Thursday, 24 August 2017

Link Together: How you can take part in the NFWI’s campaign to alleviate loneliness

Our new campaign seeks to inspire WI members to take action on loneliness and share innovative ways of engaging with others who may be lonely.

While it can be hard to tell if someone is experiencing loneliness, there are many ways to let the members of your WI or federation as well as friends, family and people in your community know that you care.

Take time to be kind on World Kindness Day

That’s why we’re encouraging members to take the time to be kind on World Kindness Day on 13 November. If you’re looking for some ideas on how to get involved, why not make a pledge to do something kind for someone else? Could you offer to make someone a cup of tea, pay someone a compliment or even volunteer your time in your local community? Do-it is the UK’s national volunteering database and can help you to find opportunities near you – just type in your post code or town at

You could also hold a pledge event to highlight how the members of your WI or federation are taking part in World Kindness Day and taking action to support people who may be lonely. Why not decorate your event using our bunting template which you can fill in with your pledge of kindness? Simply download the campaign action pack and get crafting!

If you’re interested in taking action within your WI or federation, you might like to have a look at our basic guide (below). The WI has a long history of supporting and reaching out to people in the community and so we know that many members will have already embarked on great projects that aim to tackle the issue of loneliness. If this sounds like your WI, let us know what you think of these suggestions and if you have any further ideas on what more WIs and federations could be doing to reach out to members and non-members.

You can also share your experiences and ideas on how loneliness is best tackled by taking part in our short online survey which can be accessed here: The survey will be open until 31 October 2017. 

There are lots of other ways you can get involved and help to make a difference. Are you interested in how local health services are tackling loneliness in your area? If so, why not contact your Health and Wellbeing Board in England, Public Services Board in Wales or Local Health Board in Wales to find out what steps they are taking? To help you get started, visit the LinkTogether page of the My WI website (under the ‘Public Affairs and Campaigns’ tab) to download a template letter or contact the Public Affairs Department at

To find out more about the Link Together campaign, download the action pack here or login to My WI (

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Yellow Ribbons & Hearts for Grenfell - WI Members Support the Missing

Guest blog post by Joanne Croxford and Melissa Russell, Gothic Valley WI (Middlesex Federation)

A wonderful gesture to counterbalance a disaster - members of the WI have donated their time and love in the shape of handmade ribbons and hearts to decorate the area surrounding Grenfell Tower.

The idea was born after we attended the peaceful protest alongside survivors of the tragedy which launched the Justice 4 Grenfell campaign. It was there, walking shoulder to shoulder with our community and those directly affected, that the call for the WI's history of coming to the aid of those most vulnerable in their society was heard at its most clear.

At this point, we were volunteering a lot of our time to the community's effort to support locally and sharing this on our social media pages which resulted in many WI members from far and wide contacting us to ask how they too could be a part of the movement to heal Grenfell's community. 

It was too early to ascertain how WI members could practically support Grenfell's residents, so we did exactly what WI members do best and decided to get knitting/crocheting to support the #YellowRibbonForGrenfellMissing campaign which has emerged with the yellow ribbon, the internationally recognised symbol for the missing, being worn by locals and hung in the area surrounding Grenfell. 

We were compelled to make an appeal on social media to fellow WI members to do the same and mobilise their best crafting efforts - expressing the urgency for donated handmade items to ensure that the community felt the love and support in the immediate aftermath of this terrible tragedy. 

Members had less than two weeks to get making yellow hearts and ribbons and the response was truly heartwarming. Homemade hearts and ribbons began pouring in from all corners of the globe ahead of our decided date of 3rd July to hang all contributions directly next to the Grenfell site. Members from the #hearts4ldn group were in touch, too, who had already been involved in making hearts as a response to the Manchester and London terror attacks for members of the public to take with them for the public to take with them from the sites of as a gesture of love and support. We combined forces and the envelopes began arriving filled with love in the truest form in the brightest of yellow.

On 3rd July we came together with representatives from both #YellowRibbons4GrenfellMissing and #hearts4ldn with other local volunteers to hang the amazing efforts of our fellow WI members outside the Notting Hill Methodist Church directly next to Grenfell Tower. 

What happened next was literally one of the most humbling experiences we have ever experienced. Locals emerged from their homes, hugged and cried with many of us with the greatest of thanks to all WI members for their gesture of love and support. Twitter and Facebook have been alive with messages from locals praising our efforts and representatives of those directly affected have touched base to show their gratitude directly, too.

