Hastings Sierra Leone Friendship Link

Minutes of Link meeting of 5th April 2017

Minutes of Ordinary General Meeting – 5th April 2017

Present: John Geater, Bill & Eileen Evans, Ray Keene, Liz MacKay, Eve Martin, Lynn White, Nola McSweeney, Roger Mitchell, Isabel Hodger, Paul Caban, Richard Homewood (chair), Derek Tomblin, Martin Copland, Christine & Richard Lane, Edwin Rew, Cllr Nigel Sinden (items 9 onwards), Robin Gray (minutes)

  • 1 Apologies for absence: Peter & Wenche Georgiadis, Peter Pragnell, James Bacon, Jacqui Homewood
  • 2 Minutes of ordinary meeting of 25th Jan 2017:8(iv) Robin reported that he had bought a handsome camellia shrub, on behalf of the Link, to thank Dain Jensen for his support and to wish him a speedy recovery. Nola had kindly delivered the plant, and Dain was very pleased. The minutes were approved.
  • 3 Chairman’s Report: Richard commented on the excellent articles that have appeared in the press recently, covering the 10th Anniversary of the twinning organised by Michael as High Sheriff, and the February trip. He has no news of the twinning road sign yet – Kevin will chase this.                 The Trustees have met to discuss, in particular, the situation concerning the management of the Twin Town Centre. Yvonne & Yvette had written setting out what they thought the priorities are, including a fire escape, repairs to the plumbing, redecorating, and a replacement generator. Roger confirmed that the Library, at least, is being used. It is administered by Mr Franklyn Newstead, at the moment on a voluntary basis, though understandably Mr Newstead would appreciate some financial recognition for the work he is doing.  Christine’s experience was that the function room was being used regularly but that any money generated from lettings is treated as petty cash to pay for the centre’s immediate needs, rather than being formally accounted for.   Richard has written to the London Association stating our position: we will consider funding a new generator, to be housed in a building outside the centre itself for health & safety reasons; but we cannot put more money into the centre until there is a proper management structure and accounting system in place.
  • 4 Treasurer’s Report. Martin presented the current figures. In addition, a member of the Church of the Good Shepherd congregation has offered to donate £1000 towards the alleviation of food poverty. Richard will contact this gentleman to ask exactly how he would like this money to be handled. Eve suggested that it would be even better if the donor were able to gift aid the donation.
    • 5 Schools Report. Roger reported that the commitment of two of our schools seems in doubt, but Battle & Langton School and Battle Abbey School are interested in joining our consortium.                                In February, teachers from 5 schools had been enthusiastically received in schools in Hastings SL. Isabel had laid on a maths workshop, and intends to develop this idea when the SL teachers are here in May. Roger gave details of the travel arrangements. He has not booked the flights, because the necessary visas have not been issued yet. As tickets are not refundable, the timing represents a tricky balance: it was agreed he should wait another week before booking the flights. The programme for the teachers’ visit will include the football tournament (11 schools taking part) on Wed 24th, and farewell event on Fri 26th at St Matthew’s. If teachers have an outing to Rye, that could be combined with unveiling of new twinning sign on Rye Road.                                                                                 Isabel outlined recent progress within the framework of the updated Education section of the Strategy concerning training and sanitation. She is developing contacts in these areas through the head of UNICEF in SL. When Isabel and Roger visited schools, they found a very encouraging impact on classrooms as teachers are cascading what they had learnt in workshops. Roger & Isabel will be organising a day here in May with two workshops, one for English, one for maths. Letitia Huggins will be coming specifically to look for maths-teaching ideas to take back. Isabel is looking at the work of UNICEF and World Vision to see how what we are doing fits in with the work of NGOs in SL.  On sanitation, we know we must work with the Ministry of Education, Science & Technology. We have the name of someone recommended by UNICEF who could survey the schools for us, assess water and sanitation needs. UNICEF might even be able to help us with construction phase. Edwin recommended following articles from SL to which automatic links appear on our website.                                                   On the May 26th farewell event, Roger said there would not be space for schools to dance at St Matthew’s. He will now confirm Sussex Brass and church bookings. Not a ticket event, but we’ll ask for donations. The Mayor will attend (and Deputy Mayor will attend football tournament). It was agreed that we would not be able to take up Rev Charlie Hill’s kind invitation to hold a service at Blacklands Church, but Paul assured us that any SL teachers would be warmly welcomed for the normal Sunday service if free, especially since the church would like to be involved with the Link’s work.
  • 6 Health Report. Christine’s two reports (from her February and March visits) are attached as Appendices A & B. She reported that providing curtains for the Health Centre has been postponed. There is still a sporadic problem with the water supply. Derek will look into this. The PRIME workshop at the TTC was a success. The Health Working Group will be updating their section of the Strategy. CHO Binta Bah has given Christine a list of drugs that are needed – the HWG will look at the costings, which may include a small amount for transport.
    • 7 Fundraising events. (a) Concert May 26th at St Matthew’s – see above                                                    (b) Wine tasting. July 22nd at St Paul’s School. Lynn is organising this with Ted Bacon. Likely cost: £25. This event is likely to be very popular, though will be limited to about 30 people.                                          (c) Music Quiz. 15th Lesley-Ann is happy to organise this. The new computer should mean no more AV disasters.                                                                                                                                                                         (d) Event in St Mary-in-the-Castle, October 14th. Various musical groups were suggested: Loose Ends Untied, Sure Sounds, Hastings Town Singers. Nola will ask her contacts if Jo Brand would appear for us – such a headline act would guarantee a big turn-out. We will ask Yvonne and her team if they would be able to provide an African buffet supper.                                                                                                                    (e) Peter Georgiadis has suggested Jeff Hutchinson, the popular local raconteur who specialises in monologues ‘in character’. It was agreed that we ask Peter to discuss with Jeff exactly what sort of evening he has in mind.
  •    8 AOB (a) Christine & Roger to continue to work with Richard to supply the press with material.                                (b) Hastings Athletic Club is willing to support the athletics club in Hastings SL.                                                    (c) Richard was congratulated on the quality of the new pop-ups, which he said were extremely good value at about £130 for the 3, which he is happy to treat as a donation to the Link.                                                                 (d) The October 14th event should be given publicity in the Hastings Town magazine as well as in the official Hastings Week brochure.                                                                                                                                                        (e) John reported that on June 4th there will be a jazz event at Concordia Hall to raise money for Christian youth work in Hastings SL.                                                                                                                                                        (f) Nigel passed round two albums of photos recording his experience of the February trip, including a number of top-level political contacts which we hope will prove useful.
  • 9 Dates and venues of meetings. We will not attempt to hold the AGM on the same day as the football tournament again. The problems with parking and access to the 5th floor at Muriel Matters House are such that we are looking for a different venue for ordinary meetings. It was agreed to hold the next OGM/AGM on Thursday 15th June at St Helen’s Church parish hall (Derek to arrange) unless Edwin can secure the West Hill Community Centre for a Wednesday (our normal day for meetings).

