On Wednesday 7th June WI members from across the country descended on Liverpool for our Annual Meeting. This year former president Lorna attended on behalf of West Ealing WI and a few other groups from Middlesex Federation, and this is her report.
2017 Annual Meeting
The meeting opened with the usual rousing Jerusalem and a welcome from the Mayor of Liverpool. Janice Langley emphasised her commitment to reducing the gap between NFWI and the membership in her final Chair’s Address and it was good to be reminded of the work undertaken of the last few years by the board to meet the members. She was excited to announce the new online membership space, My WI, and was positive and cautiously optimistic about Denman. The Treasurer described the finances as “a good foundation garment: holding everything together and pointing in the right
The first resolution to be discussed was loneliness. The proposer called for us to work to embed strategies with local service providers and raise awareness of the impact. Marcus Rand from the Campaig to End Loneliness said that loneliness has such an observable impact on health and wellbeing, increasing likelihood of mortality by 26%, that
if it were visible we’d have taken action by now. The rebuttal suggested that loneliness is part of the human condition and cannot be treated directly, instead the causes need investigation. The response from the floor was mixed. There were moving stories from
women who had faced the common situations that can cause loneliness who were significantly helped by joining the WI. There were also strong arguments against this resolution particularly around the wording and the identification of lonely people and this was reflected in what turned out to be a close vote.
We had an inspiring talk from the founder of Green & Black’s chocolate who thanked us for being part of her success: the WI, Oxfam and Christian Aid were the first organisations to back the Fairtrade initiative. One of the villages supplying G&B cocoa now has 80% of its children achieving secondary education, up from zero before Fairtrade so how we shop really can make a difference.
After lunch and the announcement of the 2017-2019 NFWI board we returned to the resolutions: microplastic fibres in our oceans. Dr Natalie Weldon became everyone’s new hero with her fantastic talk about her research in the Clyde on the impacts of marine micro plastic pollution. Domestic washing fibres are the largest source of pollution, making up to 30% of the stomach volume of surveyed langoustine. Natalie said that this problem can be tackled at home through extra washing machine filters and wearing natural fibres, and through political lobbying for better filtration at water treatment facilities, and commercial lobbying for plastics with quicker degradation. There wasn’t a rebuttal and the comments from the floor were wholeheartedly in favour of the resolution. There was an excitement in
the room about being a leader of the campaign, but also caution that we don’t cause more problems in fixing the problem. Bamboo was cited as a natural fibre that actually uses a high amount of energy and water to produce and is therefore not a sustainable alternative.
Susie Dent of Countdown Dictionary Corner provided entertainment with talk of malaphors, incorrect metaphors such as “we’ll burn that bridge when we come to it”, and eggcorns, misheard words and phrases that replace their originals. “Trending towards” is currently replacing the original “tending towards”. If you’re worried about the degradation of the English language, Susie instead thinks it is incredibly exciting and gave examples that this has been happening for centuries.
The Retros played out the meeting, having entertained the WI at Denman College, they had the WI ladies dancing in the aisles and I left the meeting with a huge smile on my face!
Thanks for attending on our behalf, Lorna! The NFWI have put up some videos from the day covering many of the discussion – the morning session is below, and you can find the afternoon session here.
As Lorna said above, both of this year’s resolutions passed! They are:
This meeting calls on every WI and the NFWI to work alongside health and social care providers and their local communities to raise awareness of the causes and impacts of loneliness, thus ensuring better identification of lonely people in order to be able to offer them the appropriate support and assistance.
North Cave WI, East Yorkshire Federation
The resolution was passed with 69.3% of the vote.
Plastic soup: Keep microplastic fibres out of our oceans
Microplastic fibres are shed from synthetic clothing with every wash and are the main contributors to microplastic contamination of the oceans. The NFWI calls on Government and industry to research and develop innovative solutions to this problem in order to stop the accumulation of microplastic fibres in our oceans.
Ashley Green WI, Buckinghamshire Federation
The resolution was passed with 98.9% of the vote.
We’d love any thoughts you have on what we as a WI can do around these resolutions to bring about positive change in our community!