Every month the West Suffolk Federation sends out a mailing containing information regarding what is happening within the Federation this month. If you have provided your email address to the secretary this information will be sent to you. You can also access it here, and in paper format at our monthly meetings.
Letters to WI groups can also be accessed here.
May 2018 mailing - find out more details of each event - available at monthly meetings ....
Fly Rights Show - Saturday 14 July 2018 @ Culford School Tickets £20
WI team training - Friday 29 June 2018 or Monday 2 July 2018 @ 7.00pm WI Headquarters, Unit 11, Park Farm
St Edmundsbury Cathedral Tower Tour & Cream Tea - Thursday 16 August 2018 @ 1.30pm
Taverham & Felbrigg Hall & Gardens - 17 September 2018. National Trust members £25, non-National Trust members £35
Whist luncheon - 9 September 2018 @ 10.00 - WI headquarters, Unit 11, Park Farm
Christmas Fused Glass Workshop - Tuesday 6 November 2018 @ WI headquarters 10.30am - 12.30 pm
Christmas Craft Dabble Days - Monday 8 October 2018 at Sturmer Village Hall and Friday 12 December at WI headquarters. 10.00am - 3.00pm £20 members
John Rutter Christmas Celebration - Tuesday 4 December 2018 at the Royal Albert Hall, London @ 3.00pm - £40 members (tickets and coach fare)
Carol Concert - Monday 10 December 2018 - St Mary's Church, Bury St Edmunds @ 7.30pm
MH Cup Competition 2018 - Invisible Disabilities - Find out how you can help.
Co-operative Cup Competition
WI diary - order by 17 July 2018 - £4.70
Denman visit - Sunday 24 March 2018 to Monday 25 March 2019 - £185 per person
As usual Park Farm have been busy preparing exciting things for WI members which include the following:
April 20th 2.30pm @ Park, Farm Introduction to using Ebay £5
May 11th /12th 10am-12.30 Park Farm/ Sturmer, Needle felting £TBA
June 19th 09.45-noon @ Jubilee Ctr. Mildenhall, Health and well being £1.50.
42nd Street Show trip is now FULL
All notices will be available for viewing at the meeting as usual.
To: Federation Secretaries
CC: Federation Chairmen
NFWI board of Trustees
NFWI Senior staff
05 February 2018
I am writing to you on behalf of the NFWI Board of Trustees following the recent negative press reports. Like us, I’m sure you’re saddened to have read about so much negative feeling towards the WI, but I wanted to let you know that these articles are based on many factual errors. We have in fact written to the Editor of the Daily Mail pointing out the inaccuracies, but to date no retraction has been printed nor was mention made in the most recent article of the many letters of support for the WI organisation which members have sent to the Daily Mail.
We don’t believe that the national press is the right platform for debate about internal issues, but I assure you that the question of subscriptions is always very carefully considered by the NFWI Board, in consultation with federation officers, and the financial needs of all levels of the organisation are taken into account. This has resulted in WIs keeping half of the increase to this year’s subscription, as we know that many WIs, particularly smaller WIs, find it increasingly difficult to cover their costs. If your WI falls into this category, we’d urge you to seek help from your federation’s team of WI Advisers, as they will be able to help you with ways you can keep costs down as well as suggest fundraising ideas, which will not only increase your income but will provide events for your members and your community to enjoy. WIs have always been encouraged to fundraise to supplement their income, and for many WIs this is a central part of membership. This year alone we have seen WIs get creative in an incredible array of fundraising schemes, showing that WI members are as resourceful and active as ever. We know that some of our members have restricted budgets, but we also know that federations do their best to help WIs give their members excellent value for money. We will shortly be starting discussions about next year’s subscription and we will certainly take all views into account.
Far from losing members, the WI today is flourishing, with approximately 222,000 members, and almost 30,000 new members joining last year alone (Oct 2016-Sept 2017).
Much was made in the articles about the location of the London office. The NFWI office is described as an “elegant HQ” and later an “exorbitant office”. Nobody who has visited the office would describe it as such, indeed it is a very modest space, and this view is always voiced by members who visit for our open days or for other meetings or training. The location is also described as “such an expensive part of London”, but is considerably less so than anywhere in central London, where a lot of charities have their head offices. This property is also owned by the NFWI so there is no rent to pay.
