Every May we hold an AGM, which is an important process in the WI calendar. Every WI is overseen by the National Federation of WI (NFWI) and regional federation (Manchester WI is overseen by Lancashire), and we have to adhere to a few processes to remain affiliated. The AGM is also a chance for members to vote on national WI resolutions, which are campaigns that the WI as a whole takes on, and as well as on our president and which charity we will support for the year. There was plenty of cake, tea and prosecco at the meeting as well to help keep everyone occupied!
Current President Shelley gave an update on our finances. We keep a proportion of the membership fees, with the rest going to NFWI and Lancashire Federation. She explained how most of our income is spent on room hire, and how membership fees are vital in order to keep Manchester WI running.
This was a meeting not to be missed! Chocolate tasting? yes please! Gloria Lilley, a co-winner of Divine chocolate’s ‘Three Choclateers’ competition, took us on a journey from the fascinating beginnings of chocolate in Mesoamerica to it’s present form as one of the most loved confectionaries in the world.
After a brief history lesson we went back to the cocoa farms of Kuala Kokoo in Ghana and she guided us through the bean to bar process - showing us samples of the hardy fruit the beans come from and how they are transformed into the chocolate we know and recognise. Gloria also talked us through the different ways in which Divine ensures they keep to their mission of being 100% fair-trade. There are so many chocolate companies around that do not use ethically sourced beans and to this day still implement child labour. It was refreshing to hear the lengths Divine go to in order to help their farmers become sustainable and allow them to share in the success.
You may have noticed us talking about our upcoming collaboration with Runaway Brewery on our social media. We've created a limited edition Lady Grey (W)IPA to mark 100 years since some women were able to vote, and will be launching it in time for International Women's Day! We're really excited to be able to create something locally that celebrates women in slightly different way to traditional perceptions of the WI. The beer will be available in various pubs and bottle shops across Manchester and features our logo on the bottle.
Last week members were invited to go along to Runaway and help with the brewing process. We got stuck in mashing in, weighing out the hops and digging out the mash, and celebrated with a few beers afterwards. It was amazing to be part of the process!
We're holding a launch party on March 10th at Runaway Brewery and everyone is welcome - check out our facebook event for all the details.
October's meeting was based around talking about women's health. I personally love talking about health conditions so was particularly looking forward to this one!
First up we had the brilliant comedian Amy Vreeke, who told us about her struggle with endometriosis and made us laugh with her. Amy's standup show highlights the difficulty many women face getting a correct diagnosis for endometriosis and the life-changing impact the condition has.
And then we were joined by group Every Month Manchester who told us about their amazing work to tackle period poverty. They create period packs containing sanitary products for people experiencing homelessness and poverty in Manchester, distributed via foodbanks, shelters and charities. They currently create 250 packs a month and run entirely on donations. They got us campaigning through writing letters to the council asking them to fund a scheme where sanitary products are free in schools, walk-in centres and sexual health clinics. If yo...
Our September meeting theme was 'Music in Manchester' - whilst I am well aware of the pride Manchester has for it's music scene, I had no idea what to expect from this meeting. When you think of Manchester based musicians the first ones to spring to mind may well be the likes of the Smiths, Oasis, the Happy Mondays, Elbow etc etc etc. Men seem to feature heavily in this list, so it was great to hear about some work going on to promote the contribution of women in music.
First we heard from Natalie McCool, a singer-songwriter and musician who has written with Paul McCartney, collaborated with Beth Orton and won 2013 Female Artist of the Year at the Liverpool Music Awards. She responded to audience questions and treated us to a wonderful set.
We were also joined by Kate Lowes, Head of Programmes at Brighter Sound, who are a charity promoting diversity and supporting women within the music industry. Kate spoke about their recent projects involving collaboration between female musicians and...
Manchester WI were thrilled to be involved in the Manchester Pride parade again this year, marching with four other WIs from around Greater Manchester. Taking place on August bank holiday weekend, Manchester Pride is one of the longest running Pride events in the UK.
