National AGM Reports 2016

Reports from the CWL Committees given to our members at the AGM in Southport 2016

Services Committee Report for AGM Southport 

September 2016


I do hope you all enjoyed the article on the Three Canteeners in the Winter edition of CWL News and I am pleased to say that the ladies are all well at respectively 102, 97 and 94, though Dorothea is now living in a nursing home.  Her daughter is in touch with us and recently found some canteening memorabilia in an old suitcase of her
mother’s, a notable piece being a certificate stating what should
happen to her should she be captured as a prisoner of war!  This can be seen on the Services Display Board.  We have also been offered Frances Watson’s uniform with insignia which will come from Spain.


It is 100 years since the opening of the Ripon ‘Mother Hut’ and, of course, the Battle of the Somme from which so many who had used the hut never came back. A Somme wreath was laid at the shrine
followed by Mass at St Wilfrid’s Church, Ripon celebrated by
Bishop Marcus Stock of Leeds and concelebrated by Mgr. Holroyd  the Parish Priest,  Father Donald Cumming, the military Chaplain at the Army Foundation College at Harrogate and other priests from Leeds Diocese. The Mayor and Mayoress of Ripon were also in attendance and took a very great interest.  A lovely afternoon tea followed which was much enjoyed by all.


Donations and Grants—the Services Committee made some grants for small items but the main donation this year has gone to the Gurkha Welfare Trust specifically for the rebuilding of 2 homes for the dependents of Gurkha Veterans following the devastating earthquakes last year.  These are earthquake-resistant brick-built 2 room homes – the cost of which is currently £3,000 each.  We have made a new home a reality for two Gurkha families.  Plaques have been placed by the main door which reads ‘Built by the GWS with funds donated by the CWL Services Committee’.  I visited the Gurkha Welfare Trust in Salisbury  last December and was given a wonderful presentation on the work being done in Nepal and was reassured that donations  really do get to where they are needed.


I would like to say a very big thank you for donations from Branches and Sections to the Committee in the last year.  Please do remember to refer cases to us for consideration, the criteria for which is in the last edition of CWL News and there are also copies on the Services Committee table.
Bernie Townsend, Chairman of Services Committee  

Health and Family Life Report for  AGM Southport

It was three years ago that I took the decision to take on this role for the League. So time to look back over this time and see where the journey has taken us.

I have focused on loneliness in all its ugly shapes and forms.  Over the last three years, many organisations and charities who were
reliant on local authority funding, have experienced reductions to that funding.  This has resulted in cuts in their services to their communities, leaving lonely and vulnerable people isolated.  We are needed more than ever to bridge that gap by meeting the needs of the community, a community with whom we also worship. We have looked at wellbeing and how to keep body, mind and spirit healthy.  The Olympics and Paralympics have just been filling our TV with memorable events.  So many favourite moments,  with a huge emphasis on looking after oneself in order to make the most of who we are and what we have been able to achieve.  That is, to be the best we can be.  What an inspiration  to all of us; especially this unfit couch potato. It does only take a few minutes for that extra prayer time;  the walk rather than the bus; noticing the wonderful world of nature; stopping to chat.  One of the standout themes for me during the Olympics was how important family is to these young athletes.  The sacrifices mum and dad make in order to allow their children to follow their Olympic dream.  And let’s not forget being  like a family, as was so clearly evident from our Hockey Gold medallists.

Over these last  three years the Church has been having a very good look at Family Life and in March this year, the Holy Father gave us ‘Amoris Latitia’ – his response to the Family Synods that our own Bishop Peter has been attending.  I hope that you have been given the opportunity in your Diocese and Parishes to respond to this
exaltation.  There is a lot to it and a lot to be done.  But let’s not forget how true it is that the Family that prays together, stays
 Perhaps here is a good place to start in supporting and
accompanying our own and parish family in all situations—the easy as well as the difficult.  CWL has so much to offer our parishes in skills and experience.

Thank you for your support and encouragement these last three years, especially from team East Anglia.  Could not have done it
without you girls!
Please come and find me on the Health and Family Life table.

                                Alison Love, CWL Health and Family Officer

International and World Union of Catholic Women’s Organisations


WUCWO Day on May 13th was celebrated in many different ways all over the world.

In ZAMBIA they decided to celebrate the day in Parishes rather than in one central place in order to enable all women to participate. It was felt that when it is put at a central place, some women fail to attend due to distance.


Since a new Bishop was installed in the diocese of HAVANA the
organization proposed to celebrate WUCWO Day with a spirituality session as committed laics.  About 150 women attended the event.


WUCWO’s Day of prayer in GABON took place over two days. The first day, a distribution of water at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Libreville took place. This the biggest health care centre in Gabon where the lack of water is an ongoing problem. Therefore, it was decided to make this gift to relieve the thirst of the sick. More than 1200 litres were offered by the Catholic Women of
Libreville. On the second day, Mass was celebrated.


And now some news from the Vatican where Pope Francis has
appointed a woman director of the Theological-Pastoral Department of the Secretariat for Communications. Her name is Natasa Govekar. She received the WUCWO President General and the
Secretary General who then invited Natasa to attend the second meeting of the Middle- East Women  Conference that will take place in Bari Italy from the 19th -23rd October 2016.


