Press Releases

29 May 2024

WI and RFU join forces to connect communities

The NFWI (National Federation of Women’s Institute) is proud to team up with The Rugby Football Union (RFU) to promote inclusive spaces for women and use non-rugby activities to connect communities.

The new RFU X WI collaboration is centred on encouraging women who have not previously visited a rugby club to use the facility; and promote clubs as inclusive spaces for women and strengthen their position as a community hub open to all.

During trials earlier this year, WI members in Kent teamed up with a local Women's Walking Rugby group - showcasing their newfound skills at the village fete! Meanwhile, in North Yorkshire, WI members have moved their meetings to their local Rugby Club, which they found to be perfect for their get-togethers.

Steve Grainger, Executive Director of Rugby Development, RFU, said:

“Through collaborating with rugby clubs, WI’s and their members can gain access to fantastic facilities and resources in their local community. Rugby clubs own land and buildings that are often underused by community groups and local people – which is something our Connecting Communities programme is committed to changing; so that everyone benefits.

“Impact ’25 is already having a great effect in developing rugby clubs and growing the game in all corners of the country, and we are excited to see that continue as we build towards next year’s Rugby World Cup and beyond.”

Melissa Green, CEO of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes said:

“As we gear up for the Women’s Rugby World Cup next year, this collaboration heralds a chance for the NFWI and England Rugby, to not only promote the brilliance that is women’s rugby - but also to highlight the many local rugby clubs as spaces to connect, engage, and empower women all over England.

“I know our members will take up the challenge and organise wonderful events typifying the fun and friendship we are known for.”

Funded by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) through Sport England, Impact 25 sees significant investment in rugby, enabling more women and girls to get involved with the game than ever before.

The Connecting Communities strand of Impact ‘25 promotes safe and inclusive social spaces for women at rugby clubs as well as helping clubs to open their doors for non-rugby activities to engage all members of the public.

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For more information about the Women’s Institute, contact For the RFU contact, Communications Manager.

About the WI

● The WI is a unique and historic organisation shaped by its members since 1915. We set out to give all women a voice and to be a force for good in the community.

● Today the WI is the largest women’s organisation in the UK and we pride ourselves on being a trusted place for all women of all generations, to share experiences and learn from each other. A WI membership offers the opportunity to meet other women, to make friends and make a difference in their communities.

About the RFU

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) is the national governing body for grassroots and elite rugby in England. Its purpose is to encourage rugby, and its values, to flourish across England.

What is Impact 25, and Connecting Communities?

● The Rugby World Cup Impact Programme, delivered by the RFU in partnership with the DCMS & Sport England will see significant investment across the country providing not only substantial improvements in facilities but the creation of greater opportunities for females than ever before across all levels of the game through its volunteer and coaching programmes.

● Rugby World Cup 2025 provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to accelerate the growth of the game for women and girls and achieve the RFU’s ambition to have 100,000 female players by 2027. Building capacity and opportunities in the lead-up to the tournament is vital to cater for the increased demand the tournament will deliver.

16 May 2024

The Women’s Institute: high bills and debt are fueling a women’s mental health crisis

Over one in ten UK women (14%) have been in energy debt in the last six months - with nearly a third (29%) of those worried about paying their bills, and19% suffering sleepless nights.

Nine percent even say it has made them ill, with 6% missing work because of stress, according to new research from the Women’s Institute (WI) on what is Mental Health Awareness Week (May 13 to May 19).

The survey was commissioned by Warm This Winter for The WI - and carried out by Opinium - and polled over a thousand women across the UK. Its aim was to assess the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on women – financially and from a mental health viewpoint.

Further key findings:

● 15% of women are either considering or have skipped meals to make ends meet

● One in eight now considers on relying on foodbanks

● Around a quarter (26%) are cutting back on personal care such as going to the hairdresser

● Around a quarter again (24%) say they are now unable to afford dining out or to get takeaways

● 14% have given up their hobbies, which in turn affects mental health

Melissa Green, National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI) CEO said: “Our research shows that the cost-of-living crisis deeply affects women, who often take on the mental load of running a household on top of their jobs.

“We all know and feel the financial impact, but it’s desperately worrying to see women skipping meals, cutting back on essentials, or borrowing just to make ends meet. Overall, 60% said that 2023 had been a more difficult year than 2022 – which is a depressing statistic.”

Fiona Waters from Warm This Winter said: “The survey indicates that women can see that the UK’s energy system is broken and want long term solutions such as 73% calling for properly funded insulation and renewable energy schemes that will end the vicious circle of sky high bills. They also want the UK to move away from being so dependent on expensive gas for our energy, which harms the climate, creates insecurity and inflates bills.”[1]

The research by Opinium also found that over two-thirds (68 percent) felt there should be financial support for vulnerable people such as children, the ill or elderly, to help with their energy bills. Respondents also felt that the recent £28 additional charge being levied by Ofgem to help energy suppliers recover energy debt should be spent on helping people to repay their debt (38%) or even write off customer debt (20 percent) altogether.

Simon Francis from the End Fuel Poverty Campaign commented:

“People have spent over three years facing sky high energy bills and are no longer prepared to put up with increases in their bills to line the pockets of an energy industry which has made billions from the energy costs crisis. What people want to see are a mixture of long term solutions to fix Britain’s broken energy system and short term support for those who need extra help with their bills.”

Melissa Green, NFWI CEO said these findings are ‘a clear clarion call’: “With 15% of women in fuel poverty telling us they are borrowing money from friends or family, and 20% again in energy debt – using overdrafts and credit cards to cover their bills – there is much more that policy makers can do to make companies work for their customers; and not simply shareholders. Women are the change-makers here, representing just over half of UK eligible voters. It’s time to hold those in power to account – which the WI has never shied away from doing.”

The Women’s Institute is a proud partner of Warm This Winter, a group of 50 charities and campaigners calling for a fair energy system.

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For interviews with Melissa or Simon, case studies or further information please contact: or

About the survey

[1] The majority of women feel the UK’s energy system is broken (60 percent) and want to see real change with nearly three quarters (73 percent) calling for proper financial help to insulate homes and 71 percent asking for more investment in homegrown renewable energy that would improve the UK’s energy security.  Nearly two-thirds (61 percent) also want to see a ‘proper plan’ in place to phase out gas powered energy plants.

Public opinion polling from Opinium who interviewed 2,000 people between 15 and 19 March 2024. Results were weighted to be representative of the UK population.

About the WI

● The WI a is a unique organisation shaped by its members since 1915, it has set out to give women a voice and to be a force for good in the community, and society at large.

● Today, the WI is the largest women’s organisation in the UK, priding itself on being a trusted place for all women of all generations, to find fun and friendship and campaign for positive change. Its membership is 190,000 strong and growing – and its social relevance and influence has never faltered.

4 April 2024

New WI study into women’s experiences of autism and ADHD reveals gendered disparity in diagnosis

A new report from the Women’s Institute, based on a survey and in-depth interviews, reveals a shocking disparity in diagnosis and support experienced by women with autism and ADHD in the UK.

It echoes new research published in the same week from the Nuffield Trust, which stated the NHS is experiencing an “avalanche of need” over autism and ADHD.

Key findings from the WI poll reveals:

  • 60% of women wait over a year to get a diagnosis of autism, with many forced to pay privately.
  • 90% of women felt that was a lack of awareness of autism in the healthcare system – with misunderstanding and dismissive attitudes still rife.
  • Women revealed that they are forced to “mask” their autism or ADHD with 81% saying they mask in all social environments.

