Welcome to our weekly newsletter
This Wednesday we welcomed two guests, Ben Silvey of the YMCA and Rebekah Simms who we sponsored as a Rotary Peace Scholar (2014/15).
- Having been in contact with Bharabhurri School in Nepal, it seems that the Tiffin Fund requires £750 this year to provide meals for the children. We have previously approved £500 and the club approved an additional sum of £250.
- In view of the many recent disasters and our ongoing relationship with the Water Survival Box project run by Chelwood Bridge Rotary, we would like to give an immediate sum of £1,500 to that project to help them to replace the boxes they have sent out to recent disasters, so that they can purchase stock available for immediate use. The club approved a sum of £1500 for water survival boxes. An artical has been run in the Chew Valley Gazette - please click here for the page.
- As Trustee of Swift Inclusive Sports Mark Colfer has been organising the Swift Inclusive Sports Swimming Gala on 7th October 2017. The club approved the payment of £1,500 towards the costs of the Swimming Gala.
4th to 15th October - Bucket Collections at Moscow State Circus. HELP IS NEEDED FOR THE 12th October. Please let Tony know if you can help.
Young Carer’s Fun Day on 7th October 2017 at the Vassall Centre, Fishponds, Bristol. If you can help for a coiple of hours in the day please contact John Whittaker
Bristol Rotary Club Centenary Ball on 4th November. Last call for tickets. Monies please to the Treasurer.
Visit to the Aviation Museum on 9 December 2017. Peter Hilton outlined the visit to the brand new Aviation Museum and needs to know numbers as soon as possible.
The Rotary Young Musician of the Year competition
The Young Musician heat, which we are hosting at Henleaze United Reform Church, will take place on 17 November 2017. Antony Alderson is looking for volunteers to help and has fifty tickets to sell. It is always an enjoyable evening. Please contact Anthony for more detail.
Rotary Peace Scholar
Rebekah Simms from Horfield, Bristol had won a Rotary Peace Scholarship to study for a Master’s Degree in Peace and Conflict Studies at the International Christian University in Tokyo. She had previously gained a BA in Economics, Development and Politics from the University of Manchester.
While the world hopes for peace, Rotary works to try to make it a reality. Rebekah is one of 10 Rotary Peace Fellows chosen in 2014 to study peace building and conflict resolution. The Peace Scholarship programme was started just over 10 years ago.
This is a competitive programme designed for professionals with substantial work experience that reflects their commitment to promoting international cooperation or peace and conflict resolution. The Fellowship included a fully funded Masters at ICU Rotary Peace Centre in Tokyo, Japan and 3 months of fieldwork and qualitative research data collection in Tanzania. Rebekah graduated top of class with 'honours' and a GPA of 4.0 receiving top marks for her thesis assessing social enterprises and women’s empowerment.
Rebekah told us of her connection with Rotary, which started in 1939 with her grandmother who was born in Czechoslovakia and was one of 669 children part of Nicholas Winterton’s kindertransport. Winterton was a Rotarian and member of a club in Maidenhead.
Their 11th-hour escape on the eve of the Second World War became the stuff of legend, earning international recognition for the man who organised it, Sir Nicholas Winton.
The children were spirited out of German-occupied Czechoslovakia, boarded on to Winton’s “kindertransport” trains bound for Britain in a desperate attempt to save them from the Nazis.
A memorial recognising the agonising moral choice made by parents of the 669 mostly Jewish children sent away is to be constructed in Prague’s main railway station, from where eight evacuation trains departed in the spring and summer of 1939, after Nazi Germany invaded Czechoslovakia.
Rebekah having completed her initial degree had learnt of the Rotary peace scholarships and through the good offices and assistance of Rotarian David Wells of this club succeeded in gaining a place on the fully funded programme and was well looked after by Rotarians in Japan.
We wish Rebekah well as in the next few days she will set off to The Gambia where she has gained a post with the European Union in a diplomatic role managing their aid and donor funds. We are sure she will make a difference.
YMCA Bristol Hostel Project
Ben Silvey has been working for the YMCA since May 2012, but was involved as a volunteer for 7 years previously and is now responsible for developing and overseeing the work of the YMCA in Bristol.
Having qualified in Youth and Community Work at Oxford Brookes University in 2001, he has spent that last 16 years working with young people in Bristol for a variety of national and local charities. He says that, as a Bristolian he is motivated by his love for the city and how we can make it a place that nurtures young people and provides them with the best opportunities – regardless of their background. He updated the club on the YMCA Bristol Project a new hostel for the City.
He told us about this ambitious project which will open later this year. YMCA are converting the old Grade II listed Bristol Police headquarters in the heart of the city centre into a hostel. This hostel will provide emergency accommodation for young people who are homeless alongside commercial backpacking and budget traveller beds. This unique combination will provide a sustainable revenue stream, which is independent of government funding, enabling the provision of accommodation for vulnerable young people regardless of political or economic changes.
It also creates a non-institutional and non-stigmatising environment in which homeless young people can feel safe without feeling labelled as a problem.
More and more young people in Bristol don’t have a safe place to stay, and are unable to access the existing accommodation services.
The reasons for a young person becoming homeless are complex and traumatic. It might be the breakdown of relationships in a family, abusive home situations or the sudden loss of a job. It could be that several things happen at once, and create a tipping point where a young person can no longer cope – they need to get away from where they are living.
This all happens quickly, and when it does, without good support structures in place, the young people can find themselves with nowhere to go. They are vulnerable. Statutory services will only step in if the young person in question can satisfy the criteria for being deemed a “priority need”, and this threshold is getting higher and higher.
Even if they do meet these criteria it may take days or sometimes weeks to gather the evidence to make the case. In the meantime, the young person is left with uncertainty about their future, causing high levels of stress with potentially long term consequences.
And, of course, this is on top of the stress and trauma they have already faced which led them to be homeless.
President Tony Hughes presented him with a cheque for £1,000 which was a legacy left by our founder member, Laurence Payne who had strong ties with the YMCA as a former trustee. The monies will go towards furnishing a couple of rooms in Laurence’s name.
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