Wild at Heart WI

"Virtual WIs are needed nationally and there’s a great camaraderie in the WI for support."

This WI meets virtually.

Why did you want to set up a virtual WI? Where did the interest come from?

Most women spent the last year under the Covid lockdown rules and lots of the WIs not meeting, it seemed a natural progression. Everyone seems so busy and this was a way of joining the organisation without having to commit to planning the family time. It is a great way of bringing different cultures together, finding out about other communities across England and joining people together.

A virtual meeting is so useful for many professions, but in the care professions, it would enable carers who can’t get out to liaise with others.

How did you spread the word about your WI?

One way that we raised awareness about our group was through social media. Primarily through Instagram posts inviting people to email or message for more information. We also created posts (with free Apps like Bazaart and Template) using photos of activities and interests our members enjoyed; such as crafting, cooking, reading, sports, travel, nature, climate change. Through these posts, we had many enquiries from women all over the UK and Europe and our membership began to grow.

We linked our Instagram account to our Facebook account which enabled us to reach an even wider group of women (as not everyone who is online uses all social media platforms) and set up a members-only group on Facebook where our members can share their interests and get to know each other in between meetings.

What are the three best things about your WI?

Meeting people from across the country, from different regions and exchanging different ideas. Not having to travel out in the Winter months. It fits in well with work and home commitments.

Do you mind telling us the age of your oldest and youngest member?

30 and 67

How many members does your WI have?

Currently, 22 paid members and 5 guests.

When thinking about the future of your WI, what are you looking forward to the most?

Testing the "virtual boundaries"; learning and engaging with each other through various subgroups.

What are the best activities your WI has run so far?

As we are so new, our first major event will be our Pride Picnic in August.

What advice would you give anyone who would like to set up a virtual WI?

Do your research beforehand, speak to other virtual WIs about their experience, try to get a core group of friends who will support you at the beginning. Then - go for it! This is something that’s needed nationally and there’s a great camaraderie in the WI for support.

What was/is the biggest challenge?

Getting the committee together and asking people to commit.

What is the biggest advantage of meeting online?

Meeting people that we would never get the chance to otherwise. There’s such a wealth of knowledge and information that we can all tap into.

What meeting platform do you use?

We have signed up for Zoom, which works well and is easy to navigate. We held a "Zoom for beginners"- course recently and offered this out to the other virtual WIs.