Wednesday 7 June 2017
Liverpool Echo Arena
The morning started with a rousing rendition of Jerusalem, followed by a warm welcome from the Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, who told the assembled a bit about the city of Liverpool highlighting that many of the influential roles were held by women.
Then it was onto official business with the appointment of returning officers and tellers, adoption of standing orders and then the Chair’s address.
Current Chair, Janice Langley, advised that over recent years the board had been working on narrowing the gap between NFWI and members, and to do so, the board had been out on the road to meet members and Federations. She even commented that once she had retired she was going to buy a map and mark off everywhere that she had visited as a result of the WI.
NFWI had also provided financial support to help increase membership, and in the last 4 years membership has gone from 212,000 to 225,085, which is an incredible increase. Obviously for various reasons, some members had left, but the figures show that there are many new members.
Communication is key to meeting the requirements of new members, and so the various forms available must all be used to achieve this. Starting on, or around the 12 June, My WI, the new members only part of the website will be launched, and all members who have provided an email address will receive a log on in the coming weeks. The WI moodle will return to being a training platform, everything else for members will feature on My WI.
The recent questionnaire highlighted that only 35% of members would like to see Denman funded by subscriptions, however the Saving Denman appeal has been very successful and to date has raised £360,000. Next year, a Denman book will be published and all proceeds will go to Denman.
The Hon Treasurer’s statement advised that the year ending 30 September 2016 had been a successful year.
The recent questionnaire revealed that 88% of members think that the subscription is good value for money.
Denman has already met it’s booking target for the current financial year.
A full financial report is available at each federation office and can be requested from NFWI.
The Resolution for Alleviating Loneliness heard arguments for both sides, and some members highlighted that the WI already is fantastic at helping those in the community and welcoming new members. It was passed with a 69.3% majority and WI’s will receive further information and guidance from national in due course.
The second resolution took place after lunch and discussed the reasons to support Plastic Soup: Keep micro plastic fibres out of oceans. There was a very passionate delivery from Dr Natalie Welden who was researching the topic and highlighted how we could help. There was not an argument against and the resolution was passed with 6,132 votes for and only 157 against. Many members have already started looking into what we can do to hep, and again, information will soon be available.
We were treated to two fantastic guest speakers, the morning session welcomed Jo Fairley, author and co-founder of Green & Black’s organic chocolate. Having left school at 16 with 6 O levels, and motivation to achieve due to a comment from her careers teacher, she became the youngest magazine editor at 23, and then went on to set up Green & Blacks, now considered a cooler brand than Prada. It was the first company to use the Fair-trade logo, thanks to the WI, and as a result received some brilliant promotion from a group of running Priests, which helped get it onto all the highstreet shelves. The company has provided fantastic support to it’s suppliers, helping 80% of children attend secondary school.
The guest speaker for the afternoon was Susie Dent from Dictionary Corner on Countdown.
We discovered that her favourite book growing up was a language phrase book. It was great to learn the history behind certain words, linking words and also Susie’s favourite and least favourite words. She also went home with a new word, bi-stitual, as provided by a WI member. There was also time for questions from the floor.
It was then time to announce the NFWI board for 2017 – 2019, and we were advised that after 4 years as chair, and 15 years on the board, Janice Langley was stepping down. Thanks and a standing ovation were given for her service.
The afternoon concluded with a cover band called The Retros who played some local classic hit tunes, and there were many a member dancing in the isle, before singing the anthems.