Hastings Sierra Leone Friendship link
Minutes of the Ordinary General Meeting of 25th Jan 2018
Present: Richard & Christine Lane, Ray Keene, Lynn White, Paul Cabban, Derek Tomblin, Richard Homewood (chair), Martin Copland, Bill & Eileen Evans, Isabel Hodger, Roger Mitchell, Robin Gray (minutes)
- Apologies for absence: Cllrs Sinden & Bacon, Eve Martin, Nola McSweeney, Liz MacKay, Edwin Rew, Janet Jarvis, John Geater, Jacqui Homewood
- Minutes of the meeting of 22nd Nov 2017 and matters arising: 4: Dane has not yet said if he wishes to become a Trustee – but we are aware of his many commitments. The minutes were accepted.
- Chairman’s Report: Richard will write to congratulate Mr Abdul Sesay, who has been re-elected as Headman, and to express our keenness to work more closely with him in the future. The TTC: Richard showed the meeting a batch of photos sent by Yvette. The new door has now been installed for safe exit from the accommodation area. There is no picture of the enlarged window, but the meeting doubted that it is in fact necessary as an escape route. A new, bigger pump and pipework have been installed, to pump water from a new ground-level water tank (donated by the Headman) up to the tank on the roof. Christine will ascertain whether the water pressure problems have been solved. Yvonne reports that the generator is not worth repairing. We are asked to fund a replacement. Where would it be housed? – It must be kept outside the main building. Richard will ask for a breakdown of what has been spent of the £2k we have already provided. The CoGS donation: See Annexe A “Use of remaining CoGS donations”, in which Richard sets out the rationale for supporting two further charities in addition to Build on Books, and the work of the two additional charities is described. The meeting agreed that Yvonne, who is going to SL shortly, should take the money (over £3k of CoGS funds plus £1k donated by a Good Shepherd parishioner specifically for food aid) and distribute it to organisations working on the ground, having looked at the work being done by CESO, Don Bosco Fambul and Build on Books. We will ask her to bring back as much photographic evidence as possible, including of people wearing Link t-shirts.
- Treasurer’s Report: Martin presented figures for income and expenditure since our last meeting. Most of those going on the February trip have paid the £600 deposit (which more or less covers the costs of flight and visa). The principal items of expenditure include expenses from the autumn teachers’ visit, the flights this February, the visas, a batch of the new polo shirts, the £2k for repairs at the TTC, a £200 deposit for the Bannatyne dinner-dance and Francis Mason’s honorarium.
- Schools Report: See Annexe B for details of the February trip. Roger and Isabel are confident that the programme for the February visit is a good one. It will include another of Isabel’s maths workshops. The meeting agreed that the Link should pay for the new embroidered polo-shirts for the teachers. Much useful publicity and interest is engendered if the party wear them during the journey out and back. Isabel is sending a photo of the group to the Observer. Edwin had written to suggest that we maximise publicity by involving not only the press but also TV and local radio both before and after the visit. Christine reported that she meets individual parents enthusiastic about their child’s awareness of the Link’s work. She suggested that if we get the PTAs in our schools interested, it may encourage them to get involved in supporting the Link’s educational work. With regard to the possibility of schools inviting an SL teacher back in the summer term, the meeting agreed to fund up to 7 teachers up to £600 each to make this possible. Roger reported that a date for the football tournament has now been fixed: Thursday 28th June, when the SL teachers are here.The schools sanitation survey: Isabel has found it very difficult to get the local authority’s engineer to complete the survey* that we have been requesting for months. She understands that he has visited most of the schools. She will go on trying to put pressure on him to complete the task. Once we know the magnitude of the need, we can start to raise awareness and funds. (*The very detailed survey has now been received.)
- Health Report. Please see Annexe C. Christine is keen that we should maintain a continued presence in the life of the Health Centre. Christine’s group continues to amass useful materials, from knitwear and teddies to surplus medical supplies from the Conquest. [Similarly, Paul has a large quantity of running kit donated by Hastings Runners and 60 new pairs of children’s espadrilles donated by Laton Ash Dance Centre. Lynn reports that Superstitch is offering us surplus stock, too, and St Paul’s School has furniture. It is a perennial problem for the Link, balancing the value of items against the cost of shipping. Those with access to surplus goods are asked to let Roger know what volume they represent, so that we can decide if it is practicable to organise shipping, say, a half container. Roger will ask the schools what they may have to pass on. The meeting felt that sharing a container with, say, Hull or Crosby would be fraught with problems of security and distribution at the other end.] Please note the request from Binta Bah, who has taken over from Sallu Lansana, for a laptop. If anyone can help with this, they should contact Christine on firstname.lastname@example.org .
