SOS for high streets and town centres

Oxford cityscape 
Our high streets and town centres are in trouble. Over the last ten years changes in shopping habits have hit the high street hard. When combined with a slowdown in consumer spending, banks reluctant to lend, and increasingly high rental and business rates, many high street businesses are struggling. The NFWI has launched the SOS for High Streets campaign after a resolution calling for an end to the decline of our high streets was passed at the 2013 AGM with a majority of 87%. The challenges facing our high streets and town centres reach to the heart of all of our communities..

Download our action pack

The action pack for members outlines some of the issues facing our high streets and steps you can take to help. You can also make a high street pledge to send to us.

Download an SOS for high streets poster

Show your support by displaying the SOS for High Streets and Town Centres poster.

Take part in a Day of Action

Show how important your high street, town centre or neighbourhood shops are to your WI by taking part in a nation-wide day of action to celebrate the 98th anniversary of the first WI meeting on 16 September 2013. Why not try some of these suggestions for events to hold in your community centre or high street?

  • Contact your local retailers or town centre manager and organise an event to celebrate your high street, neighbourhood store or town centre. Is there an empty shop in your neighbourhood or high street?
  • Talk to the owners about organising a WI-themed window display, promoting the campaign, or perhaps hosting a pop-up shop.
  • Take your WI to your high street. Work with retailers in your area or your town centre manager to organise a treasure hunt or quiz or bring your high street or town centre to your WI. Why not invite your local florist, butcher or fishmonger to run a special workshop for your members.
About the mandate - SOS for High Streets

Delegates at the 2013 AGM on 1 June passed an NFWI Board resolution on the 'decline of our high streets and town centres' with an 87% majority:

'The NFWI notes with concern the continuing decline of our high streets and the damaging effect this has on local communities. We call on every member of the WI to support their local shops and make the high street their destination of choice for goods and services. We call on decision-makers to work collectively, at all levels, to help bring an end to the decline of our high streets and to ensure that high streets flourish and provide a focal point for local communities.The face of the high street is in flux. High streets dominated by butchers, bookshops and bakers are no longer the norm, but the WI's campaign is not about nostalgia. We want to see high streets and town centres that are fit for purpose in the 21st Century and meeting the needs of communities as well as consumers.