Since 2011, members of the Richmond and Dales Soroptimist branch have invited student volunteers from Richmond Sixth Form College to contribute to their focus on supporting women and girls around the world to achieve their individual and collective potential. This year, the girls worked as a close-knit team and organised a dress-down day, raising £1,064. The girls deliberated very carefully on the best use of the money and put together a considered plan that realised multiple outcomes to enable the maximum possible number of people to benefit.
Sue Young, Co-President of the Richmond and Dales Soroptimist Group said: “The girls have done a magnificent job to raise over £1,000. What I really admire is the creative way in which they have used the money to ensure so many people received much-needed support. Through their thoughtful and considered approach, they carefully set and met their objectives and were very effective and organised and, in doing so, they raised their own awareness and compassion for women across the world who are facing adversity and living in challenging conditions. In addition, they demonstrated their ability to communicate, control finances and unite as a team, all valuable and transferable skills for the world of work.”
The students realised sufficient funds to support four projects, starting with the Toilet Twinning project. The facts are harsh, with one third of the world’s population not having anywhere safe to go to the toilet and every two minutes, one child under the age of five dies because of poor sanitation. The girls are delighted that their donation has enabled six basic toilets to be built for families in poor communities and has given them access to clean water and learn about hygiene. The toilets are twinned with latrines in Nicaragua, Malawi, Myanmar, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire and the Central African Republic. There is a constant reminder of this excellent work in college, with framed certificates displayed in the girls’ toilets.
The girls also devoted £100 to the ‘Yorkshire to Gambia’ project to purchase a sewing machine to make reusable sanitary towels. A further £200 was spent on purchasing sanitary products to be donated to the Foodbank at the Influence Church, in Richmond, and to help combat period poverty in their own community. The girls donated £300 to a project in Zimbabwe to support traditional birthing attendants to help prevent infection around newborn babies and their mothers.
The students were thrilled with the results of their work. Eleanor Bramley said: “By working with this group, it has really highlighted the importance of spreading awareness about certain topics that may never have crossed some people’s minds.” Becky Potts went on to say: “Working with the Soroptimists was an amazing experience and really opened my eyes to world problems and how this group is helping to make a change.” Faye McLean added: “I really enjoyed being able to spread awareness in our local area and understand more about how this group are helping people around the world.”
Les Richardson, Assistant Headteacher, concluded: "I am extremely grateful that every year, members of the local Soroptimists' club take the time to mentor some of our Sixth Form girls. It is an excellent experience for the students and, as you can see, we often get such praiseworthy results. This year's group of girls have worked very well together as a team, demonstrating many of our core values. We are proud of the students and our connection with the Soroptimists."
To find out more about the fabulous work of the Richmond and Dales Soroptimists visit https://sigbi.org/richmond-and-dales/