The winter reception at the Judges’ Lodgings in Aylesbury tonight proved to be a very pleasant evening. The event was organised by the Bucks Federation Chairman, Jenny Street in aid of the Denman College Appeal. The guests were Barbara Russell the Mayor of Aylesbury, Val Letheren the Chairman of Bucks County Council and Judge Frances Sheridan. The refreshments had been prepared by Posh Nosh but were served by members of the BFWI Board of Trustees resplendent in frilly aprons made specially by Tracey, one of our ACWW representatives. Cantlos provided the musical entertainment, singing and playing on a selection of stringed instruments. Each of the guests gave a short speech and Judge Sheridan promised to take parties from those attending on tours of the chambers and the cells and throw in a bit of the history of the premises at the same time. The evening also provided the members with a chance to catch up with all the news of friends in other WIs across the county.
We wondered whether we had made a mistake about the venue when we arrived at the AVDC Gatehouse this afternoon for the WI Resolutions Selection meeting. What were all these men in suits doing milling around “The Street”? We were soon directed to the Diamond Room where we were able to sit in comfort and listen to the team of WI Advisers who had volunteered to present the six resolutions to make the short list for June 2017.
The first subject was the one of loneliness not just for old people but at every age and of both genders. We rather thought that this was something the WI was aware of and could do something about locally without perhaps using up a mandate on it. The next resolution asked the Government to make everyone more aware of and to take action against the practice of Female Genital Mutilation(FGM) which although illegal in the UK is still happening here and girls are being taken abroad for the operation. There have been no prosecutions. Why? Is the WI able to act on this issue under its “Violence against Women” mandate without another mandate?
Equal access for all who need specialised maternal mental health services was a worthy cause because it is a huge problem which suffers in the postcode lottery when different authorities have different standards of provision. Would it be enough for WI members to find out what is available locally and then challenge the status quo near them? Another worthy cause is the support of women’s refuges but again many WIs are already active on this front preparing boxes of items for homeless women and children. How can the WIs and NFWI increase the awareness of the plight of refugees in camps where women and children are at greater risk from abuse and have no safe place to sleep and eat? It is difficult enough to actually set up camps where they are so desperately needed let alone provide safe areas within them. We are all too aware of these international problems from the media coverage and are keen to contribute towards the organised charities that deal with them. Is that enough or am I being practical but heartless?
The final resolution on plastic soup is rumoured to have come from Bucks following the attempt last year to include the banning of plastic beads in cosmetics on the list for the 2016 AGM. Plastic beads are being removed from products now but here the Government is being asked to fund research and develop solutions to the pollution of the oceans by tiny microplastic fibres being shed from washed synthetics. Similar damage to what can be done by the beads can follow fibres entering the food chain. It will be expensive to combat this contamination but it is a growing time bomb for future generations.
These meetings are always interesting and helpful before WI members make their selection.