Zonta Club of Guildford initiates Financial Management Training for Women in Surrey Prison

In March 2019 Zonta Club of Guildford applied for a Zonta International Centennial Fund on behalf of the HMS Send Women’s Prison near Ripley.  The grant was approved and, according to key prison administrator Lesley Mason, Managing Chaplian, over the past two years the grant has had many positive outcomes.  It has allowed prison administrators to set up a Gamblers Anonymous chapter and to develop and deliver a course to teach residents the basics of budgeting and the dangers of debt.  By the beginning of the COVID lockdown the program was up and running well, with the Gamblers Anonymous group meeting weekly, and with 43 women having completed the “Managing Your Money” course.

Unfortunately, COVID restrictions prevent the Gamblers Anonymous group from continuing to meet and the prison cannot run courses at present. However, the Zonta Centennial grant has resulted in continued Send prison programming in the area of personal finance and gambling.  As a result of the Zonta grant,  the prison is now launching a gambling awareness week, complete with activity books that residents can use and complete in-cell. In addition, the prison has been able to redesign its money management course for use in-cell, with follow-up support to ensure that participants understand the material and that any questions are answered.  This new resource has been completed by 29 women to-date, and the program is ongoing. The workbook is also available to the wider UK prison system, so that other prisons can launch similar programs. According to Lesley Mason, Managing Chaplain, HMP Send, “from small acorns, oak trees can grow!” The Zonta grant of GBP 4,000 will be fully spent by October of this year. 

Malala Yousafzai is celebrating graduating from Oxford!

Many students are having to celebrate their graduation at home. One of them is Malala who gained an impressive degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) from Oxford University. 

Shot in the head at the age of 12 for campaigning for education rights for girls in her native Pakistan she came to the UK for life saving medical treatment. While studying in the UK at t17 she became the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner.  Now she has graduated and for now like so many other graduates she is looking forward to a rest and Netflix.

Domestic Abuse Bill... latest...

It has long been a problem in court cases involving domestic violence that victims and their children are re-traumatised in court facing aggressive questions by former partners. Not only that, but cases are often dragged out by partners and agreements about contact with parents become areas of conflict.  

Under proposals new measures will be proposed in the Domestic Abuse bill to prevent aggressive questioning with Investigative or Inquisitorial judges leading the line of questioning rather than lawyers for each side. To avoid multiple court hearings a system of one family  one judge is planned to reduce the problems of revisiting traumatic events in multiple courts.

These proposals arise from a report by an expert panel drawn from academia, family law practitioners and charities which spoke to 1,200 people about their views and experience. 

Dame Vera Baird QC, victims’ commissioner for England and Wales, said: “This panel of experts has dug deep to understand, and address, the serious harm to domestic abuse victims and their children caused over many years by the presumption of contact, and the intensely adversarial process present in the family courts.

“With children’s voices rarely heard in these proceeding and even more rarely heeded, victims and children are in need of better protections from abusive perpetrators.”


The bill, which aims to reform the way in which perpetrators and victims are treated includes

  • creating a statutory definition of domestic abuse, emphasising that domestic abuse is not just physical violence, but can also be emotional, coercive or controlling, and economic abuse
  • establishing a Domestic Abuse Commissioner, to drive the response to domestic abuse.
  • introduce new Domestic Abuse Protection Notices and Domestic Abuse Protection Orders to further protect victims and place restrictions on the actions of offenders
  • place a duty on local authorities in England to provide support to victims of domestic abuse and their children in refuges and other safe accommodation
  • prohibit perpetrators of abuse from cross-examining their victims in person in the family courts in England and Wales
  • enable domestic abuse offenders to be subject to polygraph testing as a condition of their licence following their release from custody
  • place the guidance supporting the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (‘Clare’s law’) on a statutory footing

Media Matters for Women Sierra Leone

Great News! Media Matters for Women (MMW), the charity of one of our members, Sharon Bylenga, has been granted charitable status in the UK!!

