Advent Calendar Day 8

It’s day 8 of our Advent Calendar and we have once again prepared welcome bags for the women’s refuges in Lowestoft and Diss.

These bags contain essential items and a few luxuries for women and their children who have had to leave home at short notice. Many of them escaping abuse or violence. 24 bags have been collected and will be delivered. The project is the brainchild of, and coordinated by, Past president Cathy Ryan.

An article from the latest Rotary magazine

The High Sheriff of Wiltshire, Nicky Alberry, explains how important Rotary has become in helping her campaign to tackle domestic abuse.By Dave KingPublished Date: October 1, 2018

During football’s World Cup this summer, there was one eye-catching meme which went viral on social media: ‘No one wants England to win more than women – domestic abuse rates rise by 38% when England lose’.

It was published by the domestic abuse charity, the Pathway Project, drawing attention to a delicate subject when everyone’s eyes were fixed on sport.

According to the Office for National Statistics, 1.2 million women suffered domestic abuse last year and, on average, two women every week were killed by their partner or ex-partner between 2014 and 2017.

For Nicky, as the current High Sheriff of Wiltshire, this is an issue which sits top of her targets and one she is very familiar with through a couple of friends.

“They had very supportive family units, a good education, good jobs, yet they still ended up in a very unpleasant and unhealthy relationship,” she said.

“Both of my friends have children. Fortunately, they managed to extricate themselves from their relationships and move on with their lives.

“But, it really made me think that there are a lot of women who I see at the refuges and out and about in Wiltshire who don’t have that support. They don’t have the courage or the ability to be able to live on their own, away from their perpetrator.

“In a way, this was one of the catalysts for choosing domestic abuse as one of my focuses for the year.”

Nicky, who is a past president of Swindon Rotary and an active member, is only the 10th woman in the county to hold the office of High Sheriff. She is appointed by the Queen for what is the oldest secular appointment after the Crown. In Wiltshire, the role dates back to Saxon times in 1066 when they were the King’s right-hand man responsible for keeping law and order in the county. That meant raising an army, collecting taxes and dispensing justice – everything that kept the county or bailiwick safe.

New High Sheriff of Wiltshire Nicky Alberry

High Sheriff of Wiltshire, Nicky Alberry, who is also a member of Swindon Rotary

Over the years, with the creation of Parliament and the armed forces, along with the rise of the police force, the role no longer has connotations with Robin Hood and Sherwood Forest.

Every High Sheriff serves a one-year term and because of her involvement with the charity Swindon Women’s Aid, as well as serving as chairman of the Domestic Violence Organisation in Swindon, Nicky chose this as her theme.

“Swindon Rotary and other clubs in the town have been a huge supporter of the refuge here,” added Nicky.

“Since taking on the role, I have spent a lot of time going out and understanding what all the organisations, including the police and the court system, are doing to tackle domestic abuse, which, sadly, affects one in four women, and one in six men, and has a massive impact upon children.

“Domestic abuse is huge. We are seeing families where second and third generations have been subjected to violent relationships, and the police and court systems are dealing with it all the time.

“Quite often, the women have complex problems in addition to dealing with the violent relationship – and it doesn’t need to be physical violence, it can be a controlling or coercive relationship with their partner.

“These women may have drug or alcohol problems, as well as mental health problems.

“It is a very, very big problem today, but I have been heartened by the support that is being given to these victims, and the willingness of everybody to think how can we do things differently to make it better and actually stop many of these cases from escalating.”

Nicky frankly admits that she is being “a right pain in the neck” in pushing the agenda, mindful that the public sector is under huge financial pressures.

It can mean that by the time a woman and her children end up in a refuge, it is far too late. The problems are deep-rooted and expensive to deal with; the family need a new home to live in, a new school for the children, police and possibly court involvement, plus medical intervention, the list goes on.

They had very supportive family units, a good education, good jobs, yet they still ended up in a very unpleasant and unhealthy relationship.”

What she wants is more collaborative working between education, health, police, the courts, and community organisations to educate people about healthy relationships and different ways of living together.

In January, with the support of Wiltshire’s Chief Constable and the Police and Crime Commissioner, Nicky is hosting a conference looking at early intervention and working with perpetrators. “You have got to address both sides of the problem, and work with them to change their behaviours and to do something around the health aspects too,” she added.

But what about Rotary, an organisation she joined in 1997. What part can it play in tackling this thorny issue?

“Rotary can do a lot,” answered Nicky, who pointed out how a couple of members of her club have put together a programme of activities for the women and their families at the Swindon refuge.

Fundraising is another avenue, whether buying Christmas presents or Easter eggs for the local refuge, as well as supplying clothing, food and practical items to help the women and their families when they move on and out of the refuge.

“Raising awareness is important, as well as supporting some of the practical programmes for victims, including volunteering to become mentors to support the women on a six-week programme called ‘Route 66’ designed to help them start thinking about becoming financially independent and looking for a job.

“Rotary is ideally placed to work alongside this agenda,” said Nicky, who admitted that her club has been “absolutely brilliant” this year helping her as High Sheriff of Wiltshire.

