The Current Affairs sub-committee met today and again there was talk about resolutions.However the bulk of the time was spent in planning the Great Food Debate in High Wycombe on the 25th September. There are going to be some high flying speakers and we are hoping that the WI members will do us proud by turning up with really good questions for debate and reasoned points of view. The ACWW theme of Grow locally, Benefit globally will also feature and some supermarket chains will be there to fight their corner. The organisation of the Royal Greenwich outing has been a headache but we were very pleased that the WI members responded so well to this offer and even more pleased that nearly every WI re-acted with understanding well when we had to limit it to WI members only. We hated doing this but it was the only way to be able to take almost all the members who wanted to go.We received one offer to come in drag which we regretfully declined! This may have been inspired by the photos of WI members dressed as pirates which appeared in the national papers this week.
We are suggesting that WIs construct their own websites so that the Federation website could link them in and they could link into the NFWI as well. We were assured that this was easy to do and if any WI wanted practical help it could enquire through Stuart Lodge.
Our WI Discussion Group met this evening. I don't know who set the topic: it sounded a bit off-putting but proved very interesting."Access to Welfare" started with some background notes on the Beveridge Report and the introduction of the National Health Service. If the Government needs help with re-organising the NHS, I suggest the Ministers contact our WI! We touched on the work of the old Job Centres as well and uncovered the fact that this Universal Credit being piloted in the North East relies completely on on-line access which is a "catch 22" situation for those who have no money, no computer and no confidence in their ability to use the websites. There must be many people whose personal pride would prevent them from using the computers in public places or from asking help from someone where their financial position has to be discussed.
Do we hear a WI resolution in the making? We all agreed that it was a damned sight better than the one coming up in June.
There was a good turn-out tonight for the annual meeting, always referred to as the Resolution Meeting. The motion about preserving the High Street created a lot of discussion, although it was by no means all about the content of the resolution. Knowing that abstentions are not counted and therefore a waste of a vote, we finally instructed our delegate to vote in favour because we didn't want to appear unconcerned about the plight of the high street traders BUT we thought the resolution was already in the public eye with all the Mary Portas business: it lacked any definite aim: it was too long and woolly. To a certain degree, it was unrealistic too because no one can halt on-line buying or persuade people to completely give up visiting superstores. We thought that there must have been better resolutions to choose and someone should express our disappointment to NFWI.
The craft group have made over 100 items for the stall at the Young Farmers Show in June and a working party was set up for the August Garden Party. A very favourable report was given of the April Council Meeting and of the meeting of 3 of our members on behalf of Bucks Federation with John Bercow about the chronic shortage of midwives which was last year's NFWI mandate---something that the WIs could work on and try to make a difference.