MEMBERS of Ilkley Soroptimists have taken on challenges for International Women’s Day.

The theme for International Women’s Day on March 8 March is Choose to Challenge and in lockdown Ilkley members have focused on the UK sub theme: Raising Awareness against Bias, by supporting three particular groups of women in Yorkshire.

Two years ago Soroptimists refurbished the craft room at Askham Grange Womens Open Prison. In lockdown and via Zoom Ilkley members have learnt about the facilities and work of the Mother and Baby Unit within the prison.

Six Ilkley Soroptimists led by Angela St John, of Burley, volunteer on a weekly basis at the Together Women Project in Bradford. This centre supports women with multiple complex needs including those on Court Orders or newly released from prison.

Volunteers organise activity classes, help with basic skills, restock key items clients can take when moving into new accommodation.

In lockdown, meeting is not possible and feedback confirms these clients present worries are often focused on their feelings of isolation.

Led by Janet Munro and Joy Lynch, Ilkley Soroptimists have gathered quizzes, at home craft ideas, along with lists of online learning materials which are being produced and packaged if necessary and sent out via the Bradford Centre.

Ilkley Soroptimists wanted to help the work of the Keighley Refuge and Pauline Doyle of Addingham has collected toiletries over many years and has been the Soroptimist point of contact for the Refuge. Given advice from the Refuge on the effect of lockdown, Ilkley Soroptimists have provided shopping vouchers for the residents. The Ilkley club is committed to working more closely with the refuge over the coming year.

Soroptimists as an International organisation is also supporting a project for older women in Vabatsiri, Zimbabwe, trafficked women in Nepal and women agricultural co-operatives in Kenya.