The local WI held a New Members' Evening tonight in one of the town's pubs.We have welcomed several new WI members over the past year, some of whom have belonged before in other county federations but the rest are new to WI. One doesn't really get the chance to get to know people at the monthly meetings until they have come a number of times and certainly one cannot explain much of what the organisation which they have just joined is about. So the committee drew up a programme of speakers from within the WI to cover the most important points of the WI movement. Of course we had to run through its formation and its 3 level structure and translate a glossary of initials which we bandy about happily all the time.After that we got on to resolutions and mandates and our place in the community. Then it was up to the various groups which have been formed in the local WI to give a sales-pitch for her own interest group.Time then for another drink over which to chat and get to know who everyone was, whereabouts they had come to live and what had brought them to the town. I am sure that we all went home feeling that we had done our best to give a good impression of the WI and what it stands for and made our new members feel welcome. It is however a twoway process so the fact that the new people had come along showed that they were willing to play their part.
The subjects that the discussion group choose are often topical. We were a little late with the talk about flooding but some poor unfortunates are still mopping up their homes and land after the rain has stopped.The Thames Valley is the nearest disaster area to us but Buckingham and Stony Stratford suffered from floods and had endured some anxious nights watching the rising levels of the local rivers. Quite a few of us had suffered the effects of domestic flooding and knew the time it takes to dry out after a sudden influx of water; but that is usually just water. To have the house full of water and sewage for weeks on end must be a nightmare. We felt that it was noticeable that there was an increase in aid once the Thames Valley was affected but before that the farmers and residents in rural villages had received very little help.Some farmers had lost everything they had and even their future income was jeopardized for a couple of years.If climate change is going to bring about these intense storms, preventative measures will need to be made, drainage needs improvement and houses cannot be allowed on flood plains. There was very little that the WI can do except make the Government aware of its concern through the resolution process. Many WIs like ours take part in the local emergency planning scheme and these prove their worth when these situations arise. The media was criticised for getting in the way of relief operations and hyping it up unnecessarily with pictures of teenage girls "being carried to safety" by soldiers walking in water which just about came up to their ankles!