Survey respondents told the WI:

“There were cancelled appointments due to staff illness or absence. I saw a number of people before I was finally referred to [doctor’s name redacted], who diagnosed me. The whole process took around two years.”

“I got referred by my GP after a mental health crisis. Seven months later, I received a letter with questions as to whether I’d be referred [yet]. And now six months later I’m still waiting to hear back whether I was even referred [at all].”

“As an older female I am now learning which bits are masking and which are actually my personality. It can be hard to separate these, as I have been masking for decades.”

Melissa Green, CEO, of the NFWI (National Federation of Women’s Institutes) said, “Our Thinking Differently findings demonstrate that among the already woeful experience of neurodivergent people in the UK, women and girls - who present very differently to boys and men – bear an even greater burden.

“The NFWI is calling for a gendered and intersectional approach to diagnosing autism and ADHD – and for policy makers to dismantle the artificial barriers to accessing support and services for neurodivergent women.”

The NWFI is now calling on its 190,000-strong membership to lobby MPs and healthcare professionals to help remove barriers for neurodivergent women to employment, education, and healthcare.

Full recommendations made on behalf of women with autism and ADHD can be found in the report, available to download at ADHD-Autism-Report.pdf (

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For interviews with Melissa Green, and to speak to women with ADHD and autism, contact Rob Dyson, NFWI PR Consultant on /

Notes to Editors

  • The Thinking Differently report presents the findings of the NFWI’s survey into the experiences of autistic and ADHD women (survey conducted September 2023). It is based on personal experiences from women with lived experience of autism or ADHD, or those who have supported a friend or family member, obtained through an online survey, with a total participant figure of 512, and 7 telephone interviews.
  • Not all questions were completed by all respondents, so completions are included for each finding within the report. The report is designed to be a snapshot of the experiences of this group of women, and we place these in the context of the wider policy environment and other research where appropriate.

About the WI

  • The WI a is a unique organisation shaped by its members since 1915, it has set out to give women a voice and to be a force for good in the community, and society at large.
  • Today, the WI is the largest women’s organisation in the UK, priding itself on being a trusted place for all women of all generations, to share experiences and learn from each other. A WI membership offers the opportunity to meet other women, to make friends, and make a difference in their communities.

27 June 2023

Coronation Gardens for Food and Nature

The NFWI have joined in partnership with The Wildlife Trusts, Incredible Edible, and Garden Organic, to pay tribute to His Majesty, King Charles III’s long-standing commitment to the natural world and the environment. Coronation Gardens for Food and Nature is a three-year programme that hopes to enthuse millions of people and communities across the United Kingdom to live sustainably and help wildlife recover by growing food and creating space for nature in gardens, on balconies, and in shared greenspaces. This will include providing advice and resources and encouraging people to pledge their gardens or greenspaces on a map.

In pledging to take part in Coronation Gardens for Food and Nature, WI members and others are being encouraged to:

  • Grow healthy food to eat – this could range from herbs and salads to vegetables and fruit trees depending on the space you have.
  • Plant pollinator-friendly blooms – butterflies, moths, bees and hoverflies all need sources of nectar and pollen to thrive. As they travel from flower to flower, they also pollinate them, enabling plants to set seeds or bear fruit.
  • Create a water feature, which could be as simple as a submerged dish or as involved as digging a pond, lining it, and oxygenating it using native plants such as hornwort.
  • Leave a patch of long grass or pile of logs to create shelter for wildlife and natural predators such as hedgehogs and frogs.
  • Go chemical and peat-free – avoid using pesticides, weedkillers and peat!
  • Sign up for regular ideas and tips – we want to encourage people to share their efforts and inspire others to take part, in turn helping the initiative grow. Through the pledge mechanism, individuals can sign up to receive regular advice through emails, helping to build confidence and knowledge in food growing and wildlife-friendly gardening.
  • Share efforts on social media to create a living “map” of activity – participants are encouraged to share their activity on social media using #MyCoronationGarden. We’d like to encourage people to influence others to get involved and become part of a group or community of people acting for nature and growing food.

You can find out more information including resources and advice on the Coronation Gardens for Food and Nature website here:

You can also get involved by pledging to create a Coronation Garden for Food and Nature here:

3 April 2023

WI reaches more women 

The WI launches its most radical change since it was founded 108 years ago

  • April marks the month when the Women’s Institute (WI) makes a bold new step - breaking new ground in its 108 year history.
  • Reflecting what women have told them they want, it is reaching out to new audiences by introducing flexible new supporter options to allow women a choice of ways to connect, and to allow all women who feel passionately about equality and women’s rights to join their national movement in a way that suits them.

Historically, the only way to be part of the WI has been as a WI member at local or virtual meetings. While it is proud of this model, and last year welcomed 30,000 new members to swell its 190,000 membership and to enjoy this local friendship and community involvement, for some women it is simply not possible to find the time with busy lives and competing demands.

To reach out and welcome these women, the WI has developed two levels of supporter options which will allow women the opportunity to back WI causes and campaigns in a way that suits them.

The options are:

WI Supporter - with a minimum contribution of £5.00.

This includes:

  • Regular WI campaign updates
  • Subscription to the WI Newsletter – a monthly e-update with WI stories, campaign highlights, recipes, a sneak peak of the WI Life magazine and other interesting titbits
  • Invitations to participate in surveys and research for WI campaigns

WI Supporter Plus – from £18.00 a year

This is for women who want to get more involved and receive a taste of what WI membership could offer.

It includes:

  • The WI Public Affairs Digest - a monthly e-update on all the latest WI campaigning news
  • Supporter Plus level access to the ’My WI’ - an exclusive online area which includes campaign action packs and special interest projects
  • WI Life magazine – eight editions each year delivered directly to the door – packed full of WI news, views and inspiring interviews from women across the WI movement. It also has features and ideas for craft, cookery, gardening and other home pursuits and activities
  • Two Denman courses – one live and one on demand – from the WI’s education wing. This is a place to learn news skills, brush up on history or take a hobby to the next level. Courses are on offer by signing up to the Denman At home newsletter -

Melissa Green, Chief Executive of the NFWI (National Federation of Women’s Institutes) says,

“This is the biggest change to the way we reach women in our 108-year history. It is a change inspired by WI members sharing stories of their daughters, mothers, aunts, colleagues and friends who want to be in the WI but can’t make it work for them right now. It's also inspired by the thousands of women who told us they want to join us but in a way that works for them.

The WI has been a powerful force for good and a collective voice for women for 108 years, whether to help end violence against women, to tackle climate change or to improve women’s healthcare, and we want to hear the experiences of more women to ensure an even greater impact in the decades ahead. We are delighted to see so many women coming forward to support our work and we look forward to welcoming more women to our WI movement in this exciting new chapter."

Further information:

Joanna Rayner  Email T. 07812 379607 or Patricia Orr, PR-Media, M. 07889 140139

Notes to Editors

  1. Melissa Green is available for interview. Pictures are available from the contact numbers above.
  2. The WI is the largest voluntary women’s organisation in the UK with approximately 190,000 members in over 5,500 WIs across England, Wales, and the Islands.

    The organisation plays a unique role in enabling women to develop new skills, giving them opportunities to campaign on issues that matter to them and their communities, and provides wide-ranging activities for members to get involved in.  

    Over the past one hundred years WI members have campaigned on a whole host of policy concerns, from equal pay for equal work (1943), to cervical cancer screening (1964) and (2019), and for equal rights for women around the globe (1999).

