A worldwide organisation which offers a global voice for women is marking 80 years of work in Morecambe.
Over the past 80 years Soroptimist International of Morecambe and Heysham has had a proud history of service to the local community.
Way back in 1939, at a meeting during the blackout, the club members undertook to collect items of clothing and household goods for a Home for Unemployed Women.
From 1939 to 1945 most projects were linked to the war effort.
Including running a Canteen for Soldiers on a nightly basis. Tea cost one penny and a meat pie tuppence.
The club adopted a destroyer; HMS Fowey, and members knitted balaclavas, socks and scarves.
After the war, other concerns came to the fore. Members became interested in Prison Reform (in relation to women) and were concerned about children being born in prison.
They responded to a request for each soroptimist in the country to provide one book for each woman in prison.
By 1949 members were serving on committees concerned with old people’s welfare, supporting youth clubs, the Centre for the Blind and cancer charities.
In the 1950s the club helped with the formation of a local branch of the Save the Children Fund.
S.I. Morecambe and Heysham – ahead of its time – has always been conscious of the environment.
They have taken part in the annual beach clean for more than 20 years with Tidy Britain and Marine Conservation, and have planted bulbs in and around the local area.
The club has distributed and collected tins for Marie Curie nurses, they have knitted Teddies for Tragedies (to give each child caught up in a tragedy a toy of their own) and blankets for a Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia.
Three years ago the club worked in partnership with Morecambe library to provide a defibrillator placed outside the library and is available to local people and visitors alike.
Presently S.I. Morecambe and Heysham have been involved with Morecambe Homeless Action, cooking, giving the kitchen a deep clean, collecting food for the foodbank and were able to provide Christmas boxes for the homeless and toiletries for the young homeless at the local college.
Internationally, the club has been supporting the Meru Women’s Garden Project in Kenya.
This initiative is in year two of a three year project giving training to groups of women helping them to become self-sufficient.
The club members have been selling their own homegrown produce to raise funds.
They have also supported the Khiraule Charity in Nepal, helping to raise funds for a local health worker and a midwife in this remote Himalayan village.
The club has supported many more charities over the years including Life Education, Young Carers, Blood Bikes, CancerCare, the hospice, talking newspapers, Children’s Holiday of a Lifetime and many more.
As the club begins its next 80 years, Soroptimist International of Morecambe and Heysham looks forward to the challenges of the future.
Times change, but human need, in so many forms, remains waiting to be met.
Any woman who wants to make a difference in the world will receive a warm welcome in the friendly and active club. Go online at https://sigbi.org/morecambe-and-heysham/