Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Seven Hills Sheffield

I received a surprise call to speak to a newly formed WI in Sheffield about my Make Your Way Around Britain trip last week - and with no chance to prepare, I found myself about to address seventy women in a church hall in the city centre - help! This wasn't your stereotypical jam and jerusalem WI though - oh no...! The average age of the Seven Hills Women’s Institute is late twenties. When I asked what had drawn them to the WI, many said they were missing a sense of community, and wanted a place where women of different walks of life could get together and learn new skills. For new skills read traditional crafts - but definitely with a twist. Lindsay Garfitt, one of the women behind the new group, said that she’d been inspired by the creation of the Shoreditch Sisters in London, one of a growing number of “trendy” WI’s that are attracting a younger generation. Back in Sheffield, Lindsay and a couple of friends set about contacting the local press, and put out a message on the not-so traditional Facebook . The response was immediate and slightly overwhelming. Eighty-six new WI’s have been set up in the last year alone – many in urban areas. This is incredible for an organisation that’s seen its membership more than halve since the 1970’s to just over two hundred thousand. So what’s going on?

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