Hastings Sierra Leone Friendship Link

Minutes of latest ordinary general Link meeting

Hastings Sierra Leone friendship link

Minutes of the ordinary general meeting of 26th July 2018

Present: Liz MacKay, Edwin Rew, Richard & Christine Lane, Mandy Hinxman, Ray Keene, Isabel Hodger, Roger Mitchell, Martin Copland, Richard Homewood (chair), Eve Martin, Cllr. James Bacon, Robin Gray (minutes)


  1. Apologies: Paul Cabban, Cllr. Peter Pragnell, Cllr. Nigel Sinden, Jacqui Homewood, Lynne White, Braidie Paton, John Geater, Nola McSweeney
  2. Minutes of the meeting of 30th May: Accepted. No matters arising not covered by today’s agenda.
  3. Chairman’s Report: – It has not been possible yet to arrange a Sanitation Group meeting (Richard, Richard L, Derek & Robin). (The group will now meet this Friday 3rd August).                       – We are now receiving detailed accounts of income and expenditure for the TTC. We have now sent out money to cover the agreed improvements and should see progress soon.
  4. Treasurer’s Report: Martin presented the latest figures. Yvonne had raised the matter of letters of thanks not always being sent to donors.  This is partly a problem with MyDonate not being user-friendly, and partly because we don’t have a clear system. Martin will let Richard know the names and if possible contact details of donors, and Richard will write to thank them. Derek suggested a newsletter (twice-yearly?) that could be sent to show donors how the Link is spending its funds. Richard will look at that. The website is the obvious source of information about the Link, but Robin relies on material being fed to him. Richard and Isabel will ask teachers to let Robin have updates on their school’s Link-related activities.
  5. Schools Report: (See Annex A) Isabel reported that plans are in hand for 6 SL teachers to visit from 7th to 16th                                                                                     -The schools now have a safeguarding checklist, in particular for use when SL teachers are in our schools. This checklist is an adjunct to the Link’s general safeguarding policy, for which Richard had produced a draft earlier in the year, based on Build Africa’s policy. Roger and Isabel will suggest further changes to the main document to reflect the practical reality and cultural context of the Link exchanges. Richard suggested that it would be sensible to build a level of discretion into the wording of the text.                                                                                                                    Isabel and Mandy thoroughly recommend the TESSA material for teachers: see www.tessafrica.net.                                                                                                     There is good news, that Claverham School has now joined the consortium, linking with Huntingdon Allentown. Fiona Kemp, the teacher leading on this, has already established excellent contacts with the headteacher at Huntingdon.  The bad news is that the Brighton Academy has pulled all 5 of that academy’s Hastings schools out of the consortium, without any consultation. Roger and Isabel are going to see a senior member of the Brighton Academy on Wednesday 1st August, to protest. They have asked our teachers to provide evidence of the value of the work; and James will ask our Mayor and the Leader of the Council for supporting letters. Richard will write as chair of the Link. Richard L accessed the Brighton Academy’s ‘values and mission’ on-line, which state: It is important to us that our academies have a positive impact on their communities and that pupils understand the role they can play in the wider world.
  6. Health Report: (See Annex B) Christine reported that work on the roof has been held up by the rains, though Binta has bought in the materials (as a hedge against constant price rises in SL) and has stored them securely. Christine is pleased with the quality of the tiling that has been done in the maternity unit. The meeting agreed to her group’s request for a further £315 to pay for some minor issues in connection with improvements to the water supply that Binta has negotiated with the headman – but this is easily covered by the money already allocated (but not committed) to Health.  Christine feels that we should end up with a health centre of a comparable standard to the one at Waterloo. Her group has more supplies & equipment from the Conquest. As ever, the problem is how to ship it out. Roger has a certain amount of sports equipment and exercise books for the schools. Richard will ask Yvette for estimates of the cost of (a) a (part) container and (b) per cardboard box.
  7. Fundraising: (a) Wine-tasting. Probably the best ever, raising over £750.                                      (b) Music Quiz 21st Sept.  Arrangements are in hand. Richard will be Questionmaster again, Derek will run the scoreboard. Please encourage friends and neighbours to book a table through Robin (robin.gray1066@gmail.com or 01424 436603).                                             (c) Dinner-dance 3rd Nov:  We cannot get a confirmation from Liane Carroll, so it seems very unlikely that she will be available. Any ideas for a suitable headline act to Richard, please (richardhomewood@sky.com)- this is now urgent.                                                   (d) Other – Any suggestions for a Hastings Week or Christmas related event/concert? Roger will ask Sussex Brass if they could put on a concert in, say, May/June but avoiding half-term. Robin remembered a geologist offering, at the last Big Quiz, to give a fundraising talk. Robin will see if there is any possible mileage in this.
  8. (1) The London-based Hastings Association is looking to have its annual outing here on the second Saturday in August 2019. They ask if the Sussex Hall could be hired, and a formal recognition made at Mayoralty level of the association’s 25th anniversary.                            (2) Mandy reported that she and Corinne Harris (Dudley) are planning a joint IPC project on the Hastings-Hastings link.                                                                                    (3) The Link will join with LOAF at the Garden of Cultural Delights in St Leonards Gardens on 12th August (1-5pm).All welcome. Robin to liaise with Derek re pop-ups etc.
  9. Date of next meeting: Thursday 4th October at St Barnabas Church, Hoadswood Road, Hastings, at 6.15. Please note the venue! (We will look at the possibility of deciding on all the Link meeting dates for 2019 at our next meeting, as that would simplify booking a hall)



