Friday, 25 February 2011

WrW Maternal Health

What a busy day I had Wednesday. First a drive down to Ipswich for an interview on Radio Suffolk's mid morning show.with James Hazell. That went well, in fact better than I had anticipated. Came home to find emails from friends who had listened to the show and they were all pleased with what I had said. Rob had recorded the interview so I was able to listen myself, very odd, it didn't sound like me at all. Click on the link below to listen for your self. Start at 2 hours 11 mins.

Half past five found us at the station where we collected two of the speakers off the Cambridge train.
The Public Affairs committee all turned up on time as usual to find that the hall was more or less ready to go, as Rob, Alex and the speakers we had collected from the station had set to putting out the tables and chairs.

If there had been any doubt as to whether we would have an audience or not was soon dispelled when people started arriving well in advance of the start time. Soon there was a buzz around the room. People gathering and tasting the local food and wine.

We made a prompt start at 7.30 and Maria Pawlowska gave the first presentation. Unfortunately she hadn't got very far when one of our members was taken ill. Luckily we had two doctors 'in the house' and another guest quickly phoned for an ambulance. After a short time the lady was seen by the paramedics and taken into the ambulance for tests. Luckily she had recovered and didn't require hospitalisation but was taken home by one of my friends.

The evening continued. Maria was followed by Jenny Newell a local doctor, who gave a report on work being carried out in Bangladesh by one of her friends who has been working there for many years. The work being done in the Lamb hospital has reduced maternal mortality dramatically and is now significantly lower than in others regions of Bangladesh.

Adam Musgrave from Oxfam GB followed giving information on how governments are involved in implementing the MDGs and gave some very practical examples of why health care is not always accessed even when it is available. For instance in many countries health care has to be paid for in advance, and he gave one example of where the cost of a hospital birth equates to half the average annual salary. He put it to us that if he was earning £24,000 here he would not be prepared to pay £12,000 for his wife to give birth to their child she is expecting, even though he loves her dearly. I think everyone in the room agreed with him. He gave examples of how Oxfam uses publicity to raise awareness of issues.

On a different note Vicki Morris spoke about her work with young parents in Suffolk. Since the beginning of her project they have reduced the number of teenage pregnancies quite considerably. They have also succeeded in getting a large number of the young mothers back into education or into work. They have also succeeded in preventing them from going on to have subsequent pregnancies. A very worthwhile project - however due to funding cuts her job has been axed. Luckily for Vicki she has been accepted onto the degree course to study as a midwife, so will take this opportunity to make a career change.

The evening was brought to a close by Ruth Bond the NFWI national Chairman. She has been involved with the Women Reaching Women project since its conception and had visited Malawi with Adam Musgrave last year.

A total of 78 people attended the eventing and this morning I received several emails thanking us for a very good evening.

Popped into the WI office this morning to return some equipment and they too had had calls thanking them too.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

The Big Society

Watching Question Time on Thursday I was really annoyed when the so called 'experts' were discussing the 'Big Society'.

I must be simple as I thought we all knew what the 'Big Society' was when David Cameron announced it last year.

Big Society - the general public doing volunteer work in the community, helping their neighbours, running scout and guide groups, running sports clubs, sitting on committees of village halls, churches, local museums etc for FREE. I seem to have misunderstood, it seems that the Big Society is another name for local government, surely not!

All we hear about is how much money will the 'Big Society' get - sorry but the idea of volunteering is to give your time and energy for 'FREE'.

Obviously there is going to be less money around over the coming years so volunteers will have to step in and do more. Locally parents are up in arms about the potential loss of Lollipop (wo)men, some parents even expect them to be provided within 20 metres of a pelican crossing. Surely it would be better for these parents to teach their children to cross the road safely using the facilities provided. Those whose children attend schools where there is no pedestrian crossing should volunteer to man a lollipop crossing themselves. Youth clubs are threatened with closure as funding is withdrawn unless the paid youth workers are replaced by volunteers, but parents don't have time! Oh, but I keep forgetting the currently way of thinking is that it should always be someone else who should offer these provisions, not us the general public.

I am not saying that those who lose their jobs will be pleased with the cutbacks, I do hope they find alternative employment, but I do think we should all think carefully about what needs to be done by paid employees and what can be done by genuine volunteers.

I think it is an insult to all those who already give their time to the 'Big Society' to imply that their work is paid for.

End of todays rant!

The Guildhall Project

Yesterday we visited the Guildhall in Bury St Edmunds, with a group from the Bury Heritage Guides.

There are plans to make the Guildhall into a new Heritage Venue, and we had the opportunity to look around with Matthew Champion, the project manager.

It had been assumed that the Guildhall dated back to around 1250 but after recent surveys for the new project it is now believed to be even older, possibly 1180. The Guildhall is thought to be the oldest civic building in England. At the front of the building, is covered with brick work which covers the original flint structure. At the rear the flint banding is clearly visible and apparently there are several churches in the area which were built in the same manner leading the experts to think the building now dates from the 12th century. In the rear courtyard is the Tudor kitchen, which had been thought to have been rebuilt in later times, but after close inspection much of the original building is still intact along with the covered corridor from the kitchen through into the main banqueting room.

Upstairs where the scouts currently have their shop, is the Royal Observer Corps 'Ops Room'. This has remained unchanged since its decommissioning in the 1950's. It is hoped to replace the furniture as it was used during the war. Several people have already come forward who worked there including the carpenter who installed the raised balcony area above the 'ops' table.

A very interesting visit.