The question of relocation to Denman is not viable. Office accommodation at Denman is very limited, and we know we would not get planning permission to build additional space in the grounds. Having more staff at Denman would also detract from the ambience of the college, and take away space for courses and accommodation. The cost of relocating staff and travel costs would also negate the one off profit if we were to sell our premises in London.
The article claims the WI cannot afford to keep running Denman and that money is wasted on it. This is not true. None of the WI subscription goes towards the upkeep of Denman. As trustees we are committed to keeping Denman open as long as courses are filling and Denman is making sufficient, albeit modest, profits. Denman is currently doing very well, with courses filling up and lots of positive PR, but we have always been very open about the future of Denman, and the situation is constantly reviewed. As you are aware there is currently a member-led fundraising appeal for the ongoing maintenance of the house and grounds, which has so far raised an impressive £537,980 (since it started in April 2016). This is organised entirely by members, and is testament to how much members love Denman.
WI Life was also mentioned in the article. WI Life brings in a great deal of revenue for the WI from its advertising, far more than it costs to produce. Indeed membership costs would be far higher without WI Life. It is also an invaluable communication tool, and the only communication which reaches every member. The purpose of WI Life is to share with WI members the far-ranging interests and activities of the WI and to showcase the amazing stories of WI members around the country. The feedback we get from members about WI Life is overwhelmingly positive. Also, most of the advertisers have been using the magazine for many years, which would not be the case if WI members did not respond.
The NFWI Board of Trustees, like your federation trustees, are all volunteers. We are members just like you: we regularly attend our own WI meetings when possible and we take our turn with doing the refreshments and putting out the chairs. As charity trustees we have a legal obligation to do the best we possibly can for the WI. We are bound by charity law, as well as all the other legal obligations any organisation has. Board and committee members are paid expenses, but it is only right that reasonable expenses are paid to those who give up their time for the WI. We have strict guidelines about expense claims and these are always checked by our staff members.
We have paid staff in London, Wales and Denman, but I can assure you that we do not pay them exorbitant salaries, and in fact the Daily Mail did admit in the article that in terms of the charity sector our salaries were by no means excessive. Our staff are dedicated and choose to work for us because of our ethos and ideals, and many staff members have been with us for several years. Most federations also employ staff, and again they are paid modest salaries.
Since the publication of the articles, we have received many emails, letters and messages of support for the NFWI and for that we are very grateful. We know that the majority of members feel that the WI is a fantastic organisation and the subscription offers great value for money.
I want to reassure you that the NFWI Board always has members’ interests at heart and we are doing our best to keep our wonderful organisation as vibrant and forward-looking as it always has been over the last 103 years.
I’m very honoured to have been invited to several events by federations, and indeed WIs, celebrating their centenaries this year, and I look forward to meeting many of you at these and other events over the coming months.
With best wishes,
Dear President, Treasurer and Fellow Members
Pooling of Accommodation for the NFWI Annual Meeting in Cardiff on 6th June 2018
It has been brought to my attention that some of you are unhappy at being invoiced for £50 to cover the Pooling of Accommodation for the NFWI Annual General Meeting. This prompted us to re-evaluate the calculations for this event and I think perhaps a further explanation is needed on this.
You and I as WI members are primarily members of our own WI, we are then a part of the Suffolk West Federation and we are all in turn affiliated to the National Federation of WIs (NFWI). As such we are obliged to send delegates to the NFWI Annual Meeting.
