The WI Lite in Stratford-upon-Avon is one of the ‘next generation’ Women’s Institute groups to launch in the UK. Following on from the success of the first group in Bramley, Hampshire, Stratford resident Anna Holdsworth felt that a similar group would work well in Stratford-upon-Avon, and set up a group on the social networking site Facebook to find out if the girls of Stratford would be interested in such an organisation. The response was overwhelming. Within two weeks the group had reached almost one hundred women, and Anna contacted the Warwickshire Federation of Women’s Institutes (WFWI) to find out more about getting started. After an initial consultation meeting with a selection of the interested ladies, the WFWI started the ball rolling to launch us as an official WI. The rest, as they say, is history!
WILS is the fastest growing Women’s Institute in Warwickshire’s history. Within two months our membership had reached eighty members, and continued to grow to 138.
WHAT IS DIFFERENT ABOUT A ‘LITE’GROUP
The term is not official – a Women’s Institute group can call itself whatever it likes (within reason!) There is a group in the South of England that calls itself the WIGS (WI Girls). Essentially, these next generation WIs are all about bringing the image of the Women’s Institute up to date to attract younger members, and offering meetings and activities that are less formal and more relevant to a new generation. The institution has been a key part of British history and without this reinvention it was feared that many younger women would not consider joining the organisation, as they felt it was all ‘jam and Jerusalem’.
There is no such thing as a typical WILS member. Our group is extremely diverse – with members of all ages, and from all walks of life – and this is what makes it so special.