Our March meeting was cancelled, so we were delighted to meet via Zoom on 21 April. This year’s AGM was very different due to the Coronavirus lockdown. Papers and agenda items for discussion were circulated in advance to all members by email and post. On the night an online meeting was held for those members able to access Zoom with written feedback from the remaining members recorded on file. Our thanks to Alison Mayall, our secretary, for organising this. Now we have tried it out successfuly as a club, there will be more online meetings and social gatherings.
We welcomed Roger Lane from Workaid, accompanied by his wife Cherry who had been brought up in Sierra Leone in the town nearest to Kori (see Kori Women’s Development Project page). Roger outlined his work and the development of Workaid which restores tools and equipment of various types that would enable communities in Africa to become self-sufficient. The club thanked them for their presentation and agreed that a visit to the premises be considered for a future meeting. The club welcomed Denise Powell, Regional President as a visitor. She confirmed that she would be attending the Charter celebrations in March (now postponed to November) and went on to outline her background as a Soroptimist. She noted that while clubs work separately the role of Region is to co-ordinate action and encourage sharing of expertise. Denise also looked forward to learning from the experience of other
We welcomed two speakers from Oxfam who gave us a very informative talk about the charity’s work with communities across the world, focussing on how their work positively impacts women and girls in these areas. Two interesting facts from their talk was that Oxfam work is split 50% emergency relief and 50% development work. Also, there has been a reduction in the percentage of the world living below the International Poverty level from the mid-30s% to 10%.
At our November meeting, we were delighted to welcome Katy Newell-Jones who has spoken to our club previously about her work in Somaliland. We also welcomed Ruth Thomas from SI Weston-super-Mare, one of our Friendship Link clubs. Katy updated the club on progress to address FGC (Female Genital Cutting) in Somaliland. She noted that a number of changes had started to be made in response to her work. Key points included a measurable change in the cutting practice and a move away from the most extreme forms of mutilation. There was also lack of agreement between groups on whether to aim for zero tolerance of FGC or to aim for cutting or pricking only. Religious leaders had endorsed the continuation of some form of FGC but had required that this should be a clinical procedure undertaken by health workers. Unfortunately at present only 5% of
SI Thames Valley member Johann Raffan took office as President Elect for 1029-2020 of Soroptimist International Great Britain and Ireland at the end of the Federation Conference in Bournemouth.
SI Weston-super-Mare, our friendship link, organised a lovely sunny day for our get-together in Bath this year.. After a few stops on the hop on-hop off bus, we arrived at the Holburne Museum for lunch. This was an opportunity for two of Soroptimists’ favourite hobbies – talking and eating. We then wandered through the museum enjoying the varied collections on display, before continuing the bus journey. Finallky, a last cup of tea and cake before saying farewell to our friends. ,
Members paraded their hats, played croquet, boules, hoopla and enjoyed a scrumptious bring and share tea on a glorious sunny afternoon.
We were pleased to support the Community Centre by taking part in their Open Day. Our Programme Action information from our stand is displayed below. See our Club Programme page for meeting dates. You can get in touch via our Contact Us page. What We Do – we call our voluntary work “Programme Action”, which is the reason for being a Soroptimist. It reflects the Vision and the Mission of Soroptimist International. Programme Action encompasses the charities we support International: Kori Women’s Development Project (KWDP) This is an NGO (Non-Government Organisation) registered in Moyamba District, Sierra Leone, West Africa. The main aim of this organisation is to empower, enable and educate women and girls in Kori Chiefdom. This aims to transform the lives of women and girls by encouraging them to take part in agriculture and education relating to health and welfare. 250 women
A BOX FULL OF…………………………………. ……………bras and pants is the latest object to fill up Gill Curry’s bathroom. Gill, our intrepid Kori Trustee, globe trotter and ambassadeur extraordinaire, recently made yet another useful contact. This time it was outside an underwear shop in Swanage where purchasers of new underwear are regularly encouraged to donate their cast-offs to the Kori Women’s Development Project. The new contact turned out to be a buyer for C&A in Brussels, on holiday in Swanage. Persuaded by Gill of our worthy cause, once back at her post in Brussels she persuaded her work colleagues to donate the contents of this huge 17.5 kilo parcel; one of them also paid for the carriage to Gill’s house. Yet another example of the generosity of strangers when they hear of the inspiring story of our Kori Project.
Phyllis Sigsworth – a Soroptimist for over 55 years – spoke about her long career in the police force. She is now a member of SI Slough Windsor & Maidenhead Club, and we also welcomed two of her fellow club members to our April meeting. Initially, she worked as a civilian clerk until she was old enough to be employed as a police constable in 1950. Training included drill, first aid, life-saving, self defence, and learning the law. The police mission is to protect life and property, and to detect and prevent crime. Phyllis spoke about the many changes she has seen over the years. When she joined the police, women made up 5% of the establishment. Today 46% of constables are women. We are all familiar with the modern hi-vis uniform, bristling with equipment. Phyllis described her dark uniform, plus whistle – no truncheon,