Monday, 23 May 2011

The WI in action

WI history in action
Last week I attended my own WI’s Group Meeting; a collection of between four and six WIs meeting together, once or twice a year, to enjoy a particular speaker – this time we heard about the life and works of William Morris – and learn about the highlights of each WI. Our host WI was celebrating its 90th year and on the front row were two members who were at the inaugural meeting all those years ago. Of course, they were very little girls at the time, but they have been part of this wonderful organisation all that time.

Something that could also have happened all those years ago is gardening in schools. I am interested in this because my father, a young teacher in the mid 1950s, cultivated a garden with pupils taking part and learning the ways of the soil and the best means of ensuring plentiful crops. Gardening in schools really should become the norm and I have a place on a task-force that will do its very best to bring this about. One of the many reasons behind the formation of the WI was to grow food for the country during the years of World War 1. I know many WI members who have shared their love for gardening and green-fingered skills with school children, and I hope that this will continue for many more years to share and promote the benefits of eating fruit and vegetables.

Campaigning update
The WI is hoping and trusting that many benefits will be reaped following the introduction of 100 diversion schemes, promised by the Health Secretary at the WI and Prison Reform Trust Care Not Custody reception in late March. A collection of 22 organisations, including the NFWI as well as the Prison Reform Trust; Prison Governors’ Association; The Royal College of Nursing; Revolving Doors; Action for Prisoners’ Families; and Keyring Living Support Networks will all work together to monitor the progress and outcome of the commitment. I chaired a gathering of this amazing collection of organisations on Thursday to explore next steps – collectively there is the will so there will be a way to ensure ‘diversion’ is a mainstream initiative in the criminal justice system in the future.

And speaking of the future, a swishing session at the NFWI’s first Fast Fashion event saw a new future for one of my once favourite dress and jacket outfits. It has a new owner who might wear it as it is, or even give it a new lease of life either with embellishment or the scissors! The event on Saturday afternoon highlighted the mass production of ‘fast fashion’ items that carry hidden environmental and social impacts, and asked members to consider the demand for virgin resources such as water, oil and cottons when some clothing is produced on such a huge scale, and demand that living wages be paid to the people who make the garments. To find out more about the campaign, visit the website – or contact the NFWI Public Affairs team on 02073719300.