July 2016 Newsletter
Saturday 9 July 2016 saw 100 Soroptimists meeting in Bristol to celebrate ‘Achieving change – building on success’ – learning more about slavery, women’s imprisonment and FGM from our keynote speakers:
Kevin Hyland OBE the UK Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner;
Juliet Lyon CBE, Director of the Prison Reform Trust;
Lucy Russell from Plan UK.
Their messages included thanks to Soroptimists across the UK for our help in taking forward work in all these areas. But there is still much to be done:
Kevin Hyland asked Soroptimists to:-
Write to our area Police & Crime Commissioners, Chief Constables & local MPs about:
- the need for Child Advocates for children caught up in trafficking, as suggested in the report from the University of Bedford to the Home Office1;
- changes in consumer attitudes so that companies are pressured by consumers as well as legal requirements to make their supply chains transparent;
- changes in Tied Visas for Domestic Workers as a consequence of the James Ewins report 2– The Government’s response 3 goes part of the way but more needs to be done.
- Asked us to write to Caroline Dinenage MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Women, Equalities and Family Justice at the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Education to support the Prison Reform Trust proposal to support the development of a women’s centre on the Holloway site now that it has been closed 4.
- Spoke about the difference between police triage of minor offenders in Wales and England. In Wales, where possible, minor offenders are diverted to alternative help before charges are made 5. However, in England charges are made first and thus even very minor offenders are labeled, with repercussions leading to lost opportunities for avoiding re-offending and developing a better future;
- Welcomed the decision not to build a new prison at Inverclyde and to develop community alternatives for women which would enable them to maintain family contact and secure a positive future for themselves 6.
- asked us to support the campaign ‘Because I am a girl’ – and drew attention to Plan’s ‘The Uncut Girls’ Club 7;
- Told us about the Maasai Cricket Warriors who are refusing to marry girls who have been cut 8;
- Highlighted the new duty to report cases in England and Wales. It is estimated that 2000 girls in the UK are at risk of FGM this year.
During the afternoon, breakout sessions were held by:
Sheila Elsey from the Phillipine Community Fund (renamed the Purple Community Fund 9) which works to help children and families in poverty, now extending to the UK and wider afield. The collection of ring pulls and their transformation into useful and decorative items continues;
Chloe Setter from ECPAT UK 10 which concentrates on the protection of trafficked children and those exploited in tourism;
Debbie Cox from Rebuilders 11 which delivers a programme to convicted women with the aim of reducing reoffending;
Lizzie Bond and Nicky Wynn-Mackenzie, joined for the plenary session by Suzy Dymond-White, from Changing Tunes 12 which uses music to aid the rehabilitation of prisoners and ex-prisoners;
Caroline Jones from Action Aid 13 which works to address the scourge of FGM as well as other issues concerning women’s rights;
Layla Ismail and Saadye Ali from Forward UK 14 who spoke about the practice of FGM and how they help to change attitudes within communities, without which nothing will change.
These sessions gave people the chance to explore further the effect slavery, imprisonment of women and FGM have on women, girls and their wider communities as well as ways in which we can help to combat them.
The morning and afternoon sessions ended with plenary sessions, chaired respectively by Federation President Margaret Emsley in the morning and Immediate Past President of Soroptimist International Ann Garvie in the afternoon, during which delegates explored further the issues raised throughout the day.
We ended with a renewed determination to continue our work and to act on the suggestions made by contributors for further action.
UKPAC Meeting Bristol 10 July 2016
Food Security & Healthcare
Sustainable Development Goal 2 aims to End hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture. Goal 3 seeks to Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all ages. To achieve a healthy outcome an adequate nutritious diet is essential. In March this year the General Assembly of the United Nations recommended 2016-2025 be designated the Decade for Action on Nutrition, led by the UN Food & Agriculture Organisation & World Health Organisation.
A Focus on Food Security
There is steady growth in the number of local Foodbanks providing emergency provision. The Trussell Trust reported a 2% increase in the emergency three day food parcels given out in the past year, reaching a staggering 1,109,309 parcels. The main reasons given for needing the help is benefit delays and changes, low income and debt. Clubs have raised more than £17,000 in cash and food donation to support local initiatives.
A Focus on Healthcare
We live in an ageing society and supporting individuals suffering from dementia and their carers has been reported by an increased number of clubs.
Provision of Feminine Hygiene Protection items to enable girls to attend school and women work whilst menstruating with accompanying health education has been on the international agenda for a number of clubs.
Fund raising to support various cancer related charities and local schemes is supported by many clubs across the federation.
Areas for development include:
- Ensuring health needs of trafficked women are met;
- Raising awareness of FGM across the UK and exploring the provision of local services.
Rita Beaumont, APD Food Security & Healthcare
Advocacy is a new post which involves almost every aspect of Soroptimist activities. What does Advocacy mean to you? Advocacy is the voice of people who can’t speak for themselves. Clearing pathways through training, mentoring and workshops enables others to have their voice and take necessary actions.
Lobbying and campaigning on issues around women’s rights requires vigilance to ensure human rights are not lost and are enforced.
Successful advocacy projects include the White Ribbon Campaign now in collaborative discussions with SI Pakistan.
SI Nigeria advocated for female inheritance rights for eastern Nigeria and plan visiting the rural areas advocating the change.
Parliamentary Outreach have agreed training for Soroptimists in the UK on ‘Women in Parliament’. A ‘Train the Trainer’ Day is scheduled for 22 September at London Westminster. Regional sessions on Lobbying and Campaigning are also available. For more information or to book a place please email me (Margaretclark123@gmail.com).
Soroptimists are committed to working towards achieving the 2030 agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which are linked with our Soroptimist Goals. To enable us to monitor our work effectively Rose Hutchinson from Midland Arden demonstrated the use of a matrix, developed by SI Kenilworth, which identifies successes as well as gaps. This will be distributed to all regional PA Chairmen.
To ensure we retain our ECOSOC status it is vital we record our PA activities on the database. Help is available from the members’ part of the SIGBI web site at https://sigbi.org/members/files/Manage-Directory-User-Guide.pdf in Section 4, page 10.
Working together will help us achieve success.
Margaret Clark APD Advocacy
Download July 2016 Newsletter in pdf format 7-2016 newsletter