For further information please visit

8 March 2023

WI SURVEY – Women still penalised in workplace for caring responsibilities

New figures from a survey by the Women’s Institute (WI) undertaken to coincide with International Women’s Day on Wednesday 8 March show that WI members overwhelmingly believe that caring responsibilities continue to hamper women’s careers.

The findings were described as a ‘clarion call for change’ by the organisation which welcomed 30,000 new members last year, many attracted by the WI’s record of campaigning for women across the UK.

The findings from a survey of almost 1,000 members of the UK’s largest voluntary women’s organisation reveal that:

  • 86 per cent agreed that women are under too much pressure to balance their career with caring responsibilities
  • 92 per cent agree there is still a perception that women should be the main caregiver
  • Nearly eight out of ten (78%) agree that women are penalised in the workplace for their caring responsibilities
  • 91 per cent felt that women are judged by different standards to men in the workplace

Nearly eight out of ten (79%) disagreed that men take on an equal share of caring responsibilities, and three quarters (75%) disagreed that women get enough support to balance caring responsibilities with their careers.

When asked whether more needs to be done for men and women to be equal in society, a clear 90 per cent agreed. This is particularly acute when caring responsibilities are considered, with 93.3% agreeing that more should be done to achieve gender equality in relation to caring responsibilities for older family members, and children (89.3%).

Melissa Green, Chief Executive of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes says:

“Too many women are facing an impossible balancing act. Women are constantly juggling their careers and the demanding task of caring for their own children, grandchildren and too often their own parents amid a crumbling social care system.

These are women at the very heart of their families, communities and civic life across the country, yet their experiences are all too often ignored by society and politics and their contributions taken for granted. It’s time to shine a spotlight on these issues so that we build a system which reflects true equality and gives women the support they deserve.”

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Contact for further information:Jennifer Ikeme,  T. 07812 379607 (out of hours M. 07889 140139)

Notes to Editors

  1. Spokespeople are available for interview. Please contact the details above.
  2. The survey was undertaken in February 2023 and asked the views of WI members on a range of gender equality issues. There were 923 overall completions. Percentages represent the breakdown of responses to individual questions and may represent lower completions than the overall total.
  3. The WI is the largest voluntary women’s organisation in the UK with approximately 190,000 members in over 5,500 WIs across England, Wales, and the Islands.

    The organisation plays a unique role in enabling women to develop new skills and giving them opportunities to campaign on issues that matter to them and their communities.

The WI has remained a pioneer of women’s rights since its earliest days. The WI began campaigning for equal pay for equal work in 1943 and since then has continued to campaign on the issues that matter to women and their communities, including violence against women and ovarian cancer.

For further information please visit

12 December 2022

The WI pledges a warm welcome to refugees by setting up a network of Conversation Cafes across the country

The Women’s Institute is mobilising its network of 190,000 women to offer refugees a warm welcome when they arrive in the UK. The organisation is encouraging its network of 5,500 WI groups to set up Conversation Cafes in their own communities to offer refugee women a place to come together to meet others and learn new skills.

The scheme has been set up in response to a huge outpouring of support from the WI network in response to the recent refugee crises in Afghanistan and Ukraine. The WI has had a flood of requests from WI members who wish to take practical steps to support and welcome refugees to their communities.

The scheme which is being launched today (Monday 12th December 2022) will see WI members working with refugee organisations, local authorities and communities to set up the Cafes. It builds on the WI’s long history of working to support refugees, including its work in 1972 to welcome Ugandan refugees.

Ann Jones, Chair of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes says:

“As the largest voluntary women’s organisation in the UK, WI members are at the heart of their communities and well-placed to offer support to refugees. We hope that these WI Conversation Cafes will be a great way for refugee and asylum-seeking women to get to know other women in the community and to get to know the area they have moved to, as well as developing language skills for those who require them.

“We have a long tradition of helping people who come to this country and making them feel at home here in the UK. In fact 2022 marks the 50 year anniversary of the Ugandan refugee crisis, where WI members supported and welcomed refugees into communities across the UK.

“Demand is still high today with refugees arriving from many parts of the world and the Conversation Cafés will be open to all refugee women wherever they have travelled from and whenever they arrived in the UK. All will be welcomed by the WI.”

The idea of the WI Conversation Café originated in May this year in Bridlington, East Riding of Yorkshire when the current President of Sewerby WI of East Yorkshire federation, Ann Mitchell, partnered with the local East Riding Council. Refugee women were consulted, with the aim of empowering them to mix freely with women outside their community.

Ann Mitchell talks enthusiastically about the café in her area which is open once a week during term time for two hours. Her Café Conversations are led by refugee women and they talk about everything, especially families. Everyone brings food to share and there is always discussion about ingredients and recipes. There is friendship and laughter which encourages their acceptance into a new community.

The NFWI has put together detailed guidelines for WI members to follow, asking them to ask participants for relevant input to ensure their wants and needs are met. They give guidance on setting up a Conversation Café, working with partners for additional support, planning activities such as craft and cooking, the inclusion of children, safeguarding, sensitivities and how to manage any language barriers.

Explaining the reason for launching this initiative now, Ann Jones continues:

“WI members are already committed campaigners against loneliness, and for an end to violence against women and modern slavery. This programme will now allow them to take practical action to support refugee women directly and ensure that they receive a warm welcome in the UK.

Tom Green, Senior Producer, Counterpoint Arts – a leading national organisation in the field of arts, migration and cultural change said

“We’re delighted that the Women’s Institute are developing their initiative around Conversation Cafes. The opportunities to learn language and meet new people are of central importance for newly arrived people and we know that WI’s across the country will be extending the invitation in a true spirit of welcome.”

Shane Miley, Community Hubs Coordinator at Migrant Help – a charity supporting asylum seekers, refugees and victims of human trafficking and modern slavery said: I am delighted to hear about the Women’s Institute’s intention to set up conversation cafés for refugees and people seeking asylum; a cheery group of well-meaning locals in a welcoming environment is an ideal learning scenario. It supports English language learning, develops community networks, breaks down misconceptions and improves confidence.

It is my hope that with the help of the Women’s Institute we can provide a more welcoming and educational environment for refugees around the country

Further support to the WI initiative is from Siân Summers-Rees, Chief Officer, City of Sanctuary –  a movement of welcome across the UK.

“Arriving into a new place can be daunting, but projects like this can make all the difference. After experiencing the trauma of displacement, these safe spaces will bring people together, build friendships and solidarity and help people to settle into their new communities. At City of Sanctuary we work hard for people seeking sanctuary to feel welcome and supported here in the UK, we are so delighted that the WI are now doing the same”.