Advent Calendar Day 7

Day 7 of our Advent Calendar sees us donating £139 to a new charity for us “Mary’s Meals“. This will provide 10 meals for a year for children in some of the 17 countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and the Caribbean that Mary’s Meals works.

This donation will be matched by the UK Government so our donation will help twice as many children.

From their website:-

“Our vision is that every child receives one daily meal in their place of education and that all those who have more than they need, share with those who lack even the most basic things.

Working together with those who share our vision, we believe there is no good reason why this cannot be realised.” 

Our mission

Mary’s Meals is a global movement supported by people from many walks of life and different backgrounds.

Our mission is to enable people to offer their money, goods, skills, time, or prayer, and through this involvement, provide the most effective help to those suffering the effects of extreme poverty in the world’s poorest communities.

We welcome all into the Mary’s Meals family and we believe everyone has something important to contribute to the realisation of our vision.

Advent Calendar Day 6

For day 6 of our Advent Calendar, we will be buying a nanny goat and a one-third share of a billy goat. We will do this with our donation of £172 through one of our favourite charities “Kids for Kids” 

KIDS FOR KIDS helps children the world has forgotten, children in Darfur, Sudan, who live lives of inexcusable and unimaginable hardship.  Our key project is a goat loan – we don’t believe in charity, we believe in enabling people to help themselves. Children are malnourished in every village.   Many have had no protein, minerals or vitamins for months on end which not only means lasting damage to them physically but their IQ is reduced, often irreparably.  Goat’s milk transforms a child’s health. 

Goat loans are just one way we help.  By providing an integrated package of sustainable projects which parents tell us will help them the most –  projects suitable to the region which have both an immediate, and a long-term impact – we are lifting families out of abject poverty and transforming whole villages.  To date, we have adopted 87 villages across North Darfur. Over 370,000 people whose lives have been improved long-term in one of the most remote and inaccessible regions of the world, where violence is still a daily hazard on the walk to water.

 

Advent Calendar Day 5

For the fifth day of our Advent Calendar, we will donate £150 to the Charity “Scotty’s Little Soldiers”.

Scotty’s Little Soldiers is a charity dedicated to supporting children & young people who have lost a parent whilst serving in the British Armed Forces.

Inspired by the experience of Army widow Nikki Scott following the death of her husband Cpl Lee Scott in Afghanistan in 2009, the charity is currently providing assistance to hundreds of bereaved Forces children around the UK.

Support offered to the children includes fun activities such as holiday breaks and group events, personal development assistance through educational grants and access to professional bereavement counselling

Our mission is to #HelpTheirChildrenSmile.

Advent Calendar Day 4

It’s day 4 of our Advent calendar and as we near Christmas our thoughts turn to the homeless. The charity Crisis can provide a place for a homeless person at Christmas for £28.18. This will provide – 

  • A warm welcome and good company
  • Three nutritious, hot meals daily, including a delicious Christmas dinner
  • A bed for the night, if needed
  • A chance to shower, freshen up and get clean clothes
  • A health check and treatment from a doctor, optician and dentist
  • Expert help with mental health and addiction problems
  • Advice on housing, employment and benefits
  • A way out of homelessness for good through Crisis’ year-round training, education and support.

We have made a donation of £281.80, enough for 10 people to this worthwhile charity.

Advent Calendar Day 1

To kick-off this year’s Advent Calendar we have made a £100 donation to a very worthwhile charity, The Silverline.

From their website:- 

The Silver Line Helpline provides three functions to support older people:

•  a sign-posting service to link them into the many, varied services that exist around the country
•  a befriending service to combat loneliness
• a means of empowering those who may be suffering abuse and neglect, if appropriate to transfer them to specialist services to protect them from harm

Since our national launch, The Silver Line Helpline has received over 1.4 million calls. Over two-thirds of these calls were made overnight or at weekends when no other helpline is available for older people who may be lonely, isolated or confused. We now receive around 10,000 calls every week from lonely and isolated older people; with 53% of callers saying they have literally no-one else to speak to.

Over 3,000 volunteer Silver Line Friends are making regular weekly friendship calls to older people.  We have launched Silver Circles, group calls for people with shared interests, and have started Silver Letters for people who prefer the written word or are hearing impaired.

We rely entirely on voluntary donations to cover the cost of calls to the helpline, The Silver Line’s friendship services, and all other costs.

Advent Calendar Day 24

It’s Christmas Eve and the last day of our Advent Calendar. For day 24 we will be donating £150 to Operation Smile. 

Operation Smile was founded in 1982 when Dr. William (Bill) P. Magee, Jr., a plastic surgeon, and his wife, Kathleen (Kathy), a nurse and clinical social worker, travelled to the Philippines with a group of medical volunteers to repair children’s cleft lips and cleft palates.

What they found was overwhelming. “People pushed their babies at us,” recalls Kathy. “They tugged at our sleeves with tears in their eyes and begged us to help their children.” In Naga City, approximately 300 families arrived hoping their children would receive surgery, but the team could only treat 40 children. As they prepared to leave, the Magees made a promise they would return to help more children. Continue reading more on the Operation Smile website.