- Fundraising Events: (a) Orange quiz sheets. It looks as though we will clear over £550, with help from a related donation of £50 from Brian Tomblin. (b) Big Quiz Night on March 2nd at Ark William Parker Academy, Parkstone Road. Martin and Ray decided to try a new way of collecting entrance fees from the quizzers: they will be told as they enter the hall that the money will be collected from team captains during the interval. Lynn kindly agreed to organise the raffle. Please contact Lynn (email@example.com) with offers of raffle prizes. (c) Other events (i) The fashion show. Lynn is concerned that it would be too embarrassing if we booked St Mary in the Castle and then the event fell through. A school hall like St Paul’s would be more appropriate. However, although Lorraine Roberts had expressed enthusiasm, Lynn has heard nothing for a while and assumes that the idea is dead in the water, at least for this year. (ii) Dinner-dance on November 3rd at Bannatynes. It is very likely that The Kytes can appear. Lynn is not sure about Liane Carroll. The new 2018 menu will be announced next week. The raffle at such an event needs major prizes. We are all asked to contact potential providers – local shops and businesses etc – for generous donations whether in cash or in kind (iii) Wine tasting evening. Of the dates provisionally offered by Ted Bacon that would also suit St Paul’s, the meeting chose 14th To be confirmed. (iv) Music Quiz. Of the dates suggested by Lesley-Ann, it looks as if 21st September will suit St Paul’s best. Again, t.b.c.
- Any Other Business: (i) Derek reported that the Unity Service went well and useful contacts were made. A charity called Tools with a Mission would be happy to provide refurbished tools for Hastings SL (and even pay for shipping), if we can confirm that there would be someone in the village responsible for ensuring the tools are properly distributed and put to good use. Robin to discuss details with TWAM. (ii) Roger reminded us about the Valentine’s Day Dinner Dance organised by the London Association on 17th Anyone going from Hastings should tell Robin, so that he can let Yvonne know about numbers, and so that transport or car-sharing can be organised if required.
- Date of Next Meeting: It was decided to make our next meeting our AGM. The meeting chose Saturday 24th March – to be confirmed once Richard has been able to discuss this with Yvette & Yvonne.
Annexe A: Use of remaining CoGS donations
Following further discussions with Yvonne and Yvette, they have been in contact with two organisations who have been working with mudslide victims. They have indicated that the Church of the Good Shepherd would wish to support these two organisations using some of the funds remaining from their donation to the Link.
Yvonne is visiting with the party in February and the suggestion is that she take the balance of funding with her and arrange to visit these two charities, assess their work and then make a donation from those funds to each based on the work they are doing. In terms of building sustainable futures I am particularly attracted by the idea of helping children through school with the knock-on effect of some of the money going toward teachers’ pay and thus circulating in the local economy.
I would also hope that Yvonne would be able to link up with Lori’s Build on Books team to review what they have achieved and decide whether further funds should be provided for their work.
Richard Homewood, Chairman HSLFL
Potential beneficiaries of CoGS donations
- Community Empowerment Support Organisation (CESO)
This is a registered in England and Wales and also in Sierra Leone as an NGO. We are a small Community Based Organisation providing Education and Community Projects for underprivileged families.
During the disaster, the Kaningo youth worked tirelessly in removing about 50 bodies from the floods. The sad event created unrest and a chaotic atmosphere for many victims including serious damage to their homes. Some people are not displaced but have been seriously affected by the floods which have damaged their homes/or assets.
Most of the local women who were earning their livelihood through their vegetable allotments in the stream areas are seriously affected as they cannot support their families because the flooding has destroyed all they have worked so hard for over the years. This led them to not being able to afford fees to send their children to school and that had a knock-on effect with teachers not being paid.
Our charity has helped some children return to school but there are lots more in the area that need help, both primary and secondary school children. So far, we have offered help to 75 secondary school aged children and 42 primary school aged children. Parents pay fees for their children to attend school in order to be able to pay teachers, as we don’t receive any help from the Government. Fees for secondary school are about £13 (Le130,000) per term and for primary school about £9.50 (Le100,000) per term.
If funds are available, we would like to help more children with fees but also provide them with food, uniforms, shoes, bags and stationery, and also help teachers with their salaries. If possible, we would like to support children in the community by preparing them for their May 2018 exams.
Community Empowerment Support Organisation (CESO), Charity nº 1133130
- Don Bosco Fambul
Mission: The protection, rehabilitation, family reunification and reintegration into society of children and young people, victims of the most serious violations of their rights in Freetown.