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For more information or interviews please contact: Jennifer Ikeme, or T. 07812 379607 (out of hours M. 07889 140139)

Notes to Editors

  1. Spokespeople are available for interview. For this or any other information please contact the details above.
  2. The WI is the largest voluntary women’s organisation in the UK with approximately 190,000 members in over 5,500 WIs across England, Wales, and the Islands. The organisation plays a unique role in enabling women to develop new skills, giving them opportunities to campaign on issues that matter to them and their communities, and provides wide-ranging activities for members to get involved in. The WI’s campaigning work has spanned a huge range of issues over its 107 year history. Recent campaigns on tackling loneliness, violence against women and modern slavery are particularly relevant to the new Conversation Cafes programme as we know refugees can be vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. Over the past 107 years WI members have campaigned on a whole host of policy concerns, from equal pay for equal work (1943), to cervical cancer screening (1964) and (2019), and for equal rights for women around the globe (1999). 2022 is the 50 year anniversary of the arrival of Ugandan refugees to the UK. WI members played a role in welcoming refugees to resettlement camps. For further information please visit
  3. Migrant Help ( is a charity that exists to protect people affected by displacement and exploitation, helping them thrive as individuals and recover from their trauma. Supporting those most in need and least likely to find support elsewhere, they aim to bridge community gaps and bring services and support together.
2 March 2022

The WI launches competition to knit and hide a corgi to celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

  • The ‘Where’s WInnie?’ interactive craft project will see WI members knitting corgis and hiding them in their local communities for others to find, keep or donate
  • A special corgi will be made for one lucky person to find with a very special surprise
  • The pattern for the knitted corgi, designed by WI member Hannah Joyce, has been included in the March issue of the WI’s membership magazine, WI Life
  • The competition, supported by The Big Jubilee Lunch, will begin on 1 May 2022

This year, Her Majesty The Queen has become the first British Monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee. To honour The Queen’s longstanding relationship with the WI, the National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI) is asking its members to knit a corgi named WInnie and hide her in their local community as a fun surprise for others to find and keep or donate.

The Queen has been a member of the WI for almost 80 years, having joined when she was still Princess Elizabeth in 1943. She is President of Sandringham WI and attends their January meeting each year. The Queen followed in her mother’s and grandmother’s footsteps who were both members of Sandringham WI from its earliest days.

The pattern to knit WInnie the corgi has been designed by Woolwich and Plumstead Roses WI member Hannah Joyce who can be found on Instagram and Tik Tok at @hannahjoyceknits. Hannah has created WInnie with sustainability in mind and knitters are encouraged to use up their yarn/fabric stash and other recycled materials to make the corgi.

As a knitting teacher, Hannah is excited to be part of a nationwide skill-sharing project. She said:

“I want to get people involved who might not be self-confessed knitters. Everything has been spelt out in the pattern so that it should be easy to follow. I want to encourage people to reuse and recycle: knit pink corgis, or red, white and blue corgis, and use up whatever yarn you have left over.”

WI members will be encouraged to hide their corgis in their communities with a special tag which will allow members of the public to map where they have found their corgi on the WI’s website. There will be a special corgi made for one lucky person to find, entitling the finder and their plus one guest tickets to a special Big Jubilee Lunch being held in London on Sunday 5 June.

Ann Jones, Chair of the NFWI, said:

“To celebrate The Queen’s momentous anniversary of 70 years on the throne, we wanted to launch a fun and engaging community project that would share the WI’s love of knitting and craft.

“Knitters of all skill levels are encouraged to join in, with the pattern designed for those at a relative beginner level. For those who find the corgis, they can visit the WI website to map where they have found her and also post on social media using the hashtag #WheresWInnie. We hope that WInnie the corgi will brighten the day for anyone who finds her.

“The WI has a history of mass knitting projects, having broken the world record for the most people knitting simultaneously in a single location at our 2012 Annual Meeting.”

The project is supported by The Big Jubilee Lunch, which is inviting communities across the UK to come together across the June bank holiday weekend as part of the official celebrations for Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

Lindsey Brummitt, Programme Director of The Big Jubilee Lunch said:

“Where’s WInnie’ is a wonderful idea that encourages people to get creative and hide something they have made as a lovely surprise for someone else in their community.

“This kind of unique community activity is a lovely way to honour The Queen’s incredible achievement, so we want to invite the finder of the special WInnie to our flagship Big Jubilee Lunch in London on the Platinum Jubilee celebration weekend!

“It’s really exciting to collaborate with the WI who share our aim to inspire people to try new things and connect with people where they live, so we hope to see knitted Corgi pups popping up all over the UK this spring!’

“Together with WI, we’re going to bring the excitement of the Jubilee to the nation by inviting people to share and celebrate their creative skills at The Big Jubilee Lunch, when everyone is invited to join in, have fun and make new friends from 2-5 June!”

Read the March issue of WI Life which includes the pattern to knit WInnie the corgi here.

For more information or interviews, please contact Interim PR manager Fiona Hughes at or 020 7371 9300 ext. 2012

Notes to editors

About the WI

The WI is the largest voluntary women’s organisation in the UK with over 190,000 members in 5,500 WIs across England, Wales, and the Islands.

The organisation plays a unique role in enabling women to develop new skills, giving them opportunities to campaign on issues that matter to them and their communities, and providing wide-ranging activities for members to get involved in.

Visit the WI’s website at and follow us on social media or @womensinstitute on Instagram and Twitter.

About The Big Jubilee Lunch

This year The Big Jubilee Lunch is an official part of Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend celebrations 2-5 June. It kicks off the Month of Community, offering a feast of opportunities to share friendship, make positive local connections and raise money for good causes where you live.

The Big Lunch is an idea from the Eden Project made possible by The National Lottery, partnered by Iceland and The Food Warehouse, PG tips, Nextdoor and Pears Foundation.

We’ve been bringing neighbours and communities together to share food, friendship and fun on the first weekend in June since 2009.

Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall has been Patron of The Big Lunch since 2012.

Get your free Big Jubilee Lunch pack from

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram @edencommunities

2 November 2021

The WI says ‘No More Loopholes’ to world leaders at COP26 with its innovative craft action

The WI will be taking hundreds of ‘No More Loopholes’ bracelets crafted by WI members to COP26 in Glasgow to protest against loopholes made by politicians when making climate agreements.

Representatives from the National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI) will have a stand in the Green Zone at COP26 on Friday 5 November. A giant ‘No More Loopholes’ bracelet will also be on display measuring in at 1.5m and a 6m hand-knitted ‘climate scarf’ showing the change in global temperature rises over the last 100 years.

A common criticism of COP conferences is that they ‘manufacture loopholes’, delivering agreements that allow national Governments worldwide to avoid fully implementing high-ambition climate agreements or emissions reductions.

The WI is known for its love of crafts as well as its history of campaigning on environmental issues, and WI members wanted to create a crafted item that could be given to politicians and decision-makers at the conference calling on them to commit to strong climate action.

The WI’s campaign for COP26 is focused on ensuring women’s voices and experiences are at the heart of climate negotiations.

Ann Jones, Chair of the NFWI, said:

“Women and girls around the world are disproportionally impacted by climate change and too often they are underrepresented across all levels of decision making.

“As the largest women’s voluntary organisation in the UK, the WI will be using its voice and calling on the UK Government to deliver a COP26 conference that centres the experiences of women and marginalised groups, to achieve climate justice and meaningful action to limit global temperatures.”

For more information, please contact Fiona Hughes at or 0207 371 9300 ext. 2012. If you are attending COP26 on Friday 5 November, please feel free to visit the WI’s stand in the Green Zone for photo opportunities and interviews. WI spokespeople will also be available for comment virtually throughout COP26.