Appendix A

Hastings Health Centre Visit February 2017

I was tasked with organising the completion of the Laboratory/Pharmacy including the plumbing;  the redirection of the flood water which had not only flooded the house next door but caused water to lie within the Health Centre compound;  the provision of the curtaining.

Since our visit in 2016, the maternity extension had been finished and was in use.  This had been started by CHO Sallu Lansana with Performance based funding and completed with money from HSLFL.  There were a number of things that could be improved upon but it was fulfilling the purpose   for which it was intended. This Performance based funding from the World Bank has ceased and now there appears to be no money for running/maintenance costs for the Health Centre.

In previous years I had visited the Reverend Doctor Samba  as DMO to check that he was happy with what HSLFL were doing at the Health Centre. He always said ‘yes’ and told me  that there was no money for them to spend on the facility  and for us to carry on.   However, Hastings Health Centre now forms part of the Waterloo District and a new DMO, Doctor Kwame O’Neill, had been appointed.

CHO Sallu Lansana is now working in the District with other Health Centres and  in the outlying areas although he was at Hastings during my visit.  CHO Binta Bah whom I had met previously is now taking charge of the running of the Centre together with Sister Marvel who is in charge of the Maternity Unit.  Both are delightful to work with.  Binta  Bah  together with her Staff had worked out how to divert the flood water and whilst I was there we obtained a quotation for block culverts to be built under the wall where the problem had arisen through the rear of the Health Centre grounds and under the opposite wall into the natural drainage ditch.  Unfortunately part of the ditch had been unofficially filled in and we sought the help of the Deputy Head man to have it cleared.  The water would then run under the bridge over the road and to the rear of the ground of Hastings REC School – where it always drained.    This was with the blessing of Sylvanus Campbell.  The cost was approximately 19,050.000 (£2,070).   The cost of the Carpenter’s work to complete the Laboratory and Pharmacy was 3,950.000 (£435) plus 500,000 (£60)  for a new door to the TB/Aids consulting room {the original doors are of such bad quality this one was in a dangerous condition}  and the Plumber’s costs  1,203.000 (£130)  I left a further £200 for contingencies and have brought home £600.  This is from the total of £3,500 which I took with me.  It was hoped to use the £600 when I return in March to further progress the existing works and also to arrange the repair of the electric sockets in the waiting area which have been damaged.

On the Friday before we left there was a meeting with members of the Waterloo Council and Dr. O’Neill.  I was told that they now wished to oversee any work that we were involved in and that the Council would provide an Engineer to check the work.  One of their objections were that there were not enough wall  tiles in the maternity extension. However, I was assured by Nigel Sinden who had been with the Council during the week that the Inspections would be done with no cost to ourselves.  CHO Binta Bah has told me that the Engineer has visited regarding the water diversion and wanted  it done in a different way which she believes will be more expensive.