This year’s theme was ‘Class of 2017’ which meant we broke out our craft skills and fashioned cardboard mortar boards and decorated gowns! Each WI was assigned a different gown colour so we formed a mini rainbow as we marched. The atmosphere, as always, was inspiring, and we dance-walked the entire hour long parade through the city centre. Thousands of people had come out to watch the parade and we were cheered along for the whole route.
In our June meeting, we crafted pieces of a banner commemorating the Manchester attack, which was carried at the front of our group (below).
To top off an amazing day, the WI won the ‘Spirit of Pride’ award! Huge congratulations go to everyone who was involved in organisin...
This month's meeting was all about preparations for Pride! Manchester WI are proud to be marching in the Manchester Pride parade on August 26th, alongside other WIs from Greater Manchester.
During the meeting, each table was tasked with creating a section of a banner which has been designed to commemorate the victims of the Manchester Arena attack earlier this year. We used a simple appliqué technique (with instructions!) to craft banner sections, and as always there was plenty of cake to help us along.
Also present at the meeting were Kostas Arvanitis from the Centre for Museology (University of Manchester) and BelleVue Productions. They interviewed and filmed members who were involved in the clean-up of teddies left in St Ann's Square after the attack. The aim was to capture volunteers thoughts and reflections, and contributes to a wider project documenting the process and considerations made during the clean-up of tributes left in St Ann's Square, and will form an archive of mat...
At our June meeting, we were lucky enough to receive a visit from Radio 5 Live’s award-winning Anna Foster. With a stellar track record in news journalism, which started at Newsbeat, and with roles that have since taken her from Cumbria to Iraq – Anna is definitely well placed to share some media insight, which she kindly did for our Journalism themed meeting last month.
Following the recent atrocities in Manchester and London, Anna guided us through the emotional coverage carried out for Radio 5 Live. Involving the public in voxpops and longer-form interviews, Anna said: “Journalism can be the hardest when it’s on your own doorstep, and sometimes the words we feel don't easily come to hand.”
However, highlighting the importance of the press in situations such as these, Anna believes it’s the media’s duty to give a voice to the victims and to get answers to the public’s questions.
In this way, she acknowledged that although there will always be uncomfortable moments as a journalist, as l...
Manchester was always a place of my schoolgirl dreams, even though I lived hundreds of miles away.
The dreary northern streets might as well have been paved with gold for me, a fan of The Smiths, who swore one day to make a pilgrimage here. To walk in the footsteps of Morrissey and Johnny Marr, to see the old mills and canals and know what Ancoats and Hulme and Salford were really like - all the places that were referenced in Smiths’ lyrics and artwork, and which seemed so far away and exotic.
My first trip to the city was in 2001, and it wasn’t quite what I’d had in mind - the tired buildings of Didsbury serving as a weekend bolthole as I visited a university friend and did little other than sit in an Irish pub and dodge the typical torrents. But by the time I ventured back here in 2014, it felt so different - and on that occasion, it was to make it my permanent home.
Nowadays, I walk those self-same roads that my musical heroes did, and none of it gets t...
Manchester is the city to where I was born, grew up and started my life. It is the place that taught me the importance of compassion, inclusivity, and understanding. Only upon developing into an adult and being exposed to the world outside of this enriching city, did I come to realise what a rarity this is.
Manchester is a place of opportunity, creativity, and hard work. Living in its bounds are proud individuals who practice inspiring art, envision innovative concepts, and voice the power of persistence. It is the place where my small family was formed and my closest friendships founded. Only upon contemplating this worth can I grasp how instrumental this humanizing city has been to my own life.
Manchester celebrates individuality, multiculturalism, and an underlying sense of community. Here tragedy and destruction are met with union and hope. It is a place where the image of a bee lines our streets, is worn on our clothes and imprints our skin. Only upon reflection of the 22 years of m...