Notes to editors

  1. The WI is the largest voluntary women’s organisation in the UK with approximately 200,000 members in over 6,000 WIs across England, Wales, and the Islands. The organisation plays a unique role in enabling women to develop new skills, giving them opportunities to campaign on issues that matter to them and their communities, and providing wide-ranging activities for members to get involved in. Over the past one hundred years WI members have campaigned on a whole host of policy concerns, from equal pay for equal work (1943), to cervical cancer screening (1964) and (2019), and for equal rights for women around the globe (1999). For further information please visit
  2. The WI has always been at the forefront of protecting the environment. One of the most memorable WI initiatives stems from a resolution calling for a campaign to ‘preserve the countryside against desecration by litter.’ This resolution, passed in 1954, led to the formation of the Keep Britain Tidy campaign, now an independent charity. In 1988, the WI added its voice to the debate about CFCs and their effect on the ozone layer, pressurising the government and manufacturers to take action. The UK government signed up to binding international targets the following year. More recently, WI campaigns have ranged from the plight of the honey bee to tackling climate change. The WI campaigned for the introduction of the world-leading Climate Change Act in 2008. And in 2015 WI members rallied together with other Climate Coalition organisations to ask MPs for a legally binding, global climate deal.
  3. Since 2009, WI members have been concerned about the disproportionate impacts of climate change on women and girls. Ahead of COP26 WI members have been campaigning on the WI's 'The Whole Story' campaign. Members have been organising meetings to raise awareness of the impacts of climate change on women and girls and asking their MPs to put pressure on the UK Govt to make sure that COP26 keeps temperature rising to 1.5C to safeguard the future of people and the planet.

16 September 2021

Women’s Institute proud to partner with Hundred Heroines on its 106th birthday

In celebration of its 106th birthday today (Thursday 16 September 2021) the WI will be marking the day with a variety of projects and activities, including a special event with its newest partner, Hundred Heroines – a charity promoting equality and diversity through raising awareness of ground-breaking women photographers.

WI members will be invited to attend a virtual event to learn more about the Hundred Heroines and WI partnership, the work of the Hundred Heroines, how members can get involved, and to hear about the work of two Heroines.

Importantly, WI members will be offered a range of opportunities to learn and develop their skills in photography and art while helping Hundred Heroines to raise awareness of the barriers faced by women photographers around the world. They will be encouraged to challenge and push boundaries and highlight human rights issues.

The two speakers/participants are:

Hayley Drolet who currently lives in Oxford, England with her Dalmation (and Hundred Heroines’ mascot) Annie. She completed a MA in Classics from King’s College London and now works as a Research Assistant in the History Faculty at the University of Oxford. Haley will be discussing the work of Historical Heroine Marie Høeg (1866 - 1949), a prominent member of the Norwegian feminist movement; Marie Høeg with her partner Bolette Berg experimented with gender identity and performance.

Paola Paredes - an Ecuadorian photographer who was elected as a Heroine for her work around the experiences of LBTIQ people, and how they navigate attitudes towards homosexuality in her home country. Through both staged imagery and documentary photography, Paola illustrates personal and complex interactions between sexuality, culture and religion.

“We are proud to be partnering with Hundred Heroines and highlighting their work on our special day”, says Ann Jones, Chair of the NFWI, “Their drive and success in celebrating so many outstanding female photographers from around the globe fits well with our vision and strategy to reach out and represent all women and the communities in which they live. Like our partner, our objectives include expanding personal development opportunities and promoting positive change. We hope this event will encourage our members to get involved and hopefully inspire some of them to become Heroines themselves.”

Del Barrett, Chair and Founder of Hundred Heroines, said:

“We are delighted to partner with the WI, which will contribute to their mission of inspiring women, through connecting new audiences to inspirational women in photography.”

For further information, please contact Fiona Hughes, 7371 9300 ext 2012. M. 07889 140139

Notes to editors

  1. Interviews can be arranged. Please contact the numbers above.
  2. The WI is the largest voluntary women’s organisation in the UK with approximately 200,000 members in over 6,000 WIs across England, Wales, and the Islands. The organisation plays a unique role in enabling women to develop new skills, giving them opportunities to campaign on issues that matter to them and their communities, and provides wide-ranging activities for members to get involved in.  
    Over the past one hundred years WI members have campaigned on a whole host of policy concerns, from equal pay for equal work (1943), to cervical cancer screening (1964) and (2019), and for equal rights for women around the globe (1999). For further information please visit
  3. Hundred Heroines is the only UK charity dedicated to advancing public awareness of women in photography. As women photographers, ‘Heroines’ challenge how we see the world, push artistic and social boundaries and highlight human rights issues. Through innovative exhibitions and events, Hundred Heroines showcases the invaluable contribution women make – and have made – to the visual arts and to society while building a living archive that aims to increase public appreciation of their pioneering work and transformational humanitarian impact.

15 July 2021

Overwhelming call by WI members for earlier detection of ovarian cancer

With cancer referrals falling by over 380,000 in the UK during the first year of the Covid pandemic1, it is not surprising that the National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI) latest resolution around ovarian cancer awareness has passed with a majority of 99.48%.

The result is a clarion call for more action to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer in order to save lives. The WI will now mobilise its 200,000 members to campaign for better awareness amongst those at risk and amongst health professionals.

Following the NFWI’s virtual Annual Meeting on 8 June where the resolution was debated, WIs had one month to cast their vote for or against this resolution. The overwhelming majority indicates the clear need for this vital campaign which calls on WI members to increase awareness of the subtle signs of ovarian cancer.

The wording of the resolution is as follows:

A call to increase awareness of the subtle signs of ovarian cancer

Every two hours in the UK someone dies of ovarian cancer. Making sure GPs and the public know what to look for will not only ensure the early detection and treatment of this disease, but transform lives today and for generations to come. NFWI calls on WI members everywhere to help increase awareness of the subtle signs of ovarian cancer.

Key facts:

  • Ovarian cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in women. There are around 7,400 new ovarian cancer cases in the UK each year, and 4,200 deaths.
  • Symptoms include: feeling constantly bloated; a swollen stomach, discomfort in your stomach or pelvic area; feeling full quickly when eating and/or loss of appetite; and needing to urinate more often than usual.
  • Cancer Research UK (CRUK) states that when ovarian cancer is diagnosed early, nine out of ten women will survive for five years or more. This compares to less than three in 20 women when diagnosed at the latest stage.
  • Because the early signs of ovarian cancer are similar to conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS), it is often not diagnosed until it has spread and a cure is not possible. CRUK explains that in England the majority of women with a stage recorded at diagnoses are diagnosed at a late stage – either III or IV.
  • Between March 2020 and March 2021, CRUK estimated that over 380,000 fewer people were referred with suspected cancer symptoms than normal in the UK, with around 330,000 fewer referrals in England.

Ann Jones, Chair of the NFWI, said:

“This decisive result from our members shows the great importance they attach to the threat of ovarian cancer, and the need for greater awareness of the symptoms which is crucial to early diagnosis. Put simply, too many people are dying because their ovarian cancer is not found early enough. WI members are clear that this must change.

“With our 200,000 members we are well-connected in local communities and can use our existing networks to reach more people with the vital messages of spotting the early signals. I look forward to the WI making a difference by helping to achieve a greater survival rate for women.”

Mr John Butler, Consultant Gynaecological Oncology Surgeon at the Royal Marsden, was the expert speaker on this subject at the NFWI’s Annual Meeting. He said:

“I am delighted that the WI has passed this resolution. The WI has an amazing track record in championing improvements in women’s health.

“Currently ovarian cancer survival in the UK is low by international standards and by raising awareness of ovarian cancer symptoms we will help more women to be diagnosed sooner, live longer, and be cured.”

Kathy Heathcote, from Kitchen Dancers WI in Hampshire was the WI member who initially proposed this resolution. It was seconded by Ruby Adler, member of Sotonettes WI, influencer and star of E4’s Made in Chelsea, who is also a passionate campaigner on this issue.

Kathy was inspired to write the resolution after the loss of her daughter-in-law Vicky Jacobs to ovarian cancer. During her five-year struggle, Vicky poured her energy into campaigning to improve survival for women with ovarian cancer. As a Managing Director of a London Advertising Agency Vicky helped create a national campaign with the charity Ovarian Cancer Action called ‘I Will Survive’ – poignantly released on the day she died.

