Hastings Sierra Leone Friendship Link
Annual General Meeting 11th May 2019
St Helen’s Church Hall
Present: Richard Homewood (chair), Eileen and Bill Evans, Asif Khan, Adele and Edwin Rew, Christine Boulton-Lane, Richard Lane, Lynn White, Isabel Hodger, Roger Mitchell, David Lewis, Paul Cabban, Liz MacKay, Rosemary & Michael Foster, Robin Gray (minutes)
- Apologies for absence: Nola McSweeney, Braidie Paton, Mandy Hinxman, Martin Copland, Cllr Nigel Sinden, Cllr James Bacon, Derek Tomblin, Anne Brooks, Jason Morton, John Geater, Jacqui Homewood, Ray Keene
- Minutes of the 2018 AGM and matters arising. Unfortunately, the Secretary had forgotten to include those minutes in the papers for this meeting. However, they were circulated at the time and no objections were raised, so the meeting kindly agreed to accept them on that understanding.
- (a) Chairman’s Report. (For the full report, click hereAGM 2019 Chairman’s Report.) Richard underlined some of the key points:
- Thanks to Christine, it seems that we are on the way to improving our relationship with the Head Man.
- The schools partnerships are thriving, in spite of the Brighton Academy pulling its 5 schools out of the consortium. He noted with satisfaction that a large group (20 to 25) will be going out to SL next year.
- Fundraising is going well, but we need to be sure that we are using the money sustainably.
- It is alleged that the TTC is not fit for purpose. Changes will have to be made if the building is to generate the necessary income. We cannot continue to pour money into the TTC, so we must have serious discussions with the Hastings Association (UK) and the committee in Hastings SL, before next February.
- Richard thanked HBC for the support they have given in the past. We understand HBC’s financial difficulties.
- Looking to the future, Richard wondered how can best sustain our membership numbers, especially in the light of the fact that most of us are getting significantly older. He said we need to dust off and update the Strategy document and adapt the safeguarding policy to make sure it fits our needs.
(b). Yvette’s report on her February trip. See Appendix A, below. Yvette gives an interesting account of the TTC and its management, highlighting the key problems. Roger pointed out that the TTC was designed in accordance with the desires of the then Head Man, Joshua Douglass. Others, since his death, have had their own priorities.
- Treasurer’s Report. Attendees were issued with the Treasurer’s annual statement of accounts. Martin was unable to present his annual accounts in person, but had discussed them in detail with the Trustees on the previous day. No questions were raised at the AGM.
- Schools Report: For Isabel’s full report, click here AGM Report Education 2019. At the AGM, Isabel highlighted the main trends of the past year.
- Although we lost 5 schools when the Brighton Academy pulled out, we have managed to replace all but one of them.
- We welcomed 6 SL teachers and Francis Mason in October 2018 for a very successful visit. It was not possible to run a teachers’ visit to SL in February 2019, but a small Link group did go out, with Kris Cymer of Claverham setting up a solar panel and laptop at Huntingdon School, Jui, and training teachers how to best use IT in lessons. Isabel ran workshops. We have since had reports that teachers are continuing to make good use of the IT equipment.
- The British Council has changed the way its travel grants work. Schools now apply as ‘clusters’ each with a lead school and a lead teacher. Applications entail a huge amount of work for the lead teachers, Mandy Hinxman and Faith Rew, but both clusters have been successful for 2020.
- Schools have to be involved in projects. Our schools in both towns are running Zero Waste projects, including community activities (at 3.45 on 21st May: a beach clean-up in Bexhill & Hastings, a street clean-up min Battle).
- See the full report for details of the hoped-for visit from SL teachers in June 2019.
Roger reported that the soccer tournament will take place at the Bulverhythe grounds on Tuesday June 11th. All are welcome to support the event.
Michael Foster told us that he has submitted a Freedom of Information request, to find out what exactly was the rationale behind the Brighton Academy pulling its schools out in spite of its proclaimed commitment to ‘global education’. Lynn was surprised to hear that Little Ridge could not find a teacher willing to organise a partnership. Roger has not entirely lost hope of involving Ark William Parker.
