Club members serve as volunteers, mentors and committee members on a number of different local groups in and around East Grinstead - Oxfam, Care in East Grinstead and Lingfield, the East Grinstead Music Festival, East Grinstead Talking News for the visually handicapped, the East Grinstead Museum, Fairtrade, and supporting Rotary with a Christmas street collection.
Sackville School: Good Citizen Award
Over the past few weeks East Grinstead Club have been working with Year 9 at Sackville School on their annual Good Citizen Award. Two members visited a morning assembly in February to tell the students about the work of Soroptimist International and to introduce the competition.
Each student then completed an application form describing his/her contribution to the family, school and community and outlining what he/she considered to be a good citizen. Over 200 forms were then sifted and reduced to a list of eleven. From that list, six students were shortlisted for interview. Interviews took place in the Mayor’s Parlour at East Court and the four interviewers were very impressed by the high calibre of candidates. Grace de Souza was chosen as the worthy winner with Nuha Diaz Cano, Rhia Hobby, James Purnford, Jess Shephard and Charlotte Thomas close runners-up. Grace was presented with a certificate, plaque and cheque for £30.00 which was matched by the school. The five runners-up were awarded a certificate for inclusion in their Records of Achievement. This annual Award is designed not only to encourage the students to consider their roles as local citizens but also to demonstrate to the community that young people do play an important and valuable part in today’s society.
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The 2015 Good Citizen Award Finalists
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Tadpoles Swimming Club
Founded in 1982 East Grinstead Tadpoles provides recreational swimming facilities, in a safe environment, for people of all ages with disabilities who could benefit from swimming and water therapy. Our club has been involved with Tadpoles for many years through paying for some of the evenings in the local swimming pool ensuring exclusive use where participants can enjoy a relaxed hour of water therapy. We also provide in-water and pool side assistance as well as changing supervision as well as helping to fund hoists, chair lifts and swimming awards.
One of our members manages a local 26 acre Nature Reserve in Lingfield which provides educational visits for children and disadvantaged people, giving recreation and fun whilst benefiting the environment. Another member runs a Field Centre which hosts visits from schools, and other youth groups to give children experience of natural rural areas and educates them about the need for care and to protect and sustain the environment.
Club members often help with visits and conservation activities at both centres including surveys on bluebells, birds and dormice. As part of National Tree Week we've planted a hornbeam in the Community Orchard at the Lingfield Reserve and helped local MP Sam Gyimah plant the 4,500 tree at the Reserve.

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Planting trees with local MP Sam Gyimah
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Lingfield Nature Reserve - tree planting.
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East Grinstead SI Members guide a children’s group at the Briars Field Centre.
East Grinstead Mental Health Association
East Grinstead Mental Health Association approached us for assistance with providing outlets and activities for clients in addition to support with fundraising. Each Friday a group of clients comes to one of 3 conservation sites: Chequer Mead and the Town Hall public grounds in East Grinstead and the Field Centre run by one of our members. The group undertakes a variety of tasks from planting & growing their own vegetables, tidying flower beds, working in the greenhouse, to ditch digging, bramble pulling, taking part in environmental surveys, and bird box and feeder maintenance. These conservation mornings provide companionship, helps to develop new outdoor environment skills, and increases confidence. Other work done by club members in support of East Grinstead Mental Health Association includes: committee work and raising funds to support the Association's activities
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Crawley Open House
We regularly donate resources to Crawley Open House (
www.crawleyopenhouse.co.uk) a local charity which provides support and services for those suffering the effects of homelessness, unemployment, loneliness, discrimination, or other forms of social exclusion. At each club meeting we collect specific items such as sheets, blankets, toiletries, shoes, clothes, tinned food, and coffee and tea which we then take to the centre.

Working with the Elderly
Every Christmas for several years in partnership with the charity Contact the Elderly we have hosted a party with homemade sandwiches, cakes and mince pies for our elderly residents living alone in the town. We serve the tea, organise games and put on entertainment with piano and singing where all can join in, ending with a medley of Christmas carols.
We have also set up a weekly session of art and craft activities at the Age Concern Day Centre which attracted a regular group of participants. They learned to draw, paint, design and make cards which developed a range of motor skills, increased self-confidence and motivation, giving a sense of achievement. During the sessions, friendships develop with opportunities for chats and catching up with news.

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Christmas Tea Party hosted by SI East Grinstead

Working with our local Brownies and Guides

During 2011/2012 we worked with the Girl Guiding movement in East Grinstead to produce dresses for children in Africa. These dresses were fashioned out of ordinary domestic pillow-cases. Rainbows aged 5 - 7 decorated pockets with waterproof coloured pens, Brownies aged 8 - 10 helped to shape the armholes and necklines and bind the edges. The older girls, Guides and Rangers, contributed throughout the process by assisting the younger ones and by taking on the more complex tasks using sewing machines. Every group in the town took part over the period of the project. The resulting dresses were a riot of colour with contrasting pockets and trims. In total around 500 dresses were sent to various parts of Africa, some being delivered by personal contacts. Before shipping the dresses, the children held a fashion show to raise awareness of the project and to show off their skills. In 2012 the project won an award presented by the Soroptimist South East England Region - the Daphne Whitmore Rose Bowl Award - and we also had the honour of presenting our project at the annual Soroptimist Conference, also in 2012. Our friendship club in India, SI Pune Metro East also sent us the dresses they had made for onward circulation to Africa.

Following this very successful collaboration, club members also took part in Brownie Revels and other events, working with the girls on a Bee Project. The aim of this was to make the children aware of the drastically reducing number of bees and its implications for the environment. The girls took part in quizzes and a variety of bee-related arts and crafts.

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Presenting our project at the 2012 conference

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East Grinstead brownies working with SI members on bee awareness.