Monday 24 January 2011

Are you sitting comfortably?

Happy New Year!

We are so looking forward to the first Malago WI meeting of 2011, we can barely contain our excitement. January's meeting (Wednesday 26) will feature an expert story-teller, Martin Maudsley, who will delight us with tales a-plenty before divulging a few secrets of the story-telling world. We'll be budding Jackanory presenters by the end of the evening, no doubt. Coincidentally enough, the week after our meeting is the fifth annual Bristol Storytelling Festival, so if your whistle is well and truly wetted head over there for more of the same.

If you haven't been to a Malago WI meeting before, you can expect fun, friendly folk and the opportunity to learn new skills, all washed down with lashings of tea and cake. Newcomers will be made most welcome - do come along and try us out for size. There's no obligation to join, just come as a guest and see what you think. If you would like to become a 2011 member, the cost is £30 for 11 meetings (no December meeting). Email us for a membership form, bring along a £30 cheque or cash on the night and be prepared to have the last Wednesday in every month exponentially improve your quality of life. If you are already a convert, please help our cause by telling your friends about Malago WI, or bring a friend along. Pick up a poster or some of our beautiful business cards and help us spread the word far and wide.

To get the very latest updates on all matters Malago, please sign up to our mailing list - there's a box over there on the right for you to enter your email address, and we'll pop up in your inbox every now and again. Facebook and Twitter users can also find us in those worlds - again, links on the right there, see?

January is that time of year when WI members are asked to vote on 2011 campaign resolutions (more about campaigns here). You will need your November/December issue of WI Life, as the voting form is on page 37 (with details of the resolutions pages 34-37) - no other format will be counted. Hand your form to Odette McBride at January's meeting, who will forward these to our Federation. This vote whittles down the resolutions to one, which we then vote for or against in April/May. Do let us know if you don't receive WI Life and wish to do so.

As a prominent women's group in Bristol, Malago WI has been asked to take part in the Bristol City Council Women's Voice survey. The Council would like the views of women and women's organisations in the city on the best ways to ensure that women's issues and concerns influence the decisions that are made by public bodies such as the Council, the Primary Care Trust, Bristol Hospital Trust and the Police. Fill out the survey here.

See you for stories and sweet treats soon,
Malago WI x

The history of Malago WI

Malago WI - the inaugural meeting

Malago Women's Institute began in October 2008. President Karen Bowers and Vice President Lottie Storey met while pregnant and became good friends during their maternity leave. Their antenatal group became a close-knit support group, just one of many similar groups of women in south Bristol and indeed across the land. When it came to return to work, Karen and Lottie wanted to preserve some of this camaraderie which proved so vital during the more testing child-rearing times - a striking parallel with the original aims of the very first WI 111 years previously.

Karen and Lottie decided to form Malago WI to provide a focus for all women in the community to come together each month, learn new skills, meet friends and generally have a jolly time. Joined by eight capable friends who together formed the first committee, Malago WI took off, buoyed by the renewed interest in the WI that was sweeping the country at the time. Since then, Malago WI has programmed exciting and diverse meetings and welcomed 15 speakers, over 200 women, and continues to provide a focal point for all women to meet up each month in south Bristol.

Malago WI hopes the original values we started with still lie at the heart of everything we do. That heart is filled with joy to see there are so many women out there who get as much pleasure from Malago WI as we do.

Sunday 23 January 2011

Malago WI fundraising

In order to fund our monthly meetings, Malago WI has to undertake regular fundraising activities. Previously these have included the Best of Bedminster show, the Southbank Art Trail, the Tobacco Factory Christmas Market and others.

We rely on the generosity of our members, who make cakes and other products to sell, help with logistics/buying/selling/sourcing materials, as well as staffing stalls and making tea. Without this support, we could not take part in these activities, and we regularly request help at meetings for this sort of thing.

If you would like Malago WI's Marmalade Cafe to provide our famed tea and cakes at your event, please get in touch:

WI campaigning – a potted history and process

The Women’s Institute has its origins in Canada. Following the avoidable death of her infant due to contaminated milk, Adelaide Hoodless set about campaigning for domestic science to be taught in schools. She addressed a group of farmer’s wives in 1897, who were inspired to form the first WI, mirroring the ‘Farmers Institute’ and including an educational programme.
The organisation grew rapidly and was replicated in Britain from 1915. It was backed by government for the duration of the First World War, with a remit to promote domestic food production. 

Over the years the Women’s Institute (WI) has campaigned on a wide range of issues that matter to women and their communities, including Equal Pay in 1942, Breast Cancer Screening in 1975, Aids in 1986 and the introduction of new legislation EU to reduce the threat of hazardous chemicals in everyday products in 2006. Today our campaigns range from climate change and ending violence against women to the plight of the honey bee.

Every year WI members have the chance to put forward issues or ‘resolutions’ that they would like the national body to campaign on. These resolutions go through a year long debating and consultation process by the membership. Once the resolutions have been short-listed by the membership a select number are chosen for discussion at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) in June. If passed, these then become mandates and form the basis of campaigning activities in the years ahead. This process ensures that our campaigns have been through a democratic process involving all members and come from the grassroots of the organisation.

The Public Affairs Department carries out the campaigning, lobbying, policy and research work of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI). The department aims to ‘enable WI members to turn their concerns into campaigns, and thus bring influence to bear on decision-makers and opinion-formers about local, national and international issues.’ We achieve this through the resolution/ mandate process. The department represent the NFWI at a national level with policy-makers, produce supporting notes for resolutions and material and information to raise awareness, enable all members to lobby and campaign, and to take personal action on the mandate.

The national resolutions process is as follows:

Resolution submission form sent to WIs.
Resolution submission deadline.

The ‘long-list’ of resolutions is sifted and reduced to a ‘short-list’ of approximately 10 
resolutions. The sifting is done by a committee made up of federations representatives
(rotated between feds), NFWI officers, members of the Public Affairs committee.
The short-list of resolutions competed with background notes are published for members to 
Members have the opportunity to vote for their preferred resolution by completing the 
voting slips received through WI Life. These should be handed to rep within their WI, who 
then forwards them to the Federation by 31st January.
WIs discuss the final resolution and individual members use their voting slips received via 
WI Life to either support or oppose the resolution becoming a mandate.
The resolution is discussed and voted on at the AGM. WIs are represented.

Federations and individual WIs are also able to campaign as they see fit. They should be selected democratically and approved by the organisation, which is both non-partisan and secular.

If members have a concern that they would like turning into a campaign, either at local, federation or national level, then speak out and let your committee know.