Vision: Our action is conceived from a holistic perspective. We involve in our work all the actors responsible for the child’s protection: family, authorities and the community. Also, our educational and healing action takes into account all dimensions of the person: corporal, intellectual, emotional and spiritual, according with the Don Bosco preventive system.
Core values: Openness, acceptance, transparency, respecxt, honesty, accountability, optimism, creativity and co-responsibility.
Don Bosco Fambul
32-34 Fort Street, Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Annexe B: Education Report
Preparations are well advanced for the visit to Sierra Leone between the 9th and 19th of February.
The Party of 16 is as follows:
Richard and Christine Lane
Emma Hughes and Laura Renesto from The Baird Primary Academy
Chloe Hinxman from Chantry Primary School, Bexhill
Wendy Parker and Susi Singh from Christ Church CE Primary School
Lucy Godley and Faith Rew from Guestling Bradshaw CE School
Suzi Bedford and Braidie O’Leary from Hollington Primary Academy
Alice Hillen and Michelle Lower from St Leonards Academy
Jenna French, a solicitor colleague of Richard Lane
Isabel Hodger, party leader, assisted by
Mandy Hinxman from All Saints’ CE Primary Academy.
Teachers from The Baird, Christ Church, Guestling, Hollington and St Leonards Academy are grant- funded by the British Council.
Chloe Hinxman, Jenna French and Isabel Hodger are self-funded.
Mandy is being funded by the Link as an experienced hand to support Isabel.
Chloe wants to find out about education in SL as part of her own professional development and there is a possibility that Chantry may be interested in a partnership.
Jenna has an athletics coaching qualification and will hope to use her expertise in some of the schools.
Richard will, as usual, work largely at REC Hastings Primary.
Apart from Richard and Christine, all the party will be staying at the Campanero Hotel in Rokel.
The programme for the education party has been devised between us and Francis Mason and includes a conference at the British Council, shopping in Freetown, a trip to the beaches and meals with our partners.
The whole party will be hosted in Hastings on the first Sunday with a Thanksgiving Service in Lycett Memorial Methodist Church and a tour of the village.
Isabel is preparing a Maths Workshop following on from her workshops of last February and October. She and Mandy will be hoping to visit all those schools without a visitor this year. They will be accompanied by either Francis or his colleague Ibrabim Kamara.
The present round of grants from the British Council has now come to an end. As usual we do not know what might follow – nor do our contacts at the BC.
We have been disappointed that Battle Abbey Junior School have ceased any interest in a link. This has left REC Rokel still without a partner.
Battle Abbey Senior School is still involved in picking up the partnership with Kelly’s School that was dropped by Robertsbridge.
Some of our schools will hope to invite ad partner back in the summer but for most this depends on the willingness of HSLFL to part-fund at the same level as was agreed last year.
We are targeting the last week in June, a month later than usual, to give us more time to arrange visas if there are problems. The Mayor has agreed to issue invitations in her name this year, which may carry more weight.
We are planning another Soccer Tournament with Teresa Bennett at St Leonards Academy to coincide with the visit of partners.
Annexe C: Report of Health Centre Sub-Committee
Whilst the Health Centre Sub-Committee have not met since the last meeting, they have been updated by email and a meeting has been arranged for Monday 26th February after I return from Sierra Leone and will have a better understanding of what help is required.
I am in touch regularly with Binta Bah (CHO) who had been endeavouring to get Waterloo Council and the Health Department to agree (which they have done verbally) and to put in writing that we are allowed to proceed with the extension of the roof of the small building to create a TB Department whereby the patients who attend on a daily bases will not be waiting in the same room as the Mothers with their almost new born babies. However, the Council ceased business before Christmas and will remain unable to put this in writing until after the General Election in March. I am, however, going to see someone whilst I am there to enable us to move forward with this project.
I will be taking as many items as possible for the Health Centre – including the much appreciated knitted items including teddies and a top up for the school First Aid box. It would be appreciated if the Link were to allow us to ship more items during this year.
Sallu Lansana has obtained a Master’s Degree in Health Care Administrations & Management and is extremely busy working for the Health Department. I have congratulated him on behalf of the Link. I am hoping to see him whilst I am there.
My intention is to look at what project we could undertake next whilst I am there and will bring this for all to consider how best to move forward.
As well as the Link’s provision of money to help the victims of the mudslide, Loaf Project Emergency Fund (Halton Baptist and St. Helen’s Churches providing most of the £2,500) provided training via two Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Training Workshops for 40 Teachers and 40 Religious Leaders at Hastings and Port Loko to assist with the mental health of those affected by the mudslide.
Binta is getting married (to a lawyer) at the end of February – had we been there a further week I would have attended. She has made a request for a laptop for work I and would be pleased to hear from anyone who can provide a second-hand one.