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Probably the easiest people for me to surprise new people when I meet them is for me to tell them that I’m the President of the Nottingham city branch of the Women’s Institute. They’re all like “What, but you’re not a granny!” (paraphrasing)(Also theoretically I could have been a granny by now, but I would have had to have a kid at 13 and then they do the same…. I’m going off on a tangent!).

People don’t generally expect anyone young to be involved with an organisation like the WI that has such a stereotypical image. Although the image can be staid, the actual Women’s Institute is full of massive variety between different groups, spanning the continiuum between ultra traditional and modern. Our WI doesn’t sing Jerusalem or produce great quantities of homemade jam, but there are plenty that do.

In general, whoever you are, there’s probably a WI that will be a great fit for you – its just a question of trying a few and going with whichever ones the best fit. Another great thing is that you can be as involved or not involved as you like – we have members who just turn up at every meeting, and then we also have people who volunteer to get involved in the organisation of our WI.

Here’s what I personally get out of being a member of the Women’s Institute –

  • I like crafty things. Especially baking. I’m currently pretty hopeless and kitting and sewing and hoping crochet might be more my style!
  • I like learning new things. See above!
  • I wanted the opportunity to meet new people and create a wider social network of women – of different ages and backgrounds. This has been the best thing about the WI for me since I joined. I was able to recruit a few of my existing friends to joining and have also made lots of new friends through the WI. Having the structure of once monthly WI meetings and committee meetings is great as it ensures that I meet up with those friends regularly, which can be hard in the course of everyday life.

If you’d like to come along to the next City WI meeting on June 8th, at the Community Centre on Mansfield Road (NG1 3FN) at 7.30pm. We’ll be having our annual Knit and Natter/Stick and Bitch! meeting so feel free to bring along any knitting, sewing, crocheting or even just a magazine that you’ve been meaning to finish. We finish about 9.30pm.

Me (second left) and other committee members at our October Fete