Margaret Valentine,
CWL  International Officer & Liaison with WUCWO


Parliamentary Report

While our future in Europe has been occupying the minds and time of Parliamentarians for a major part of this year other matters have come before them. Below is set out information about those Bills which are of special interest to us in CWL
1 Abortion (Disability Equality) Bill 2016-17  This is a Private Member’s Bill (Starting in the House of Lords) sponsored by Lord Shinkwin. This Bill has had its formal First Reading and been printed but as yet there is no date for a Second Reading. So now is the time to write to Lord Shinkwin at the House of Lords, London, SW1A 0PW    Email:  to give him our support.
2 Access to Palliative Care Bill   This is a Private Member’s Bill (Starting in the House of Lords) sponsored Baroness Finlay of Llandaff . This Bill is again before Parliament and is in keeping with the CWL’s ethos and has reached exactly the same stage as the Abortion (Disability Equality) Bill described above. The purpose of this Bill is to ensure that anyone who needs palliative care receives it.
3 The Assisted Dying Bill This is a Bill to enable competent adults who are terminally ill to be provided at their request with specified assistance to end their own life. It is an abhorrent measure and we must oppose it by writing to our MPs or to Lord Hayward to register objection.
4 Children and Social Work Bill There are many technical provisions in this Bill which are important if you are working in social work. The Bill sets out a framework of corporate parenting principles that overlay these existing responsibilities of local authorities towards “looked after children” and for or  those leaving care and makes  clear what it means for the authority as a whole to act as a good parent.
5 Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic
Violence (Ratification of Convention) Bill
Sponsored by Dr Eilidh Whiteford (SNP, Banff and Buchan) it is a Private Member’s Bill. The purpose of this Bill is to force the government to ratify the Istanbul Convention. Although the UK Government is a signatory to the Convention, it has yet to ratify it. The Convention sets out minimum standards on prevention, protection, prosecution and the development of integrated policies. Countries ratifying the treaty are obligated to protect and support victims of such violence. They must also establish services such as hotlines, shelters, medical services, counselling and Legal Aid.
6 Support to Exit Prostitution Bill. This Bill would provide a framework which would require government departments and local authorities to devise strategies to support people who want to leave  prostitution.
Conclusion Out of the 115 Bills currently before Parliament, these 6 Bills are the ones which I hope will be of interest to you all. If the post of Parliamentary Representative survives the restructuring I will monitor them on your behalf, report their progress and bring to your attention any Bill introduced in the future, which I hope will interest you.  There is more information on the Parliamentary Table so please come and talk to me.

Frances Canning Parliamentary Officer


Relief and Refugee

Pope Francis asks us to, Clothe the Naked as a Corporal Work of Mercy. To be charitable but remember in giving it is important to maintain a
person’s sense of dignity. No one should be made to feel like a charity case.

A Nigerian author informed a recent UN conference on the Global Refugee Crisis that her parents were displaced and were refugees from the Nigeria/Biafra war for 3 years. She reminded delegates that Sub-Saharan Africa is home to more than a quarter of the world’s refugee population, over 18 million people, fleeing conflict in the Central African Republic, South Sudan and Somalia. Conflict has continued for years.
Having looked at the country of origin of those refugees who have been helped by the R & R Team the Democratic Republic of Congo continues to be ‘top of the list’. 43 applications compared with 36 from Nigeria and 23 from Eritrea. The full list is on the Relief & Refugee display boards.

Some of our applicants, women, men and children, have been trafficked to work as servants or work in the sex industry and were not registered as asylum seekers until escaping or being rescued. Agencies are aware of their need for registration to avoid detention and subsequent deportation. All children under the age of 18 years old are legally cared for by Social Services. On reaching their 18th birthday, all benefits, including accommodation are withdrawn. However, the government has recognised that they need to support vulnerable young people until the age of 21. Lone children, whether separated from their families during the arduous journey to the UK, or given to people traffickers by their parents, to give their child a better life, require special care due to the trauma they have suffered.

Refugee Week, held in June, is a UK nationwide programme of arts,
cultural and educational events that celebrate the contribution of
refugees to the UK, to help foster understanding between communities. Greenwich Migrant Hub celebrated Refugee Week by looking at refugee poetry. Other centres around the country have held cookery demonstrations and exhibited visitor skills in woodwork, art and gardening.
Photographs of gardening projects, on our display, show the valuable work experienced by both men and women. The projects give a sense of community, achievement, dignity and well-being to all those who have taken part and the produce is eaten by everyone attending the centres.


During July and August we have seen a rise in applications for help with school uniform, necessary to enable the children to ‘fit in’ at school. Grants have been awarded towards shoes and some clothing, whilst the Catholic Clothing Guild, Brentwood and Southwark, have generously always accepted our referrals for uniform and other clothing. We are very grateful to their members.  The Guild needs to increase membership to continue its vital support for families, enabling the Relief and Refugee Team to continue awarding grants to asylum seekers and refugees on your behalf.

Jane Dawson, Relief and Refugee Team