February 19, 2019

We kicked off the new year in style with masses of food at our first meeting of 2019 and a splendid quiz! Our January meetings are chance to catch up with old friends and for new members to sign up and find out what Manchester WI is all about. Everyone was encouraged to bring some food to share and we were inundated with tasty treats to feed our brains for a quiz about women in 2018. Congratulations to the team who got the fiendishly difficult picture round connection (& hopefully no one else was put off from coming back!). We were able to share all our exciting upcoming events for 2019, including talks on Women in the NHS, Forensic Science, and a sushi making workshop as well our regular sub-groups. Check out all our future events here!

Our meetings take place on the 4th Tuesday of each month at Chetham's School of Music, 7pm for a 7.15pm start. Sign up for membership here or on the night!

April 25, 2018

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. 

By this point we were all rea...

February 28, 2018

“That couldn’t possibly be a prison?” was the first thought going through most of our minds as the presentation paused on an image of the main avenue at Styal. Red brick houses, manicured tree-lined lawns and not a thing out of place. Once a former orphanage, Styal opened as a female prison with the first female prisoners transferred from Strangeways back in 1962. 

Eddie Tarry, Community Engagement Manager, was here to talk to us about the realities of inmate life and what exactly happens on a daily basis. He also shared stories on inmates he had worked with, ones he had helped and ones that would never leave the walls of Styal, and what life had in store for them. 

The word that comes to mind when most of us think of prisons, is surely ‘punishment.’ However, this talk delivered a few home truths, gave us the human factor, as Eddie’s word of choice was very much ‘rehabilitation.’ The statistics he shared were shocking; 46% of women admitted had suffered from domestic violence, 53% of wom...

November 6, 2017

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...

October 12, 2017

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...

September 6, 2017

Photos by Lucy Birks

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...

August 4, 2017

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...

July 5, 2017

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...

June 30, 2017

Manchester, so much to answer for

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...

June 20, 2017

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...

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