What's next? Locals have invited us to increase our efforts and continue to decorate the area, using the power of yarn to connect the wonderful community centres through locally which have been pivotal in providing much needed provisions for Grenfell's survivors. Never one to deny a challenge, we are appealing to WI members all over the country to take part in any way they are able to raise awareness around those still missing from Grenfell in the form of more handmade donations or by spreading the word that the memorial exists and urging members to visit.

We are planning to begin a ‘freshen up’ of the memorial so will be returning to the site monthly to see that new donations are added and those weathered replaced.

All we ask is that knitted donations are created using synthetic yarn to respect certain religious faiths in their belief of representation of living matter. 

If you would like to contribute to the initiative, please email or 

We would like to add how very proud we are that members of the WI who have thus far been involved have done exactly what we do best - binding a community in turmoil with true gestures of love and gratitude.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

NFWI Resolutions Process

As you may be aware, the NFWI has been conducting a review to consider ways to improve the resolutions process. Feedback has been received from members, WIs and federations, and the NFWI has already made a number of changes to improve the process.

Much of the feedback received concerns the timings at shortlist stage, which for many WIs does not currently allow them enough time to consider the resolutions.

In response to these concerns, the NFWI has decided to pilot an alteration to the timings for shortlist stage for the 2017/18 process. This change will allow the most possible time for members to consider resolutions at shortlist stage and aims to allow more members to engage in this important stage of the process.

The changes to the process are explained in more detail below, but in brief they are:

  • One organisation-wide deadline of 9th February 2018 will be set by the NFWI for selections to arrive with federations;
  • This deadline will be publicised in WI Life so that all members know when they must send their selections to their federation;
  • Federations collate and count selections between 9th and 16th February, and must send in tallied results to the NFWI by close of play on 16th February 2018
  • The role of federations in counting selections will be simplified, offering federations a range of options to receive and count selections in the simplest way possible;
  • The NFWI will extend its own internal deadlines to allow as much time as possible for members to consider their shortlist selections.

A full timetable for the 2017/18 resolutions process is at the bottom of this blog post.

Benefits of the change

  • This system will allow all WIs the longest possible time to make their selections at shortlist stage, and will ensure that every WI has at least the whole of December and January to do this;
  •  It directly addresses the most commonly raised concern about the process from members;
  • It improves communication about the process as it allows this date to be printed in WI Life, ensuring that every WI member will know the deadline for their selections to be received by their federation.

The changes in detail

The NFWI has set an organisation-wide deadline for shortlist selections to be sent to federations. This date is 9th February 2018.

This change has been made in response to concerns expressed by members who often say that they do not have enough time to consider the resolutions in their meetings. This change means that every WI will have, at a minimum, their December and January meetings to consider the resolutions.

Federations will then have a week (9th-16th February) to count selections and report their results to the NFWI. Please see below for guidance about the responsibilities of federations in counting selections.

The NFWI has been able to extend this timeline because the NFWI Board of Trustees have agreed to consider the selection results remotely, rather than at the February Board meeting, and by lengthening WI Life copy deadlines.

What is the role of federations in counting selections?

It is clear that federations are adopting a number of different approaches to counting selections. This guidance is designed to clarify this role to ensure that the process of counting selections is as smooth and easy as possible for federations to undertake.

Federations are not required to verify selections received from WIs by checking forms for signatures, or by only accepting the original forms from WI Life.

Selections can be accepted by federations in a variety of ways – this is not limited to the selection form in WI Life. Selections can be submitted:

  • On the form included within WI Life, or a photocopy of the form;
  • A representative from each WI (such as the Secretary) can provide the total selections for each resolution by phone, post or email.

By adopting this approach to receiving and counting selections, federations can reduce the time needed to undertake this task.

How can federations count selections as efficiently as possible?

We hope that by clarifying the role of federations at selection stage, the process for counting selections will be simpler and less time-consuming.

Federations may also wish to consider using an electronic tool such as SurveyMonkey which can also be a very quick and easy way to count selections as all the work is done for you. Each WI can submit their selection results online, and the system calculates the totals for you.

Any WIs that do not have online access can send their selections in the usual way, and the federation can input them into the survey tool quickly and easily. Once every WI has input their results, the totals can be viewed by the federation by logging in.

The NFWI Public Affairs Department can support any federations who wish to trial collecting shortlist selection results in this way by producing a standard template survey. If you would like to trial this system during 2017/18 please do let us know.

What is the role of WIs in the selection stage?

WIs should ensure each member has the opportunity to cast an individual selection, and can use a flexible approach to achieve this.

