SE Region Soroptimists attend Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict

On Tuesday 10th June, Lewes member Anne Hudson, East Grinstead Sororoptimists, Angela Edwards, Jane Oatey and Alison Skinner and Angela Howe from Medway Towns were at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict.  This 4 day event at the Excel Centre in London was opened by Foreign Secretary William Hague and UNHCR Angelina Jolie.
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Restoring Hope in Maidstone

Two women, Daniela and Nicola, who set up the Restoring Hope project in 2013, spoke recently to SI Maidstone.
They were inspiring. They and a few other volunteers found a house to rent got it decorated and furnished.
The house has room for 3 women. They live there for as long as they need, typically for 6- 12 months until suitable alternative independent housing can be found.
The key to ensuring that the women do not return to the sex trade is the support that they get from this project. The women are supported to claim housing benefit, which funds the house but they also get support with a myriad of other things including literacy, language skills and seeking and retaining employment.
The project is now on its second intake of women.
How to judge the success of the project? Typically 50% of women who have been rescued from sex trafficking return to it as there is no aftercare, they don’t have any skills or knowledge to do anything else. The Government only funds 45 days accommodation while the traffickers are prosecuted. Support and aftercare is fundamental to this project. Of the initial three women, 1 one went back to Eastern Europe but two have made new lives else where in the UK.
A rewarding evening for Daniela and Nicola is when one of the ladies cooks them a meal and they sit down together to eat it and enjoy each others company. Nicola said this may seem a little thing to us, but for these women who have been traumatised this is a tremendous breakthrough and step forward.
The project does not receive any regular funding, the only income is from fund raising, or housing benefit. Nicola and Daniela are not paid for their work, they are on call or in the house most days.
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SI Gravesend Conference on Forced Marriage

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On International Women's Day. Soroptimists of Gravesend hosted a conference on Forced Marriage with keynote speaker Jasvinder Sanghera, author of the Shame books and founder of Kirma Nirvana. There was also a speaker from the Forced Marriage Unit and Valerie Boswell gave an update on the club's activities on raising awareness of human trafficking.
The Conference on March 8 went very well, with 80 plus in the audience including the mayor and several councillors from Gravesham BC.

Jasvinder Sanghera was a compelling speaker.