The NFWI Annual Meeting is held each year in early June, it was once always located in the Royal Albert Hall London, however over the years calls were made for it to move round the country and the NFWI acceded to this request. It has since been held in Liverpool, Leeds, Birmingham, Brighton, Cardiff and will next year be in Bournemouth in addition to the Albert Hall where the centenary meeting was held in 2015 in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen. This benefits many areas of the mainland being held in the north, south, midlands and Wales. The cost of hiring the Albert Hall has also increased considerably compared to other equally good venues. For us of course our nearest location is London and when it is held at the Albert Hall, we can easily get to the meeting and back in a day by coach. The other locations are too far to allow this with the meeting starting in the morning and finishing around 4.30pm, the travelling time taken to get home necessitates a stop for supper making it very late on arrival back to the drop off points in Suffolk. We do not consider dropping members off to make their way home at around midnight, which it could well be, to be acceptable.
Every year the Board of Trustees, Advisers and staff give considerable time to finding the best, most economic and suitable way to transport members to and from the venue and whether we can manage with a one night or make it a two night stop over. It was decided last year when it was held at the Echo Arena Liverpool, that we would go up the night before, stay overnight in a hotel very close to the venue and travel back immediately after the meeting, stopping for a meal on the way home. Even though a pleasurable two days, some members were exhausted after the full day and journey and there is always the worry that we will hit hold ups which puts the driver out of his or her driving hours which in turn causes considerable problems with having to send back up drivers to relieve the one who is out of hours. We generally use Simonds Coaches as they give us an excellent service and they are very strict, quite rightly on their driver’s hours.
It was therefore decided that with Cardiff being slightly further in distance but also not so easily accessible, we would be sensible to stay two nights. This does however, increase the cost of the hotel. We obtained a good deal at The Village Hotel, Cardiff, which is of a good but not extravagant quality. The entire stay is then calculated per person for two nights on a dinner, bed and breakfast basis, this in turn is then multiplied by the number of delegates attending the meeting and equally divided by the WIs
in the Federation, which at the time was 62. Unfortunately, this we now realise having checked again was miscalculated and in addition to the 15 delegate places accounted for, the two Federation Representatives and the Federation Steward were also added on in error. We have now re-calculated
the cost and I am pleased to inform you that this is reduced to £41 per WI. Thank you to those WIs who have already paid this amount, you will receive a credit for the extra £9 against your account which can be used to pay towards the £10 training fee that you were informed of last month, those who have not paid please only pay the revised figure of £41. Thank you to those who of you who pointed out a sharp increase in the contribution which prompted us to look at these figures again. I apologise for the error which occurred and any inconvenience this may have caused you but we are all human.
We of course appreciate that WIs vary in number of members and we considered various ways in which the cost could be disbursed between WIs and it was still felt that it was fairest to all to divide the amount equally. Each WI at some point has had and will have an equal opportunity to provide a delegate to the meeting at one of the locations, distributed as fairly as possible using a linking list. Please note that we will be reviewing this again for the 2019 meeting in Bournemouth.
I trust that I have addressed the issues surrounding the costs of sending delegates to the NFWI Annual Meeting fully and honestly. The Board and Advisers are all unpaid volunteers and as I said at the Autumn Council Meeting, just ordinary WI members and we want the best for our own WIs every bit as much as you want the best for yours.
If I can be of further assistance to you regarding this, please write to or email me at the office, the contact details are on the letter head.
I look forward to seeing you at one of our events very soon and remain.
H Julie Higgins
H Julie Higgins
Suffolk West Federation of WIs
January Mailing from SWFWI.
1. NFWI Elizabeth Bell photographic Comp. WIs to submit collection of photos depicting the year of their WI.
2. Denman Web site now available www.denman.org.uk
3. Flyrights Concert at Culford School – Sat 14th July.
4. Play Reading at Park Farm - February 5th 12 noon. Tickets £6 each
5. Fused Glass workshop – Full
6. Orchid Festival @ Kew Gardens - February 15th. Tickets mbrs £35 non mbrs £38.
7. Call for actors and singers for an ‘Old Time Music Hall’ May 2018 Park Farm.
8. An evening with Peter Lawrence. ‘A policeman’s Lot: From Krays to the Crown’. Friday 28th September
9. Barrow & District. Quiz & Supper – Sat 24th March. Teams of up to six. £9.50 each
Contact the NFWI
- Phone: 020 7371 9300
- Open hours: 9am–5pm Mon–Fri
- Address: 104 New Kings Road, London SW6 4LY
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