisonment and have signed a number of Petitions including obtaining signatures for SI Stafford’s Petition to the Prime Minister regarding the punishment of all forms of violence against women and numerous on-line petitions.