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What’s New from HQ (June 2020)

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At the time of writing we are all in lockdown and it is difficult to know what we will be able to do. Treasurers should look out for a mailing that will be sent as soon as we are able to. This will include:

  • Booking form for treasurer workshops, which are planned for Saturday, 22 August and Tuesday, 25 August  (Guildford); Wednesday, 26 August and Thursday, 3 September (Caterham). These will be subject to whatever restrictions are in place at the time. You can also book from the posts on the What’s On page.
  • Request form to apply for an Independent Financial Examiner for your WI
  • Form to enable the payment of additional subscriptions received since payment made in March
  • A copy of the insurance certificate for the year to 15 April, 2021
  • Helpful hints for treasurers for their year end accounts

All these documents will be available on the WI Treasurers tab of the Document Library page, so do check for non-data protected material and up-to-date information.

Sheena Landgraf, Federation Treasurer

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Message from our Federation Chairman (June 2020)

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Lockdown lessons for climate change

There is no doubt that Covid-19 will change the way we live forever!
Routine is now the order of the day, breakfast in the sun, WI work, gardening, cooking and patchwork, and walks across the adjacent army ranges replacing visits to Wisley, the only time I step beyond our gate. Simple aspects of everyday living provide their challenges. Can I eke the milk out until the next supermarket delivery? How can I use 40 chicken drumsticks, delivered as an alternative to a chicken? Why, when I order a pair of knickers online, do I have to give them my bra size?

Each day I hear about the many wonderful things SFWI members are doing in lockdown. I have been extraordinarily moved by how members have met the current challenge and have developed so many ways to deliver a monthly meeting and to keep in regular contact — meetings on line, craft activities delivered to members, phone calls and cards. Your versatility, as detailed in this edition of SWIN, is an inspiration to us all. If your committee has not yet taken the initiative to find alternative ways to engage with its members, then this edition has the answers, read on! If you have an idea, then implement it. Your fellow members will be delighted.

Very many WIs have also answered the call from local NHS and care homes to make PPE. Your efforts have been impressive. I salute you all. The Federation is most proud of your achievement.

As the unbelievable and tragic death toll gradually reduces and the government guidance relaxes a little, we must look to the future. For the moment however we must live under a set of seemingly incoherent, unfair and sometimes upsetting rules, where a cleaning lady can visit my house, but a member of my family cannot. I can greet my friend’s dog in the park but not my own grandchild … We all have our frustrations.

In a recent YouGov poll, a significant majority of participants did not wish to return to life as it was before. Do you? What is your vision for the future? We are certainly far more vulnerable than we thought we were. We can no longer live in a false bubble of comfort and complacency.  Covid-19 is a significant reminder that we are an integral part of the world that we are totally dependent on, and that we have the capacity to destroy it. We have been reminded that we are utterly reliant on nature. What does this mean? Will we emerge from this a more thoughtful and engaging species?

One thing is certain: climate change is far more of a threat to the world than the pandemic and we should take it much more seriously. Post Covid-19, radical changes in government agendas will be needed, a new approach to public services and the tax system, and a move towards equality in society. Can we begin to imagine that future? Shall we begin to live this new normal now? A normal that is good for the planet?

The WI is playing a significant role in campaigning on climate change. At the moment it seems as if there is little we can do, as daily living provides us with unique and difficult challenges, but we are already making a difference by our reduction in car usage, cancelling overseas holidays, growing fruit and vegetables and ‘Making Do and Mend’. Resourcefulness is key.

Back to today. The sun has risen on a beautiful spring morning, the birds sing, my enchanting wood mouse vacuums up under the bird feeder. There is much to enjoy. And remember, as the VE Day Commemoration drifts into our memory, we are not at war. This is a time of peace not conflict, so we will get through this in a calm and controlled way.

And finally, in the words of Rumi, the medieval, Persian Sufi poet: ‘This too will pass’.

Carol Gartrell, Federation Chairman

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June SWIN now available here

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June’s Surrey WI News is now available for you to read online.

We are sure you’ll agree that our Editor June Green is doing a great job under current circumstances! Big thanks to her, and to all our members who take the time to contribute

In this month’s edition there is plenty of interesting reading including: Plastic-free Bingo challenge, Liberate your wardrobe, Meet the Trustees, Choux Pastry Workshop and much more.

It is available to view on your phone, tablet or computer via Flipsnack@ June Surrey WI News.

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Resolutions for 2020 NFWI Update

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Update on 2019/2020 resolutions process

As the 2020 NFWI Annual Meeting was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the two resolutions due to be discussed were not able to be debated or voted on by delegates.