- Health Report: See Appendix B (below) for Christine’s full report, with some photos. Christine highlighted some achievements of the last year:
- The Link has continued to provide repair and remedial work on the Health Centre building, including major work on the roof.
- The microscope is now set up and in use. Christine is working with the MoH to get training organised for the scanner.
- The knitted goods made by the Link’s supporters are much appreciated, and are sometimes used as an encouragement for mothers to bring their babies back in for immunisation sessions.
She expressed satisfaction at having been able to bring Kainde Pearce and the Head Man together, and hopes that this will lead to some really positive outcomes. She notes, however, that the gates to the Health Centre have been damaged, and some financial support from the link may be needed to repair them.
- Sanitation Project (Richard Lane): Richard found in February that the survey we had had carried out was in fact very accurate. We now know that schools, churches and mosques in Hastings have a right to be connected to the mains water supply, for a modest connection cost. The Trustees have agreed to pay for Kankaylay and Hastings REC to be connected, and we have a quote for a more detailed scheme of work at St Mulumba.
A number of the schools have wells that were dug by Plan International as a response to the Ebola crisis. Unfortunately, they were not deep enough. Isabel is in contact with Plan International, and is waiting to hear if they will undertake to improve these wells.
Jui Lower has no water supply since the Chinese moved the school to make way for the new road. We are waiting for a quote from Welthungerhilfe, an NGO working on sanitation in the area, and a hoping that they may fund, or part-fund, the operation.
- Membership Report: Bill Evans. We have 26 paid-up members, with a few names for Bill to chase. If you intend to take up or renew membership this year (- it’s only £5 and is a useful source of income for the Link-), please contact Bill on email@example.com or 01424 427265. (Postal address for cheques: 15 Vicarage Rd, Hastings TN34 3LZ.)
- Election of Officers: There were no new nominations, and the existing officers were prepared to continue to serve. Paul Cabban proposed, with Edwin Rew seconding, that the executive team be re-elected en bloc. This was carried nem con.
- AOB: (a) Richard reminded the meeting of the dates of forthcoming events:
- The Sussex Brass fundraising concert at St Matthew’s Church at 7pm on Friday 24th. We understand Yvonne and her team will be providing light refreshments. Tickets are available on-line on the Link’s website, or from Robin Gray (01424 436603) or at the door.
- The schools football tournament at the Bulverhythe grounds in the afternoon of Tuesday 11th
- The wine-tasting evening run by Ted Bacon on 13th July at 7pm at St Paul’s School. Tickets should be booked in advance from Lynn White on 01424 853356 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- The annual music quiz will take place at St Paul’s School on Friday 20th Details to be announced.
(b) Robin noted that BT MyDonate will cease to operate from June. Anyone wishing to donate to the Link, whether regularly or occasionally, should look for the new arrangements which are now on the ‘Support us and Donate’ page of our website.
- Dates of next meetings: These had already been published: July 25th, Sept 19th, Nov 21st. All at St Barnabas Church at 7pm.
Appendix A: Yvette’s Report on her trip to Hastings SL
TRIP TO FREETOWN SIERRA LEONE IN FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019
I left London on Monday 25th February by Brussels Airline to get a connecting flight from Brussels to Freetown. Unfortunately just before boarding it was realised that the connecting flight had got a dent on one of the wings; the flight was therefore cancelled, and we were put in a hotel for the night. I travelled to Freetown on the next day which gave me the opportunity to meet with the Isabel, Chris, Christine and Richard who arrived on Air France at Lungi about an hour after Brussels Airline. We all then travelled to Freetown where we were met by Francis at the Pelican to take Isabel and others to Hastings, as I spent the night in Freetown and travelled to Hastings the next day after visiting some family members and collecting our local currency which I had arranged prior to our trip.
Apart from the busy schedules that everyone had during the visit, the group was able to arrange a meeting with Helen and Rachel of Act-on-It to exchange their views on educational programmes.
We also had some fun time visiting Bureh Beach with Francis Mason and the teachers, not forgetting the evening meal at Wilberforce with Alex Gilchrist and also the meal at Cecil Coker’s house in Hastings.
