Thursday, 5 November 2009


Did you do your homework and find out what who the soroptimists are? No? I thought not. Well the Skipton branch of this fine body of professional women turned out to be a very nice group indeed. I just did my usual stuff. Talked about how napac started, what we do, how we do it etc. I got a great reception and the feedback I received was that I was the best speaker they'd had this year. And then Helen had to go and spoil it by pointing out I may have been the only speaker they've had this year!! Thanks H!!!

But to more serious matters. No, this business we are in is serious enough so please allow me to just indulge myself with my usual irrelevant banter. Yes, Skipton was great. And next year I am going to speak to their sister branch in Keighley. Sister is the clue. Soroptimists get their name from the Latin (or is it Greek?) for sister (Soror) and optima (the best) hence - best sisters. See you've learnt something today! There are about 100,000 worldwide and it started in California in 1921.

Getting this lottery grant (see last blogs) is quite amazing. It's changed my life. I was at a function at Boris Johnson's place on Monday evening - City Hall, London and every time people asked "where do you get your funding" I grinned and said "the magnificent Big Lottery fund". And I just kept grinning and it wasn't just the wine, which being an nspcc function, was limitless and very nice. Ed Balls the Education Secretary was there as was Sir Christopher Kelly. Chris is now well known for his review of MPs expenses but he is also Chair of Trustees at nspcc. A nice chap I have to say. As, it seems, is the new Chief Executive of nspcc, Andrew Flanagan. I asked him for an early meeting and was a little surprised that he hadn't heard of napac. Why should he I hear you say. Well, as you may or may not know, napac's registered office is at 42 Curtain Road, the head office of nspcc. As we are the only other charity to be registered there I would have thought someone would tell the incoming Chief Exec about us. But no. He's been there nearly a year and hasn't heard of napac! Strange that, since there is somewhere between 8 and 18 million abuse survivors in this country. Strange and quite worrying. As were a few things said to me that evening by one or two individuals. You'd think nspcc staff would know something about abuse wouldn't you? I mean that's what they are in business to prevent isn't it? And as Ed Balls pointed out they have been around for 125 years.

I couldn't stop myself mentioning to Mr Flanagan and one or two others, that it's only when the nspcc is headed up by survivors of abuse (they use the word 'cruelty'not abuse) will it really get stuck into preventing abuse......rather than just talking about it. We'll see. I was impressed by what the new boss said but it's actions I'm intersted in. With a million kids still suffering abuse each year in this country something needs doing.

What else can I tell you? Well, we are moving offices.....again. We are just going from one part of London to another but the new premises are a lot nicer and a little cheaper. We also won't be sharing anymore and that's good news. Our current neighbours are wonderful but we are a bit noisy and they deserve their peace and quiet! We hope to move in early December.

We are pressing on with our plans to set up nationwide support groups and are having a working party meeting this weekend. We also continue to forge strong links with prisons and next week I am spending two days at HMP Manchester (okay, okay, I got sentenced to two days for being drunk and disorderly at the above mentioned function) when I hope to organise some further training for staff and prison officers. I've been to HMP Manchester (or Strangeways as it used to be called) a few times and I have to say the staff are a nice bunch, at least the ones I've met.

Finally. We continue to be blessed with an influx of wonderful new voluteers and that makes me very happy. The lottery funding will enable us to take on more full time staff next year too so I think it fair to say that it's onwards and upwards for this little charity. In fact we are not so little any more! Only the other day I was reminiscing (sorry I don't know how to spell that and this doesn't do spell-check) that it doesn't seem so long since I was doing all this from my bedroom - on my own! Actually, it is quite a long time ago......I'm just getting old and forgetful. But not too old to show a clean pair of wheels to those boy-racers on the Old Kent Road......................talking of's Lycra time again! Have a great weekend and thanks for being our friend.
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