Annex A –  Education Report

Visiting teachers

Six teachers from Sierra Leone have been invited to visit this year accompanied by Francis Mason. The original plan was for them to arrive on 23rd June, however, because their visas were not issued, we had to postpone. They will now be visiting in October with the likely dates as arriving Sunday 7th October, and leaving Tuesday 16th October. We will be booking the flights during the next month, and will then confirm exact dates.

The following schools are involved.

Battle and Langton – Cordelia Sannah – Jui Lower

St Leonards Academy – Sylvanus Huggins – Huntingdon Secondary

Battle Abbey Senior School – Christiana Palmer – Kellys

Christchurch CE – Osman Kamara – Kankalay

All Saints CE and Dudley – Jo James Kaindo – Edest

Hollington- Serrah Conteh – Jui Upper

Soccer Tournament

Congratulations Roger on another very successful soccer tournament involving all but one of our primary schools, with both boys and girls competing. It was a great success for everyone, and thanks go to St Leonards Academy for hosting. Particular thanks go to Teresa Bennett and her students for running it so efficiently.

Safeguarding Check List

This is now complete and has been distributed to all schools.

British Council

We now know the next British Council Professional Partnerships programme will be run in conjunction with the Global Learning Programme and we should have information on that very soon. We await this programme eagerly and hope we will be able to access grants for a February 2019 visit.

Open University Course – Future Learn

Making Teacher Education Relevant for the 21st Century

At least 3 of the group did this course which was very useful and full of good ideas. Some activities will be included in the October workshop, and others in the February workshop next year. One extremely useful website recommended to us was TESSA (Teacher Educators in Sub Saharan Africa) which is full of wonderful lessons, ideas and case studies suitable for schools wherever they are. We will be recommending this site to all our schools.

Teacher Meetings

The date of the next Teachers Meeting is on Tuesday 25th September, 4pm at Christchurch School when we will be finalising arrangements for the October visit, and hopefully discussing the new British Council project.

Annex B: Health Group Report

The Sub-Committee itself has not met since the last General Meeting but I have met with both Derek and Ray to check the work progress and Binta’s Report on how the funds (£2,500) which Martin sent via Western Union have been expended.

Ray’s Report of our meeting –

To confirm our discussion on Monday we checked over the figures supplied by Binta and came to the following conclusion:

The original estimated costs at the prevailing exchange rate of 10760 Leones to £1 was for Le 29,910,000  equivalent £2780. This included repair only to the roof.

Additional cost of roof replacement instead of repair Le 22,165,000 Equivalent £2060 plus Generator repair cost Le 1,100,000 Equivalent £102  Extra costs Le 23,265,000 Equivalent £2162

Total costs now Le 53,175,000 Equivalent £4942

Already sent to Binta £2.500. Spent on supplies, generator repair and tiling Le 23,090,000 Equivalent £2146.

Still to be funded Le 30,085,000 Equivalent £2796

If the costs are within the totals advised by Binta it seems we could send £3000 which would leave a small kitty for miscellaneous expenses.

As the heavy rains started on the day the money arrived, Binta felt it was inadvisable to start the work on the new roof (over the original part of the building and which we felt was better to replace than repair).  However, she did purchase the materials as prices in Sierra Leone are rising rapidly and work on the roof will commence when the rainy season has passed.

I am pleased to report that she has negotiated with the community to connect the Health Centre to the water dam since the centre normally has water challenges during the dry season.  The Headman sent an engineer to the centre and I have agreed (having spoken first to Derek) that she could use some of the money to pay for the items needed for the connection and for a few repairs inside the centre. They will then have the backup of the borehole and tank. The sum required for this work comes to approximately £315 and it would be helpful if this sum could be added to the amount agreed for the repairs to the Health Centre.

There is still much to do but the work is progressing and Binta and her Colleagues are very pleased and grateful for the help that HSLFL are giving.

The chairs that had been sent for the Health Centre eventually arrived at their destination.  Binta gave 14 of the small chairs to Hastings REC School.

CBL  22/7/18