The Council also wished to know of everything that was sent to the Health Centre so that it would be listed in their ‘assets’.  In fact, my understanding is that they would wish everything to be sent to them – although this may not be the case.

My oversight of things at the Health Centre was good.  Busy Clinics, Sallu Lansana organising the outreach Polio Campaign for many areas together with the bed nets campaign which can deliver up to three nets per family.  I was given a list of items needed by the Maternity nurses.

Since my last visit a very small block building has been erected at the front of the Health Centre by UNFPA It is very small and it was felt that it would be more suitable for the TB Patients.   This would alleviate the problem of coughing patients sitting in the same area as the new born babies who are vulnerable to disease.  Another room could be used for Family Planning which is high on their Agenda.

Knitted items were delivered to the Health Centre although there are more to be sent.  They are always so grateful for these as they are for all the other things which we are able to supply.

Dr. Taylor had agreed to set up the Scanner during my visit but unfortunately he was called away.  However, Binta  told me that he came on the day we arrived home and that it is now in use.  I have asked for photographs.

One of the needs for the Cleaner/Maintenance man is a mountain bike.  Ideally he would like something with an engine but a bike would suffice for the many times he is expected to go and buy/collect things.

The borehole had been operating with no problems – until my second day when the water dried up.  This was the case throughout our part of the village.   By the the time I left they were able to get a few buckets of water and   did have the plumber replace a small part but to no avail.

Since my return I have received via UKSLHP a document from the Government of Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Chief Medical Officer, that the Directorate of Drugs and Medical Supplies be informed beforehand so that those partners can be directed as to the necessary protocols to follow and help to strengthen Sierra Leone’s health systems.  The HSLFL sub-Committee have accepted the new arrangements and will undertake to complete the necessary forms and submit them when we are in a position to supply items for the Health Centre.  It has also been noted that two new Health Facilities have been opened in the environs of Hastings.  These are privately owned but have an arrangement with the Government.

CBL – 25.2.17


Appendix B


This visit was primarily arranged in order that I could facilitate a Prime Workshop at the Twin Town Centre for some of the Staff at the Health Centre together with those from nearby facilities and Hospitals in Freetown.  I am pleased to report that the response from our own Staff, including CHO Sallu Lansana (who now works for the wider District ) and in particular CHO Binta Bah was excellent and I am hopeful that the work done during the two days will be passed on to those who were unable to attend.

Most of my time was centred around the Health Centre.  I am pleased to report that the work to the Pharmacy and Laboratory is nearly completed and I have been informed by Binta that the MofH should be providing the equipment for the Laboratory.  There was a small increase in the price for the carpentry and Binta also requested funding for paint for that area so it would be ready to be used in the near future.

Work to the flood prevention scheme was allowed to continue in the form that we had first agreed after an inspection by the Council’s Engineer.  It does however require further expenditure (shown  below) to widen the entrance and exit runs at either side by the wall.  The workman are doing this extra work now and await the further funding which will be used to pay for the blocks that cover structure across the Health Centre land.  It was felt more important to get the smooth running of the water in place before the rainy season before completing with the covers

The electrician had called in my absence and will repair the damaged sockets and other remedial work.  (price shown below).

I had returned with £660 left from the funding taken in February.

SL Leones

Extra work to the flood defence                     11,900,000

Carpenter                                                             700,000

Paint                                                                     630,000

Electrician                                                            350,000

____________                        13,580,000

Balance of £660                                                                                                5,800.00


Balance requested to complete the work                  7,780.000   (£769.62)

I will be meeting with the Health Sub Committee on 10th April at which time we will be compiling a list of items that have been requested by the Health Centre and would hope that funding would be forthcoming to purchase and send via Rokel to the Ministry of Health to be noted and forwarded to the Health Facility in Hastings.  This is at the request of the Ministry of Health who wish to bring into line all Hospitals and Health Facilities.  It has also been requested that any building works should be approved by the local Council at Waterloo.

During my visit I met the new DMO, Dr.James Squire at the District Offices of the Health Ministry in Waterloo. He had only recently taken over from the previous new DMO, Dr. O’Neil, whom I had met in February.   Dr. Squire was unable to attend the Prime Workshop.  He was however happy to endorse it.


I did visit the local Council Offices at Waterloo but none of the contacts made in February were available but I did spend time with the Finance Officer who was interested in what the Link had achieved over the years.

I had been asked by Robin to give to someone who needed it a solar reading light in order that homework/study could  be done when there was no NPA available.  I was fortunate to meet Chardna Coker who has just started a seven year medical training course.  She is the daughter of Frederick Ridgecaux-Coker who helped Derek with the erection of the Loaf Bridges at the onset of our involvement with the village.  She was extremely grateful to receive it and will keep us informed regarding it use.








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