7:00am Thursday 21st February 2013
By Hannah White
THE Women’s Institute might conjure up images of older ladies making jam and singing Jerusalem, but there is a growing trend for younger women to join, adding innovation to tradition.
Scores of new groups have recently been set up in Wiltshire, and there are plans in the pipeline for further branches in Bulford and Archer’s Gate, Amesbury.
“I think the image is changing,” said Sue Curran, adviser for the Wiltshire Federation of WIs. “It used to be a bit stereotyped as a group for middle-aged and older women all into jam and cooking. We still love cooking but most people are beginning to realise the full potential.”
The WI movement came to Britain in 1915, when it encouraged women living in the country to get involved in growing and preserving food to help increase the supply to the nation during the First World War.
The last three years has seen 296 new WIs open nationwide, and while members still enjoy the traditional crafts, groups are constantly adapting as younger members join.
“At the last few WI formation meetings where I helped open new WIs, the majority of women turning up to get involved were younger women,” said Mrs Curran, 65.
“Women can do what they want to do and I think they are just realising they can put their own stamp on it.” WI members are also becoming increasingly well known for their campaigns.
“Not only is it a place to make new friends and learn about skills, it is also about having a voice on important issues, both national and international,” said Mrs Curran, who is one of about 50 members of Shrewton WI.
Most groups meet once a month and some have morning and evening meetings to suit women who work or are otherwise busy during the day. The WI has proved popular in Tidworth, where the group has moved to bigger premises to accommodate new members.
And in Sutton Veny, a group had reached its capacity so the daughter’s of the organisers set up their own separate group.
Mrs Curran would like to set up two new groups and is urging any prospective members to get in touch. Anyone interested in joining a new can contact Mrs Curran on 01980 620640 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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