Kathy said:

“I had no idea when I started writing this resolution at the beginning of 2020 the percentage of UK women who are too embarrassed to talk to their GP about their symptoms, and that 35% of women are worried about wasting a healthcare professional’s time or that the UK outcomes for ovarian cancer are so much lower than comparable countries. This is not right.

“We needed this resolution to be passed. I’d like to thank everyone who made this happen.”

Cary Wakefield, Chief Executive of Ovarian Cancer Action, said:

“UK-wide symptom awareness has a vital role to play in our ambition to improve ovarian cancer survival. The WI has a legacy of affecting long-lasting and meaningful change, and we are thrilled to be working together. Collectively we can help both women today and for generations to come.”

For further information, please contact Fiona Hughes, 7371 9300 ext 211.

Notes to editors

  1. Spokespeople are available for interviews. Please use the contact details above.
  2. The WI is the largest voluntary women’s organisation in the UK with approximately 200,000 members in over 6,000 WIs across England, Wales, and the Islands. The organisation plays a unique role in enabling women to develop new skills, giving them opportunities to campaign on issues that matter to them and their communities, and provides wide-ranging activities for members to get involved in.
    Over the past one hundred years WI members have campaigned on a whole host of policy concerns, from equal pay for equal work (1943), to cervical cancer screening (1964) and (2019), and for equal rights for women around the globe (1999). For further information please visit
  3. The NFWI’s resolution vote usually takes place at the Annual Meeting itself. However, due to Covid restrictions, the meeting was held virtually in 2021 and delegates were given a month to cast their vote as they could not attend in person. The 99.48% figure is based on the 82% of WIs that voted.
  4. Statistics in this release have been sourced from Cancer Research UK:

1 Cancer Research UK:

24 June 2021

England Netball and the National Federation of Women’s Institutes extend impactful Walking Netball partnership

England Netball is delighted to announce the extension of its partnership with the National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI) following three successful years. The partnership continues to focus on empowering members of the WI to engage, increase activity and prevent social isolation through the governing body’s popular Walking Netball programme.

The collaboration, initially launched in March 2018, was brought together by two nationally recognised and trusted women’s organisations and has exceeded expectations by making the project, to date, the most successful sporting partnership seen in the WI.

WI members of all ages and abilities across the country, have taken to Walking Netball with enthusiasm and passion and have been a leading force in demonstrating that the sport can be inclusive to all women. Thanks to funding from Sport England the project has successfully introduced the WI to a team sport enjoyed by thousands of women across the country, which continues to grow in popularity.

The WI and Walking Netball partnership to date has reached 3,148 WI members across England. At its outset, 17% of WI Walking Netballers were considered ‘inactive’**, a figure which declined to 9% after a year of the programme.

The extension of the partnership will allow the project to continue to build women’s confidence, self-esteem, and physical and mental wellbeing through a slower version of the game, whilst also offering the opportunity for women to develop their skills through Walking Netball Host training. This impacts the lives of many more members of the WI, which following the pandemic, will be crucial in supporting people to rebuild both their social interactions as well as their physical activity habits. The WI and England Netball hope that through Walking Netball they can continue to engage and motivate women of all generations and backgrounds around the country.

Thanks to the partnership, selected WIs were provided with 20 fully equipped weekly or fortnightly sessions delivered by an England Netball Walking Netball Host in venues the participants were familiar with. To encourage WI members to maintain regular activity levels beyond these first sessions, and to leave a positive legacy for the project, an incredible 226 WI members have been trained as Walking Netball Hosts to date, with more eager to get involved.

Ann Jones, Chair of the NFWI said of the partnership: “This fabulous initiative has been hugely popular with members of all ages and abilities; offering members an opportunity to come together on the court, enhance their social interaction and build self-esteem. During the lockdown, the online virtual sessions have provided a welcome chance to keep in touch with members around the country whilst maintaining Walking Netball skills and providing members with a virtual opportunity to take part and find out more about the programme.

“Not only has the project brought together women by building their confidence, reducing loneliness, enhancing social interaction and celebrating achievements, it has also given members the opportunity to develop and sustain personal skills whilst improving physical ability in a safe, friendly and fun environment.”

Fran Connolly, CEO of England Netball, added: “This project and the innovative partnership with the WI has enabled more women to enjoy all the benefits of being active through netball in the familiar surroundings of the WI. The project engaged members of the WI to participate when they otherwise would not have, and it has been a huge success.

“Our research has shown that the programme is powerful in not only retaining activity levels in older women – which usually decline as people get older - but improving functional movement, preventing social isolation, and improving mental health.

“It is really exciting to be extending our partnership with the WI. It comes at an important time when morale has been low and the physical activity levels of many has been hindered due to the pandemic. We’re very much looking forward to working with the WI to get more women active again and to help reach those that have likely felt isolated over the course of the last 12 months. There’s a lot for us to look forward to and work on.”

WI member and Walking Netball participant Bridget said of the project: “It’s not about winning in sport. I think mostly it’s about just having fun together. We’re not bothered about winning or whether we’ve scored. It doesn’t matter at the end of the day. We’ve all had a good afternoon.”

WI member, Sheila added: “It does alleviate that stress, worry and provides friendship and togetherness… you feel part of a team.”

England Netball and the WI will continue to work together, with the Walking Netball project remaining at the heart of this special partnership between two leading organisations for women. A detailed report celebrating the success of the partnership to date can be found here.

Notes to editors

Some additional statistics around the programme are as follows:

  • 151WI Walking Netball groups have been established to date.
  • 95 Walking Netball groups have sustained participation (continued beyond 20-session Walking Netball Host delivery)
  • More than 50% of participants rated their satisfaction 5/5 12-months into the programme
  • Average minutes per week of physical activity increased by 16 minutes and the level of intensity (measured as MET* minutes per week) increased by 11%.
  • Before joining the programme 45% of the WI/WN participants met the national guidelines for activity after 12 months this had increased to 53%
  • Energy used to do physical activity per week for participants improved by 11%
  • Mental health improved by 6%
  • Social isolation reduced by 2%
  • There was a 4.5% reduction in risk in perceptions of physical function
  • Functional movement improves by 8%
  • Balance improves by 8%
  • Gait-Speed improves by 17%
  • Sit-stand ability improves by 23%.

*MET stands for the metabolic equivalent of task. One MET is the amount of energy used while sitting quietly.

** inactive is defined as taking part in less than 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week.

About England Netball

England Netball is the national governing body for England’s biggest female adult team sport played weekly. It oversees and is responsible for the strategic plan of the sport across the country.

England Netball is a customer-focused sports business, its visions include delivering a first-class member and participation experience, and leading an effective and progressive infrastructure enabling all involved in the netball experience to collaborate as one team aligned behind one dream.

It runs a number of participation programmes including Walking Netball, Back to Netball, Netball Now, Bee Netball, and Workplace Netball, amongst others.

The Vitality Roses; England Netball’s senior team, are currently third in the International Netball Federation World Rankings.

England Netball and its event partners secured the rights to host the Vitality Netball World Cup 2019 in Liverpool, which saw the Vitality Roses secure bronze on the international stage.

Since the Vitality Netball World Cup, more than 160,000 people have been inspired to play netball or more netball.

England Netball continues to see significant growth in participation, sponsorship deals and ticket revenue.

Facebook, Twitter & Instagram: englandnetball

For more information, interviews or images, please contact Emma Fallows at England Netball on or 07458 126 932.

