From the 1-9 July we are asking members to hold events in their local community and invite their newly elected MP along to start a conversation about climate change. The Week of Action is for everyone. You don’t need to have spoken to your MP before or even need to know all the facts and figures about climate change – all you need is love for the environment.
This blog features WI members who have had direct experience of engaging their local MP and successfully started a conversation about the climate.
Pat Downes - Barry WI, Glamorgan Federation
After reading a paragraph in our Glamorgan newsletter suggesting we make green hearts, our President requested an action pack from the NFWI. We decided to make small green hearts at our Tuesday afternoon meeting in February. She asked me if I would help our Vice President organise this. I spent the next few days cutting out over a hundred green felt hearts and searching local craft shops for beads, sequins, buttons and threads to decorate them.
About twenty of our members came to the heart making, many of them uttering "I can't sew!" At the end of the session everyone was pleased and proud of their efforts. We decided to wear our hearts at our Tuesday evening meeting in February.
After reading the article, 'Turn Valentine's Day green to tackle climate change' in the February issue of WI Life, I decided to send one of my hearts to our local MP, Secretary of State for Wales, Rt Hon Alun Cairns MP. I attached my heart to the postcard that was enclosed in the magazine, stating that it was for the love of our beautiful Vale. I placed it in an envelope and attached a first class stamp, hoping that he wouldn't have to pay any extra postage!
Imagine my surprise when a few days later I received a phone call from the NFWI asking permission for my phone number to be passed on to Alun Cairns. He wanted to thank me for my green heart. His PA then contacted me to say that he wanted to thank me in person and would it be convenient to call at my home that afternoon.At 2.15pm two cars drew up on my drive and with great trepidation I opened the door to Alun Cairns and his PA Melanie. He immediately put me at my ease, asking many questions about the WI. He read the article in the WI Life and promised he would wear his heart on Valentine's Day to help promote discussion about climate change. I then had to present him with his heart so that Melanie could take our photograph.
The whole experience has subsequently made me a very reluctant celebrity in Barry WI!
Earls Colne WI, Essex Federation
We wanted to convey our concerns about climate change directly to our MP, James Cleverley and felt that he would respond well to an invitation to a coffee morning with, of course, WI cake. We tweaked the timing a little with an earlier start to accommodate his schedule.
Our members responded really well with cakes, bunting and green hearts. Thirty to forty attended with three parish councillors and one county councillor also present. The event started informally with coffee and cake, and then our MP gave a short talk outlining his views and took questions. The questions were very diverse and produced quite a lively debate. He was left in no doubt about our concerns.
Looking back it was quite a simple event to organise. MPs always want to get out there and meet their constituents, even just after an election. Our members responded enthusiastically – so never underestimate your members. It allowed me as a Climate Ambassador to gauge the level of support for the issues and to start making plans for the next event!
Here in Norfolk we have a healthy respect for climate change because of our geography, and we were involved in two memorable events this year.
Saturday 11 February saw a freezing easterly wind blowing down Sheringham High Street straight off the North Sea, resulting in a balmy 4 degrees feeling like minus 6. However, with 300 green hearts to give away Sheringham WI were undaunted and ready to raise awareness of the #showthelove campaign. Some say we discussed the issues so much with locals and holiday makers that we probably contributed to global warming! Our green hearts were, on the whole, received warmly and many were shared on Facebook and with friends. District Councillors came along with the Mayor to receive and share hearts as well as local celebrities.
Sheringham WI’s meeting was on 13th February and we invited Dr Clare Goodess from the University of East Anglia to come and present to us the real threat global warming poses to the world. It brought home how much we have to lose in East Anglia with rising sea levels.
The Norfolk Public Affairs committee ran a “Make a Green Heart” stall at the Forum in Norwich during February half term. 300 green hearts were on display for the visitors to the Form and over 250 children and adults decorated green hearts to share on social media with their families and friends. Glitter, sequins and glue were the order of the day!
The Rt Hon Norman Lamb MP attended the event and stressed how much he supported the WI campaign and how he hoped the 2015 Paris agreement would hold firm with the changes in global politics. He also said that in East Anglia there is a great need to keep global temperature rises to below 2 degrees, as rises above this would have profound implications for sea level rises and increased extreme weather occurrences. He received a heart which he then shared on Twitter.