Public Presentation Team Visit – Frenchay Women's Institute Group
Monday 16th July 2018, has seen SCLT volunteer presenter Ashley Jones attending the monthly meeting of the Frenchay Women’s Institute (WI) at the very well appointed Frenchay Village Hall on Beckspool Road. Ash delivered a presentation on staying safe in later life and gave tips on avoiding the dangers of all types of financial abuse offences (scams & frauds) to help the audience stay safe in later life.
The WI movement began at Stoney Creek, Ontario in Canada in 1897 when Adelaide Hoodless addressed a meeting for the wives of members of the Farmers' Institute. WIs quickly spread throughout Ontario and Canada, with 130 branches launched by 1905 in Ontario alone, and the groups flourish in their home province today. As of 2013, the Federated Women's Institutes of Ontario (FWIO) had more than 300 branches with more than 4,500 members.
The first WI meeting in Great Britain took place on 16 September 1915 at Llanfairpwll on Anglesey in Wales. It had two clear aims: to revitalise rural communities and to encourage women to become more involved in producing food during the First World War. Since then the organisation's aims have broadened and it is now the largest women's voluntary organisation in the UK. The organisation celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2015 and currently has approximately 208,000 members in 7,000 WI’s. Today it plays a unique role in enabling women to gain new skills, take part in wide-ranging activities, and campaign on issues that matter to them and their communities.
After the end of the First World War, the Board of Agriculture withdrew its sponsorship, although the Development Commission financially supported the work of the forming of new WIs and gave core funding to the NFWI until it could become financially independent. By 1926 the Women's Institutes were fully independent and rapidly became an essential part of rural life.
One of their features was an independence from political parties or institutions, or church or chapel, which encouraged activism by non-establishment women, which helps to explain why the WI has been extremely reluctant to support anything that can be construed as war work, despite their wartime formation. During the Second World War, they limited their contribution to such activities as looking after evacuees, and running the Government-sponsored Preservation Centres where volunteers canned or made jam of excess produce. All this produce was sent to depots to be added to the rations.
Amongst WI aims and activities are providing women with educational opportunities and the chance to build new skills, enabling them to take part in a wide variety of activities, campaigning on issues that matter to them and their communities.
Women's Institutes in England, Wales, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man are affiliated with the National Federation of Women's Institutes. In Scotland and Northern Ireland there are similar organisations tied to the WI through the Associated Country Women of the World: the Scottish Women's Rural Institutes and the Women's Institutes of Northern Ireland.
The national headquarters of the WI in England, Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, the National Federation of Women's Institutes (NFWI), is in London. There is also an office in Cardiff, NFWI-Wales, and a residential college in Oxfordshire, Denman College. WI Enterprises is the trading arm of the organisation and exists to raise funds and provide benefits for members. In 2010, there are approximately 205,000 members of 6,500 Women's Institutes in England, Wales and the islands, linked through the Associated Country Women of the World to other WIs worldwide (in almost a century, Colonel Richard Stapleton-Cotton and his dog Tinker are the only two males ever to be allowed in as fully paid-up WI members).
In 1948 NFWI bought Marcham Park in Berkshire and converted it into a short-stay residential adult education college, called Denman College in honour of Lady Gertrude Denman. Now referred to as Denman, it has grown and developed over the years and is a well-appointed adult education centre attended by approximately 6,000 students each year. It is open to non-members as well as members.
The WI Cookery School at Denman offers a range of over 100 day schools, residential courses and family courses. The courses are tutored by specialists.
Following the 45-minute presentation, which included audio and video content, as well as operational advice from the seasoned presenter (who is also a serving police officer), Ash commented “It has been a real pleasure to join the ladies of Frenchay Women’s Institute this evening. The audience clearly takes a strong interest in the world of scams and frauds, which is just as well, as this remains a serious area of concern with our swiftly ageing population.
Hopefully the advice that I have been able to pass along tonight and our well-reserved methodology of avoiding the scam-traps, will help the ladies stay safe and fraud-free in the future. As well as allowing them to help their friends and neighbours stay safe as well”
Every member of the audience received a personal copy of the Senior Siren magazine – the award-winning crime prevention and lifestyle magazine of the Senior Citizen Liaison Team.