The May meeting of Bognor Regis WI started in a swirl of colour with President Dinah Barrand sporting her new striped dungarees made from recycled fabric and supplied by a fair trade African company. This set the tone of the meeting which focussed on the Resolutions put forward by the National Federation of Womens’ Institutes but with an overarching theme of how all members could make a difference to our world by making small (or bigger) changes to their lifestyles.
First, however, Dinah introduced Mandy, the Deputy Co-ordinator of the Bognor Food Bank. She described how most food banks (Bognor included) come under the aegis of the Trussell Trust, a charity which aims to end hunger and poverty in the UK and to campaign for change to end the need for food banks. Mandy talked about the circumstances which led to people needing short term help including delays/changes in benefit payments, redundancy, pregnancy and domestic violence. Bognor Food Bank relies on donations of non-perishable food from members of the public and clients need a voucher from a referring agency such as CAB, Radio Respect, My Sisters House etc. This system allows the referring agency to work with the person, providing ongoing support to hopefully improve their circumstance
As well as providing food, however, Bognor Food Bank provides care and compassion and ensures that all clients are valued, listened to and cared about. The Food Bank has also provided courses on budget cookery and tries to give extra help in the summer holidays – when school meals are not available – and special Christmas bags. Sadly, the need is growing with 3,000 people being fed last year – an increase of 33%.
After a very warm vote of thanks both for Mandy’s talk and for the excellent work they are doing, the meeting moved on to a quiz and vote on the potential resolutions. These were the provision of additional council funding for public bus services and encouraging more women (including young women) to have regular smear tests. It was agreed by a clear majority that both resolutions were worthy of support and the delegate to the national AGM in June will vote in accordance with the wishes of BRWI.
During the extended refreshment break with Prosecco and cake (including the delicious vegan cupcakes – to view the recipe – click Vegan Ginger Cupcakes) members had the opportunity to explore the displays on green living set up by the Committee. These included a clear demonstration of what items can be put in the recycling bin and what can be recycled elsewhere, green replacements/substitutions for household products including homemade beeswax food covering and pan scrubbers, making the move to a plant based diet and the resources available to do so, reducing or eliminating the need for single use plastics, recycling and upcycling materials to make bags (and the examples included some unlikely raw materials!) and making rich and friable compost from garden and kitchen waste. To see all the ideas click here Lots of questions were asked and many pledges made to try something new; it was inspiring to see how the members really wanted to make a difference to the lives of the local community and the wider world.
Later in the month, twenty members will be making a visit to Tuppenny Barn a sustainable living education centre in Southbourne, and three members will be joining lots of other WIs – and many other groups concerned about climate change – when they go on the Time is Now mass lobby of Parliament. This summer the Government will decide whether to end the UK’s contribution to climate change by committing to a net zero emissions target. They will also have the chance to end nature’s decline by committing to a strong Environment Bill. The Time is Now on June 26th is hoped to be the largest mass lobby for climate and the environment that the UK has ever seen. The WI is very proud to be part of it!!
Click to display the Record of May 19 meeting
Photos: Katie and Kate