WIs can ensure members can submit their selections by offering a range of ways to do this:

  • Completing the form from WI Life or a photocopy of the form during a meeting;
  •  Allowing members to submit their selection direct to the WI secretary via post, email or telephone;
  • Conducting a secret ballot at a WI meeting;
  • Collecting selections using electronic tools, such as via email or using a survey tool like SurveyMonkey.

It is the responsibility of the WI to keep a record of the number of selections cast for each resolution.

What is the NFWI doing to ensure WIs can take part in the selection process?

In addition to this change, the NFWI has produced a wider range of supporting materials to enable WIs to consider shortlisted resolutions. These materials include:
  • More engaging briefing notes;
  • Powerpoint presentations that can be used to present each issue in your WI;
  • Online and printable quizzes to test your knowledge;
  • Resolution discussions guide;
  • A frequently asked questions document.
All supporting materials for the 2016/17 shortlist selection process were published on the NFWI website during the first week of November, significantly in advance of the arrival of WI Life.

We aim to continue this commitment for the 2017/18 process, with a range of materials available from the first week of November. This means that WIs that meet in the middle or end of November can discuss the resolutions then if they wish.

These materials will continue to be promoted via the Public Affairs Digest e-newsletter, social media and in WI Life. Please do pass on details of these resources to WIs in your federation.

What other changes has the NFWI made to improve the resolutions process?

The NFWI has made the following changes to make it easier for members to get involved in the resolutions process:
  • New submission materials including a clearer timetable document, updated resolution submission form and clearer explanatory notes to support WIs who wish to put together a resolution;
  • More support and guidance offered to federation Resolutions Advisers and proposers prior to resolution submission;
  • Promotional campaign to encourage WIs to submit resolutions, including infographics for social media and blogposts from resolution proposers of successful campaigns;
  • Online submission option introduced;
  •  Where possible the Public Affairs Department agreed revised wording for resolutions prior to the shortlist selection stage;
  • Revised approach to the shortlist selection meeting to support federation representatives to make their decision;
  •  Guidance note on potential next steps provided to all unsuccessful proposers, and detailed feedback provided to those who requested it;
  • More engaging resolutions materials provided in a range of formats, including consistent format and structure, explanation about how the WI could work on the issue if it was passed;
  • Online content to support resolution discussions including videos and social media Q&As to answer member questions.
Should you have any questions about this change, please contact the Public Affairs Department on 020 7371 9300 or

NFWI Resolution timetable 2017/18
This timetable gives all of the major dates and deadlines for the 2017/18 resolutions process. Please use this to plan your meetings within your WI or federation. In addition, information will regularly be added to the NFWI website ( and the Moodle.

1 July 2017
Resolution submission forms sent to federations and WIs.
15 September 2017
Closing date for resolutions to be submitted to the NFWI – federation deadlines may be earlier.
25 September 2017
Federation shortlisting representatives notified of details of resolution shortlist selection meeting. Resolutions longlist circulated.
2 October 2017
Federation representatives meet to compile shortlist of resolutions, supported by NFWI trustees and staff as appropriate.
1 Nov 2017
Shortlist resolution resources including videos and PowerPoint presentations published on NFWI website
17 Nov 2017
WI Life
Shortlisted resolutions, paragraphs of essential facts and points, and selection slip appear in November issue of WI Life.
December & January
Federations and WIs hold meetings to discuss the shortlisted resolutions. Members select the resolution they support the most.
9 Feb 2018
Deadline for resolution selection results to be returned to your Federation. (Check arrangements for this with your WI Secretary)
16 Feb 2018
Deadline for Federations to return tallied selection results to the NFWI
Late Feb 2018
NFWI Board of Trustees finalises resolution/s for
2018 Annual Meeting agenda, based on the number of selections from WI members.
1 April 2018
Annual Meeting resolution/s briefings and wording sent to federations, WIs and WI Advisers.
April 2018
WI Life
Annual Meeting resolution/s published in WI Life.
April & May 2018
Federations and WIs hold meetings to discuss the AM resolution/s. WIs vote for or against each resolution.
4 May 2018
Deadline for resolution amendments and urgency resolutions sent to the NFWI.
June 2018
Vote on resolution/s held at the Annual Meeting.
If you would like to get up to date news and information about the resolutions process and WI campaigns in general, sign up to the NFWI public affairs digest through the website.


Friday, 9 June 2017

Speak Up Week of Action 1-9 July 2017

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!

Norfolk Federation

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. 

Please email for more information on how you can get involved.