The very first Women’s Institute was formed in 1897 in Stoney Creek, Ontario, Canada as a branch of the Farmer’s Institute it brought women from isolated communities together and offered training in home economics, child care and those aspects of farming that were traditionally done by women, such as poultry keeping and small farm animal husbandry.
This year the British WI (Women’s Institute) celebrates its Centenary, the first meeting in the UK was held in Llanfairpwll on Anglesey, Wales, on 16 September 1915. Since then, the organisation has grown to become the largest women’s voluntary organisations in the UK with over 212,000 members in 6,600 WIs.
The WI was first established to educate rural women, and to encourage countrywomen to get involved in growing and preserving food to help to increase the supply of food to the war-torn nation. Education and the sharing of skills have always been at the heart of the organisation, and this remains true today.
Whilst the meeting venues might have changed from the local village hall to local café, the ethos and reputation of the WI remains the same, and women join now to meet new friends, learn new skills and make a difference on matters that are important to them now as fellow members did in 1915.
The WI is hugely popular and is not just about Jam and Jerusalem, join the WI and you can get involved in: Making Crafts, Food and Cooking, Floral Art and Gardening, Arts, Sports, Science and Leisure Activities, Competitions and Campaigns.
The WI has a long history of campaigning on a wide range of issues, WI campaigns are about changing things for the better and tackling the issues that matter to members, some of their current campaigns are:
- Time to Talk about Organ Donation
- Climate Change
- SOS for High Streets and Town Centres
- More Midwives
- The WI Great Food Debate
- Love Your Libraries
- Care Not Custody
- SOS for Honeybees
Now that the nights are really drawing in, instead of sitting in front of the TV why not become a member, learn new skills and find how to cook, preserve and store all the wonderful things that you have grown this year, have a look on their website to find a WI near you.