We should obviously not forget the “Cleaning Day” exercise undertaken by the group especially Christine who tried to educate the village people about the essence of cleaning.
GENERAL OBSERVATION OF THE HTTC
This time I must say that there was vast improvement in the building
- The compound had been cleared of all broken furniture and rubbles
- The bakery house had been demolished and the site cleared of all rubbles
- The watchman post had been built
- The library was tidy
- The bath, shower and toilets all have running water including the outside tap.
- All the chairs were neatly stored in the empty room that housed the generator
- Mr Frederick was in charge of the day to day running of the Centre, but he failed to inform the executors and other members of the Association of the ins and outs of the Centre, thereby bringing some conflict among members.
- Meetings were not called on regular basis
- The library was very much under-used, despite the fact that the schools have been informed that the library was opened regularly. Instead some of the schools had asked for a mobile library
- The late Mr Victor Campbell’s nephew had donated some ceiling fans to the Association; these were still in boxes waiting to be installed
- Very few fund-raising activities were held.
REQUIREMENTS AT THE CENTRE
- Generator (money already provided by Friendship Link)
- Public Address System (money already provided by Friendship Link)
- Painting of the building (inside and outside)
- Completion of the unfinished downstairs room
In conclusion, I believe that there is some improvement in the HTTC. The Centre seems to be rented out more often than before including the arrangement by Act-on-It to hire the Centre on a regular monthly basis for 6 months and beyond while they set up the teacher training programme for unqualified teachers in 15 schools around the Rural Area.
Hastings Village will continue to be grateful for the help given to them by Friendship Link.
Long live Hastings Friendship Link and Long live Hastings Association (UK) and (SL).
Sierra Leone Hastings Association
Appendix B: Christine’s Health Working Group Report
REPORT OF THE HEALTH CENTRE SUB-COMMITTEE to the Annual General Meeting May 2019
Over the past year the sub-Committee has continued to meet regularly to consider the ongoing improvements with which the Link has been able to assist at the Health Centre. Since the last AGM, the roof of the original section of the Health Centre has been replaced; the maternity wards painted and tiled; doors replaced; the generator repaired and the water supply improved. CHO Binta Bah had taken the decision to purchase the materials and store them before a predicted price rise, which had helped keep the costs down.
I am pleased to report that the scanner which was provided by Dr. Chris Chinnery is now in use but the District Medical Officer has agreed with me to source training for more members of staff in its use.
The goods we had dispatched to Hastings were awaiting my arrival in February and these were gratefully received. Sadly, during this visit, I only met with Binta for a short period as she was away from the facility but we did discuss her ideas for the future and on which we are now awaiting news from the DMO. This includes extending the redundant building which has never been used so that it can provide accommodation for both TB patients and Family Planning. I did, during my visit in February, have a useful meeting with the DMO who agreed to look into the situation with electricity bills being presented as payable by the Health Centre. Binta and I did discuss the possibility of the installation of solar panels should this become necessary and Alex Gilchrist – whose Company has been used at one of our Link Schools agreed to supply a quote should this become necessary and I am hopeful the Link would provide the necessary funding for this.
This has been a year of progressive repairs and refurbishment at the Health Centre for which the Link has been able to provide funding. It is appreciated both locally and by the Ministry as funding would not have been forthcoming from them to do this work.
I have recently been sent photographs from Binta showing the long awaited microscope being handed over – you may remember that we had included a Laboratory in the previous extension we had undertaken at the Health Centre and this is now operational.
Also included were photographs of the chairs which a few years ago had been at use in the Conquest Hospital and which we had sent for use in the Health Centre. Unfortunately, they did not last very long as they were based in foam and covered with material which obviously had already reached its sell by date here. However, we discussed possible remedial works and I am pleased to report we now have superior chairs with washable covers, far more suitable to a facility of this type. Sadly, I have received a message that the metal gates to the Health Centre have been damaged. It is essential for security that they are in working order and if may be that I will be requesting funding for their repair in the near future
I cannot end my report for 2018/2019 without thanking my amazing Team of Lizzy, Edwin, Derek, Ray, Melanie, Chris, John and Eve – all of whose input is invaluable.
CBL – 11.5.19AGM Health Report 2019 pictures