MMW was set up in Sierra Leone in 2013 and is partnered with MMW in the US which is a non-profit organization established in 2010. Their mission is to achieve gender equality and empower impoverished African women and girls by creating a new kind of media that transforms how women and girls living in rural areas receive, use and share information. MMW use podcasts to get important information out to illiterate women and girls who would have no other way of accessing this information and have have established Listening centres with Youth Advocates who play the podcasts to the women and girls. These podcasts cover difficult issues such as gender-based violence and sexual and reproductive health. By harnessing free file-sharing on mobile phones, MMW has replicated what already happens in Africa’s music-sharing culture, but instead of music, they deliver crucial information to women and girls.

To find out more go to their website https://www.mediamattersforwomen.org or contact them by email info@mediamattersforwomen.org


Lesley Abdela receiving the Zonta Centenary Award

Presented by Anna Hummel at the centennial gala celebration dinner in London on 8th November 2019.


PRESS RELEASE:  Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Unsung Hero Award won by Jan Hancock

Prison Volunteer Jan Hancock has won the centenary award for ‘Unsung Hero’ presented by the Zonta Club of Guildford for her work with women prisoners. The award will be presented at a celebration dinner tomorrow evening November 6.

President Olive Jones said: ‘Jan is part of the team of volunteers working through the chaplaincy helping women in prison. Through Zonta’s local service work with women in prison we soon became aware of this essential work not only in helping them get through their time in prison but in preparing them for life outside. Jan is definitely an unsung hero dedicating so much time to this essential support work.’

Jan visits the prison weekly, mentoring prisoners. She is also a part of the team which delivers the Sycamore course on Victim Awareness. This is an essential part of restorative justice, with prisoners learning to accept responsibility for their crimes, their impact on victims and on the community.

Jan said: ‘I’m part of a large team which is passionate about what we do. The team members come from all walks of life and bring a huge range of experience. It is a privilege to be a part of it. I’m delighted to accept the award as much on behalf of the team as on my own behalf.


PRESS RELEASE: Thursday, October 30, 2019

Distinguished Journalist and Fighter for Gender Balance, Lesley Abdela MBE Awarded Zonta UK Centenary Award

Lesley Abdela has been unanimously selected to receive the Zonta Centenary Award presented to a woman who has distinguished herself in working to improve the lives of women. She has fought tirelessly for women’s representation in the UK and other Parliaments, and for women’s representation at top tables in all Peace negotiations after deadly conflict, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosova, Nepal, Sierra Leone and Aceh/Indonesia.

The award will be presented at the centennial celebration dinner in London on 8th November 2019.

Anna Hummel, UK Area Director of Zonta, said “From forming the all-Party 300 group for Women In Politics & Public Life which challenged our political parties to provide far better representation of the nation’s women in Parliament, to working in war-torn areas campaigning successfully to ensure peace-making and peace-building has the involvement of women, Lesley’s work has taken her to over 50 countries.

  • Training women in Central and Eastern European countries to participate in the democratic politics after the disintegration of the old Soviet bloc.
  • Facilitating a declaration on peace building with women from countries in conflict aboard the mile-long United Nations Beijing Express train travelling from Warsaw to Beijing for the 4th UN World Conference on Women.
  • Successfully supported advocacy for women in post-deadly-conflict countries to be included as part of post-conflict resolution and democracy-building.

Nor was such work always risk-free. She had, for example, to dodge mortars in Baghdad.

Speaking as the news broke that 18 UK women MPs are standing down - Lesley said: “Because of my long-term activities and support for more women in Parliament I am outraged that most of the women MPs are stepping down from parliament due to the abuse and threats they receive. They have expressed understandable unwillingness to submit themselves and their families to any more threats. This is likely to have a detrimental impact in the future, inhibiting women from coming forward as parliamentary candidates in the future. This situation cannot be allowed to continue. Political Party leaders must play a more proactive role in stamping this out.”