The NFWI Board of Trustees has decided that in these exceptional circumstances, the results of the shortlist selection process will be used as a proxy for the Annual Meeting vote.

In the shortlisting selection stage, two resolutions (stem cells and modern slavery) attracted a clear majority of selections from members (over 70%).

The NFWI Board felt that this was the most democratic means available to determine the outcome of this year’s resolution process, taking into account time and resource constraints and the challenges of the current lockdown period. The Board also wanted to recognise the huge amount of time and effort that members, WIs and federations put into the resolutions process this year.

This means that the two resolutions have now been adopted by the WI, and members are free to campaign on these issues. The resolutions are as follows:

A call to increase potential stem cell donor registration

There is an urgent need to increase the number of people registered on the aligned UK stem cell registry in order to provide potentially life-saving treatment to people of all ages with certain blood cancers. We call on all WI members to promote registration to the database to avoid people dying whilst waiting for a match.

End Modern Slavery

There are tens of thousands of victims of modern slavery hiding in plain sight in the UK. Modern slavery has severe consequences for the health and mental wellbeing of survivors. The NFWI calls on the Government to protect victims of modern slavery in the first instance and deliver longer term support to help them rebuild their lives. We call on our members to raise awareness of the prevalence of modern slavery throughout society and to campaign to defeat it.

Further information, next steps and a breakdown of the shortlist selection results can be found on NFWI’s website

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Cranleigh Show 2020 – Cancelled

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Cranleigh Show – Cancelled

This was due to take place on 28 June at Cranleigh Show Ground, Bookhurst Road (Ewhurst Road), Cranleigh, GU6 7DW. Due to the coronavirus it has been cancelled for 2020.

The show in 2021 will take place on Sunday 4 July and the schedule will be made available in March.

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Lady Denman Cup Competition 2020

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The Lady Denman Cup Competition is a long running, prestigious competition, attracting a high level of interest from members year after year.  The current lockdown situation maybe challenging for many, but its the perfect opportunity to encourage members to develop or learn new skills and take part in activities which wouldn’t have perhaps normally captured their interest, or been able to give the time to.

For this reason, a creative writing competition could be the perfect way for people to ‘escape’ and let their imaginations run wild and I am pleased to confirm that the Lady Denman Cup competition will continue this year.  However, a decision has been made to extend the competition timescale; following discussions with a number of federations, we are aware that some federations have had to furlough staff, which would mean administering the competition would either be very difficult or impossible.  By extending the timeframe, the competition not only becomes open and fair to all who wish to take part, but it also helps reduce the pressure off everyone involved.

The theme for this year’s Lady Denman Cup is “What I heard on the bus”

Using no more than 500 words, WI members are invited to submit a piece of writing, either comical, serious, fact or fiction, based on a conversation they have overheard, or imagined they had heard, on the bus.

To allow a fair and standardised competition timescale across all WIs and federations, the NFWI has set a closing date of Friday, 18 September 2020 for members to submit their entry to their Federation office.

After this date, federations have until Friday, 16 October 2020 to select up to three entries to go forward for national judging.  Results will be announced by mid-December 2020.

A revised schedule, individual entry form and federation entry form will be available to download from MyWI shortly.

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What’s New from HQ (May 2020)

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Circumstances permitting, towards the end of May we will be sending the following to all treasurers:

  • Form for Additional Membership Fees
  • Application Form for Independent Financial Examiners
  • Confirmation of the Federation Public Liability Insurance if your WI has paid its contribution with membership fees earlier this year
  • A list of additional speakers for the 2020 Year Book which should be passed to your programme planner

There may be additional items so please check the contents letter which comes with the pack. If you are a treasurer and do not received any/all of the above, please contact the office urgently.

Many Treasurers are now working on the accounts from an Excel spreadsheet which includes a financial statement. If, however, you still require two A4 copies of the financial statement, please email the office sfwi2dr@yahoo.co.uk and these will be posted to you.

Diane Sanderson, Federation Secretary.

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Competition Time – The Southey Cup

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***STOP PRESS***
The closing date for The Southey Cup has been extended to 15 May so if you’ve been thinking about entering, maybe with more time at home you might still be able to submit an entry. If you have already sent in an entry to the SFWI Office, it would be great if you could send a copy to Angie Leach by email (angieleach93@hotmail.com) as the office is closed.

Please contact your WI adviser for more information.

OUR new competition for the Southey Cup is designed to discover how you advertise your WI and promote it to attract new members. To enter, send in no more than two sides of A4 paper containing either:

Your written programme;

  • a download from your website or social media;
  • photographs; or
  • something else.

