Women Working For Women
We have now been in existence for six months and I am very pleased with how things have progressed. I was surprised to find that I had a membership list of 157 women across the constituency and started out by trying to make contact with everyone on the list. Most were contactable by e-mail but there were a few that only had phone numbers and some no contact details at all. This was by choice not bad administration I hasten to add.
Some members replied and some didn't but I have managed to get together a list of e- mails that appear to work and I have had no negative responses to my emails which is a bonus. However, we now find that a small number, around 25 attend the meetings at diﬀerent times, and seek to participate in activities on behalf of the Party. This is a nice, friendly, workable number and I am encouraged to think what we can achieve working together for the good of women across Congleton. We also have a secret Facebook page. If you're not on it and want to be, contact me.
Our first meeting took place at my house in December and we had a really good night of getting to know each other, eating, drinking and feeling festive. We will definitely be repeating that one.
Considering that it was Christmas week and it had been arranged very quickly at virtually the last minute, I was very pleased to have ten guests on that evening. (Better planning needed for this year's Christmas Bash).
Our January meeting was a curry night at Nobannos in Congleton and was attended by just eight people but bad weather and winter illness had caused six other people to call oﬀ at the last minute. It was a good night and we were made to feel very welcome by the excellent staﬀ at Nobannos.
We will return.
February found us at the Beartown Tap in Congleton with Deborah Darnes speaking to us about Palestine. It was an interesting meeting during which Deborah told us all about her work in Palestine, the history of the region and the situation for the people living there. Food for thought, informative and fair reporting from our sister.
In March we were at The Market Tavern Sandbach where thirteen people met to hear Paula Eaton's talk on Fracking. We learned a lot and had a lively discussion about fracking and its implications for Cheshire East.
On April 15th a group of us attended a meeting at Addlington Hall near Macclesfield, which was hosted by the Wirral and Cheshire Badger Group. We listened to several speakers which included a scientist, a vet and Simon King from BBC's Springwatch.
They told us about the applications for licences to cull badgers in Cheshire. We learned about the science and the politics around the badger cull as well as the details of the shooting. We came away committed to finding out more and being active in any protests or actions against this terrible cruelty.
Melanie Lawton has agreed to be our lead woman on this and any other animal issue. Thanks Melanie you are now our Animal Champion.
On April 23rd we hosted a meeting at Congleton Town Hall where we were visited by Julie Ward MEP. After she spoke to women she spoke to all members about Europe and her work there representing us, the
people of the North West. We had in excess of thirty people attend which was very encouraging.
After speaking for well over two hours, Julie did a walkabout in the Town Centre. She was well received and I managed to get coverage in the press helping to get the Forum known in the area.
Julie is an extremely hardworking woman and is totally committed to Europe and our remaining in.
There will be lots of work to do in the run-up to the referendum on 23rd June. All help thankfully received for leafletting and market stalls in all towns. Contact Peter Munro our EU Champion if you would like to volunteer. 01260 279235
We did manage to film her women's talk for those who were unable to attend on the day and it is available to all forum members. (Just ask)
On Wednesday 27th April I joined our Junior Doctors on the picket line in Macclesfield to show the Forum's solidarity with their strike action against the new contracts and creeping privatisation. It was an interesting day as the doctors had decided that rather than picket Macclesfield General they would teach C.P.R. in the Town Centre and get signatures for their petition.
I mingled amongst the crowd to recruit people for the C.P.R. training and to gauge the mood of the general public. Most were supportive of the doctors but there were a few nasty remarks, someone called them "murderers" and apparently I'm "disgraceful" for supporting them!!
I got an unexpected opportunity to see the doctors at work when a real life accident occurred; a lady fell and broke her shoulder. She was surrounded in seconds by more doctors than you could shake a stick at. They stayed with her until an ambulance arrived and then administered morphine and a sling, before sending her oﬀ to A&E; they're never really oﬀ duty or on strike.
I approached a young man on the street to ask him to sign the petition and learn C.P.R. He said he would but his head was everywhere as his wife had given birth to their first baby the previous night. "I know" said one young doctor, "I delivered her". The young man did a double take and said "Oh yes, so you did". It was a fantastic moment and a small insight into the life of one of our junior doctors; they were brilliant and deserve our full support. I had a really good day and sharpened up my resuscitation skills.
A couple of things that have come up at meetings.
People interested in standing for Cheshire East or any of the Town Councils in 2019, please contact me as I am in the process of trying to organise some training, which is available through Labour Women's Network. It would be fabulous if we could field some well-trained, able women to stand for Labour in 2019, so thinking ahead, even if you only think you might be interested, come along, learn more and do the training.
Your Party Needs You
Monthly Gift Campaign
This is an idea I had back at North West Conference where some Young Labour women were taking a collection of women's hygiene products for homeless women in Manchester and Liverpool. Apparently hostels for the homeless supply food, shampoo and soap, shaving supplies and even condoms but they don't supply tampons and towels for the women. This means that women have real diﬃculty each month.
I did a bit of research and found that food banks are the same. Young mothers using food banks are having the same problem. So I came up with the idea of making a little pack containing a packet of tampons or towels and perhaps a little treat (bit of chocolate or a small bubblebath) and calling it Monthly Gift. It would also have a little card in identifying the Forum and our work.
For the Forum this would be a good outreach, women to women, and would help get our heads above the parapet and show our concern and solidarity with women in the community who are suﬀering under the austerity policies imposed by the Tories.
I have been mulling this over since last October and dithering whether to go ahead or not. I don't want to start something and be unable to continue with it. The constraints are the usual, money and willing helpers and also the diﬃculty of getting into the food banks or women's hostels. I have made tentative enquiries but the hostility to the Labour Party is a massive barrier in Congleton. If anyone is interested in fundraising for this campaign and/or has some ideas for fundraising or accessing food banks, hostels etc then please contact me. Otherwise I will ditch the idea as a non-starter.
Our next meeting is Thursday 26th May at 7:30 at Market Tavern Sandbach and we have a speaker from the Women's Refuge coming to tell us about their work.
A.G.M. This is 7:30, Monday 6th June at Market Tavern, Sandbach. I am up for re- election so please, please, pretty please, come along and vote for me to stay as your Women's Oﬃcer.
Susan Munro Women's Oﬃcer M: 07534510841