Lesley Abdela can be contacted at: lesley.abdela@shevolution.com


PRESS RELEASE: Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Zonta Celebrates 100 Years of working for women

The Zonta Club of London City, London 2 and Guildford are celebrating the centennial anniversary of Zonta International on 8th November 2019

The Gala Dinner will be held at The Andasz Hotel in Liverpool Street to raise funds for a refuge at Oasis Community Housing for vulnerable young women experiencing homelessness and also to continue the work of Zonta International Foundation, Ending Child Marriage.

The dinner will also be the scene for the UK Zonta clubs’ prestigious centennial anniversary award.

Anna Hummel, UK area director of Zonta said: “I’m so proud of the work Zonta does. In the UK we focus on supporting women with real problems, in prison, in slavery and in need. Internationally we have a distinguished record in so many areas whether it’s massively reducing the number of children dying in infancy in Rwanda through lack of maternal health care, or giving girl children the chance of an education in Madagascar. As well we support distinguished young women leading the field in technology, aerospace, business and public affairs.”

Zonta International is a worldwide organization that has empowered women and girls through service and advocacy for 100 years. It was founded in 1919 in Buffalo, New York, by a group of forward-thinking women who were not satisfied with the predominantly social nature of many women’s organizations. Instead, Zonta’s founders envisioned a women’s service organization that would advocate for laws and policies that ensure gender equality and help every woman and girl realize her full potential. Through continuous engagement over almost 10 decades, Zonta International has become a respected and reliable agent of civil society. Zonta International is a non-governmental organization with general consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

Zonta International promotes and strives to protect the human rights of all women and girls and reduce the incidences of violence against them. Since 1923, Zonta has provided more than US$40.9 million to empower women and expand their access to education, health care, economic opportunities and safe living conditions. Zonta’s nearly 1,200 clubs support local and regional initiatives in 63 countries worldwide.

For details of Zonta’s celebration event : https://zontacityoflondon.org/charity-gala

For information about Zonta’s International Work : https://foundation.zonta.org/

For information about Oasis Community Housing No 3 Refuge: https://www.homeless.org.uk/homeless-england/service/oasis-housing-no-3-peckham


Zonta supports the Chaplaincy at Send Prison
This year is the 100th anniversary of Zonta International. As a part of its celebrations Zonta decided to set aside grants of up to £3,000 to be awarded to worthwhile causes. Zonta Club of Guildford made an application to support the Chaplaincy at Send prison. The Chaplaincy want to set up a series of workshops to educate women about managing finances and tackle problem gambling, the two issues going hand in hand. The Chaplaincy recognises that women are at risk of reoffending if they don't have the necessary skills to deal with money problems on their release.
We learnt during August 2019 that we were successful in our bid and hope to support the prison with this work.
We are looking forward to Jan Hancock speaking at our monthly meeting on 6th November about her experience working as a volunteer in our local women’s prison, HMP Send.

YWPA Winner 2019 - Florence Marks

Florence, second year student at The Sixth Form College Farnborough recently recenved the Young Women in Public Affairs Award from Club President Sue Doughty. Second year student Chloe Williams was the runner up. Florence also won the first prize in the YWPA District Awards, which was just one of three prizes to be won in District 29. The district includes 74 clubs in four areas and nearly 1,800 members from across Europe. She received €1,500 and an invitation to the Zonta Conference in the Netherlands in early October.

Florence said "I'm immensely proud to have won Zonta's Young Women in Public Affairs Award. Zonta is an international organisation that promotes female equality, respect and security from local grass roots programmes to global initiatives at the UN. To be associated with such an inspiring cause is amazing. I am very thankful to the Zonta officials who came into my College, my personal tutor Russell for encouraging me to enter, and my inspirational and supportive teachers.

Pictured below is Florence Marks (second right) and Chloe Williams (middle left)



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