The competition will be judged by WI Advisers from another Federation. Their decision will be final. They will be looking for clear information of how and where to find you; what members and visitors can expect; contact information and overall A Window to Your WI  that will make people want to step inside!

Please send either five paper copies or scanned/downloadable copies of your entry to the Federation office by 1 15 May 2020.

 

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Message from our Federation Chairman (May 2020)

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A tide of emotions: but there must be Hope

Having experienced great relief on our return to the UK in early March, after surviving a once-in-a-life-time sandstorm and a Covid-19 outbreak at a nearby hotel, I was looking forward to a full diary of WI events.

Normality was the order of the day. I attended Elstead WI’s very special 100th birthday celebration and enjoyed, with around 40 Surrey members, the Spring residential weekend at Denman. I drafted my May column, a light-hearted missive, focussing on the celebration of May Day: Maypoles, Morris Dancing and Monty Modlyn, and even a little licentiousness and debauchery (relating to the origins of May Day celebrations, I assure you). I then moved on to address the VE Day commemorations, the role of WI members in WW2, their significant contribution to the war effort and post-war, as they looked to the promised future with an aim to change the world. I finished with an exhortation to members to support climate change initiatives, that have “rallied the population in a way that has not been seen since WW2” (Caroline Lucas MP, March 2020). I find it very hard to believe that I wrote this as late as mid-March!

Can you recall your last ‘normal’ WI encounter? On Wednesday, March 11, I went to a very well attended Emlyn Down Group Meeting, and what a very special day it was. We made a mosaic for the garden, engaged in relaxed conversation, shared a fish and chip lunch and participated in a very well organised meeting — thank you, it was a lovely day. Even a few hugs were exchanged. Maybe the last for some time, for some!

Over the next few days disbelief set in as the implications of Covid-19 struck, like a tsunami. Our world was turned inside-out, or rather, outside-in. Only four days later we were cancelling the Annual Council Meeting, then very quickly the demise of very many Surrey WI events, including Worplesdon WI’s Centenary and Bronzefield Bees’ 10th birthday, followed by a torrent of cancellations which included all Surrey WI and SFWI events until the end of June.

Reality now began to kick in. Could this be happening? The amount of work involved in hibernating the Federation kept me focussed for the first month and insulated me from the reality of what was happening in the outside world. A new, strange vocabulary emerged, of furloughing (formally a leave of absence granted to a member of the services or a missionary) and of shielding and social distancing. Our personal challenge was to address protocols, to work out which category we, our family and friends fitted into, and to restructure our daily lives accordingly.

Reality has become uncertainty. Nothing is clear, nothing is definite. We are in a constantly changing world where the goalposts move daily. Even the familiar things of life have changed their function. My handbag has become a receptacle for keys. The front door has not been unlocked for a month, my car’s boot is where the delivery driver leaves the food, which I obsessively spray with disinfectant (a freebie from Hampton Court Flower Show) and leave to decontaminate.

Amidst all this has been the arrival of Spring, and with it hope, but also guilt. Covid-19 has given us the gift of time, and with it more of a sense of awareness. It been hard not to celebrate the idyllic breaking of spring. To walk in the garden, to hear the dawn chorus uninterrupted by the drone of traffic. The sunsets seem more perfect. Is this a direct result of the drastic fall in air pollution? When was the last time the trees burst into leaf, silhouetted against a sky devoid of vapour trails? Guilt then leads to a deep sense of grief — for those lost, both known and unknown. Grief in being isolated from family and friends.
Grief for time lost, never to be reclaimed. The yearning to hug one’s children and grandchildren, to spend time with those who are most dear to us, and the question, that sits in the shadows, when will we see them again?

Guilt re-emerges. Why them and not me? What can I do to make a difference? However hard it is, the single most important thing we can all do at this stage is to stay at home. Inaction seems the exact opposite of what the WI is renowned for, but for the moment this is by far the best thing we, as individuals, can do.

But there is hope; there must be hope. In the words of the 14th Century Dame Julian of Norwich (who you may be familiar with if you, like me, have been avidly reading Elly Griffiths’ books, inspired by her literary lunch) and who, even though she witnessed the ravages of the Black Death, believed that:
“All shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”

And finally, in the words of Queen Elizabeth II, a member of the WI for 77 years:
“We will be with our friends again;
we will be with our families again;
we will meet again.”
(April 5, 2020).

Take care and stay safe.
Carol A. Gartrell, Federation Chairman

The photo shows Carol in her garden, sitting in the willow dome she has created, after learning how to on a course at Denman

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