About the WI

The WI is the largest voluntary women’s organisation in the UK with approximately 200,000 members in over 6,000 WIs across England, Wales, and the Islands. The organisation plays a unique role in enabling women to develop new skills, giving them opportunities to campaign on issues that matter to them. For some, being part of the WI is a chance to meet people and catch up with friends. For others, it’s a chance to learn new skills, take part in a wide variety of activities promoting physical and mental wellbeing and to make a difference in their communities through campaigns.

The WI: Bold & Inspiring, Growing & Relevant, Inclusive and Flexible

Twitter: @WomensInstitute
Instagram: @womensinstitute

For more information, please contact NFWI PR Officer Fiona Hughes at / 020 7371 9300 ext. 211

20 April 2021

New Women’s Institute survey shows severe decline
in rural bus services

WI members call for more women to be represented in transport planning

Only 18 % - less than one in five – of survey respondents living in rural areas in the UK say they have access to a frequent, reliable bus service
, in a new survey of some 2,500 respondents undertaken by the National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI).

A quarter (25%) said that they felt more isolated as a result and 19 % said that their mental health had been negatively impacted, contributing to isolation and social exclusion.

A third (36%) said that improved bus timetables would encourage them to use the bus more. Cuts have meant a decrease in being able to connect to other transport services and as a result, 72 % said that dependency on using a car and reliance on family and friends had increased.

A New Route for Bus Services is a new WI report published today (Tuesday 20 April 2021) as part of its ‘Get on Board’ campaign.

It is designed to explore the impacts of cuts to local bus services, particularly on women and people living in rural areas, and to highlight key issues that must be urgently addressed by the government as it puts in place its recovery plan.

The report highlights an urgent need for Government, local authorities and transport operators to consider the needs and travel patterns of women in all future transport policy and developments.

It calls for better representation of women at decision-making levels for transport planning, including on forums such as Bus Advisory Boards and through the transport for Wales Advisory panels.

The NFWI specifically wants to see the following urgent action:

  • A higher frequency of bus services in rural areas.
  • Bus services that meet the needs of women.
  • Bus services that are better integrated with other transport networks.
  • A modal shift away from dependency on cars for environmental reasons.

Lynne Stubbings, National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI) Chair, said:

“Cuts to local bus services is an issue that WI members feel very passionately about having seen the far-reaching effects on their communities, particularly on women and those in rural areas.

“While we welcome government commitments to bus services, it is imperative that the needs of women are considered in all future transport policy going forward.

“WI members are extremely concerned about the environment and can see the vital role that bus services play in reducing carbon emissions and congestion. We hope that the recommendations outlined in our report are adopted by national and local governments to ensure bus services meet the needs of the community.”

The report, A New Route for Bus Services, presents the findings of the NFWI’s research on the availability of bus services in England and Wales, and public attitudes towards using them. The survey was carried out between August and September 2020 and received 2,493 responses.  While it was open to all, including members of the public, 98% of respondents described their gender as female. This data is supplemented by 142 case studies submitted by WI members across England and Wales.

For more information, please contact NFWI PR Officer Fiona Hughes at / 020 7371 9300 ext. 211

16 September 2020

The WI launches strategic vision for the future on its 105th birthday

The National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI) has launched an ambitious five-year strategic plan to continue its success as the largest and most influential UK based women’s organisation for years to come. This has been launched on ‘WI Day’, which is the 105th anniversary since the WI formed in Britain on 16th September 1915.

The strategic vision is made up of a series of statements outlining how the organisation plans to grow its membership and reach more women, making a positive impact in communities across the UK. The vision statements are as follows:

NFWI Vision

We aim to be an organisation of choice for all women, building on our past successes and the strength of our current membership and influence to ensure a sustainable and strong future for the WI.

Vision statement 1: Bold and Inspiring

We will be a bold voice representing all women and the communities in which they live.

Vision statement 2: Growing and Relevant

We will work together to continually promote the achievements of our organisation, reach more women and grow our membership.

Vision statement 3: Inclusive

Our membership will reflect our local communities and we will represent women from all backgrounds through the work we do.

Vision statement 4: Flexible

We will remove any practical barriers to women supporting us by offering flexible ways they can engage with what we do.

These four vision statements will form the basis of all of the NFWI’s work going forward.

Melissa Green, Chief Executive, NFWI, said:

“As an organisation, the WI has always been evolutionary, adapting as women’s lives have changed, and this is how it has stayed relevant for over a century. However, this new vision will allow us to challenge ourselves to meet the needs of women in the 21st century, and be an organisation for all women.

“The strategic vision was shaped by WI members across the organisation so we’d like to thank them for their input; the success of the WI is a reflection of the brilliant contributions from our members. We are committed to focusing our time and resources on ensuring that we continually improve and enrich the experience of our existing members, whilst also reaching out to more women.

“The WI is an organisation with the community at its heart. It gives women a space to meet people, learn new skills and campaign on issues facing women and wider society.”

Lynne Stubbings, Chair, NFWI, said:

“Today we are celebrating 105 years of the WI, and in particular, we are recognising the incredible way in which the WI has smashed stereotypes over the years.

“The WI is a place for all women, and our members consist of women from all generations and all walks of life. This diversity is what makes our organisation unique, welcoming and successful in effecting change in areas that matter to our members.

“Our strategic vision will guarantee a strong future for the WI, in which WI members continue to challenge stereotypes and be a voice for women in society.”

For more information, please contact NFWI PR Officer Fiona Hughes at or 020 7371 9300 ext 211

7 May 2020

Surge in appreciation for green spaces and outpouring of community spirit amid lockdown

  • A new poll on community spirit and attitudes to green spaces during lockdown finds nearly two-thirds (63%) of us think protecting and enhancing green spaces should be a higher priority after the lockdown.
  • Only 11% of us feel less connected to our community during the lockdown, while 40% feel more connected and one in three (33%) of 18 to 34-year-olds report having made new intergenerational connections.

Despite us living under the strictest social distancing measures we’ve ever experienced in the UK, there has been an increase in community spirit and appreciation for local green spaces and countryside during the lockdown, according to new research released today. Commissioned by CPRE, the countryside charity and the National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI), and carried out by Opinium, the poll has found that over half (54%) agree that people are doing more to help their communities and nearly two-thirds of people (63%) feel that protecting local green spaces should be a higher priority for the government when lockdown ends.

The results show local green spaces have been a haven for many people since lockdown measures began with:

  • The majority (53%) of people saying they appreciate local green spaces more since the country adopted social distancing measures;
  • Over half (57%) of us reported that the lockdown has made us more aware of the importance of these local green spaces for our mental health and wellbeing; and
  • One in three people (35%) reported visiting green spaces more since the start of lockdown.

Crispin Truman, chief executive of CPRE, the countryside charity, said:

“Our countryside and local green spaces are facing mounting pressure but the coronavirus pandemic has reminded us why the countryside next door, including our Green Belts, is so important to ordinary people. More people are aware of the health and wellbeing benefits that access to green spaces delivers and support for protecting and enhancing these after lockdown is impossible for the government to ignore.

“Going back to business as usual is not an option. The government must use the forthcoming planning reforms to protect these precious spaces and also go further by investing in their enhancement.

“Many of us feared that lockdown would see more people isolated, lonely and cut off from their communities and the outside world. However, today’s results have turned these notions on their head. While we are physically distanced, many of us are more connected than ever and people are helping each other in their communities – with different age groups connecting more – which is truly inspiring to see.”

It is clear that some of the high-profile volunteering and fundraising initiatives, including the remarkable fundraising by Captain Tom, are not isolated acts of kindness and community spirit. The poll has also uncovered an outpouring of community spirit and feeling of togetherness, revealing that:

  • Only 11% of us feel less connected to our community at this time – 40% feel more connected and 42% just as connected as before;
  • Over half (54%) of us agree that people are doing more to help their community under lockdown;
  • Two in five people (42%) are communicating more with people in their local community and one in six people (19%) communicating at least twice as much with their neighbours as before; and
  • The top five ways in which we’re connecting more under lockdown are:
    1. ‘Clap for the NHS’ on a Thursday evening (49%)
    2. Saying hello at the front door (37%)
    3. Social media (36%)
    4. Phone calls (33%)
    5. Seeing people in person and at a safe distance in communal spaces like parks (29%)

Intergenerational connections have also been impacted:

  • Nearly a quarter (24%) of people reporting they have made new connections with different age groups in their local community;
  • One in three (33%) 18 to 34-year-olds saying they have made new intergenerational connections;
  • For all those who have made these new connections, over two thirds (69%) are optimistic these new relationships will continue once lockdown is over.

Lynne Stubbings, Chair, National Federation of Women’s Institutes, said:

“It is wonderful to see how communities have become more connected in response to the coronavirus pandemic. It is clear that we are cherishing our local communities now more than ever – by supporting our neighbours and those who are vulnerable and getting out in the fresh air at our local green spaces.

“The WI has always thrived through difficult times and for over one hundred years it has remained at the heart of its communities, supporting those in need – and today’s lockdown is no different. WI members across the country have stepped forward to help others throughout the crisis – whether by arranging free book deliveries, sewing for the NHS, supporting food banks, or creating craft kits for families home-schooling their children. It is these acts of kindness and solidarity which have spread positivity, alleviated loneliness, and lifted people’s spirits through what has been an incredibly challenging time.

“Throughout this crisis, green spaces have also been a lifeline to people dealing with the impact of lockdown. So many of us have discovered pockets of green right on our doorsteps – a chance to get out in the fresh air, exercise, and support our mental wellbeing, which has been an oasis in difficult times. Yet too many of these places are threatened - by pollution, litter or the impacts of climate change. As we look to rebuild after the crisis, we must make sure that we continue to cherish our communities and this new sense of connectedness – both to each other and to our local environment.”

2nd April 2020

The WI goes virtual to continue supporting its members and communities

As a central pillar of community life for many women in towns, cities and villages across the UK, the WI has had to adapt rapidly over the last couple of weeks as the Coronavirus pandemic has developed. In true WI style, members have risen to the challenge of continuing their WI activities despite not being able to meet in person.

Many WI meetings, subgroups (book clubs, knitting clubs, film clubs) have been held virtually via Zoom or other video calling software. For those members who don’t use the internet, WIs have set up telephone trees and buddy-up schemes to make sure all members are being checked in on.
My Virtual WI Logo
The National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI) has launched #MyVirtualWI to acknowledge members efforts to keep the WI going.

Lynne Stubbings, Chair, NFWI, said:

“It is incredible to see the creative ways in which WI members are staying connected and tackling loneliness during the Coronavirus outbreak. The WI has always thrived through difficult times and for over one hundred years it’s remained at the heart of its communities, supporting those in need.
Not only are members looking out for people in their own WI, but many are starting or joining in local initiatives to support vulnerable people in their communities.”

Dovestone WI in Saddleworth has launched a community team of volunteers to help vulnerable and elderly people in isolation with food shops, prescription collection and doorstep drops. For members that are isolating due to their age, they are joining in efforts by ringing people who have given their phone numbers for a chat.

Dovestone WI were given a particularly important task on Friday 27 March when Nando’s distribution centre contacted them and asked if they could get rid of some spare chicken that needed using in the community.

Jessica Moreland, President, Dovestone WI said:

“This ‘spare’ chicken turned out to be 3 tonnes of chicken! We got the call at 9 am, 11 am logistics were put in place, by 12 noon we had boots on the ground and troops deployed for delivery. By 5 pm it was all gone.
Lots of families, NHS workers and elderly people were very well fed all weekend. Here at Dovestone WI we get the job done!

Finningley WI in Doncaster is supporting vulnerable people in isolation by delivering books.

Jayne Sims, President, Finningley WI, said:

“Books are wiped over with anti-bacterial wipes and then sealed in plastic bags. Wearing rubber gloves, our members have dropped the bags in porches, on doorsteps, or hung onto gates.
The delivery has been counted as our outdoor exercise and has proved popular with both members and villagers.”

Alongside community efforts, WIs have been coming up with new ways to keep their members entertained without attending their regular meetings. St Mary’s West Wickham WI in Kent hosted a cook-along for members via Facebook Live and is now planning a virtual beetle drive.

Manchester WI has started a project called #WhatWImDoingNow and is asking their members to share what they are up to via social media and challenge two other WI friends to do the same.

For women who are not already members of the WI but are interested in joining, the NFWI is encouraging them to get in touch so they can connect virtually until normal meetings resume.

For more information, please contact Fiona Hughes, PR Officer at the NFWI – / 020 7371 9300 ext. 211

21st June 2019

WI members knit scarf to show the shocking reality of climate change over 100 years

Women holding up a multicolored scarf

Eight of the knitters with the climate scarf at the NFWI Annual Meeting in Bournemouth
Image: Jenny Stewart

Eleven WI members from WIs across Cambridgeshire have knitted a five-metre long scarf representing the UK’s average temperature from 1918 to 2018.

The idea was developed in the lead up to ‘The Time Is Now’ mass lobby, taking place on Wednesday 26June, which will see thousands travel to Parliament to call for MPs to end the UK’s contribution to climate change, and for the protection of the environment through ambitious new laws to clean our air, slash plastic pollution and restore wildlife to our countryside.

The WI is known for its love of crafts as well as its history of campaigning on environmental issues, and members wanted to create a crafted item that would be a striking visual representation of climate change.

Each knitter was given a decade to knit, the bars on the scarf are colour coded with blue representing colder years and the red tones representing warmer years.

Sue Smales, Linton WI, said:

“I love knitting, so I jumped at the chance to get involved in a project that uses knitting to show climate change so clearly. It got us all thinking and talking about it. We need the policymakers to take account of climate implications in all decision making in order to reverse the current trend.”

Lesley Challands, Mill Road WI, said:

“Taking part made me focus on the decade I was given (1990s) which happened to be the years I had my children! I had forgotten how cold it was the year my daughter was born! It was a trip down memory lane weather-wise. However, when my part was included in the main scarf I realised just how much the weather has changed, bringing many issues and actually just how important it is to address the issue for future generations - our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The scarf is actually a very powerful tool as it highlights so much in such a visual way.”

The scarf will be brought along to the lobby, which will take place in the area surrounding the Palace of Westminster. The event is being organised by campaign groups The Climate Coalition and Greener UK. The two coalitions consist of more than 130 organisations representing over 15 million people – including the WI.

Lynne Stubbings, Chair of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes, said:

“Hundreds of WI members will travel far and wide on 26 June to tell their MPs the time is now for urgent action on climate and the environment. WI members’ commitment to tackling climate change is evident through projects such as the climate scarf. We welcomed the UK Government’s recent announcement on their legally binding target to reach net-zero emissions, but this is just the first step, we need to ensure that the Government follows through on the ambition needed to achieve net-zero by 2050.”

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