Are you enjoying being a WI member but haven’t found what you want on this website? Or maybe you went to the AGM at Trinity Park and wondered how those people on the platform got there and what they do. This may tell you a bit more.
I’ve joined my local WI and it’s great, but the Federation and something called “National” are often mentioned—what are they?
All WIs belong to the National Federation of WIs (NFWI or National) for short and every WI belongs to a federation – roughly equal to a county. We are the Suffolk East Federation of WIs (SEFWI). NFWI concentrate on those matters which affect all WIs such as the campaign work and compliance and SEFWI provide services to our members locally.
So who runs NFWI and SEFWI?
Both are run by teams of elected WI members helped by some paid staff. As NFWI and SEFWI are charities, this elected team are trustees and collectively known as the Board of Trustees. They are not paid but get expenses for travelling to meetings and so on. We also have a team of trained volunteer Advisers, who are more concerned with helping individual WIs.
Federations always have a paid Federation Secretary but the number of other staff depends on the size of the federation – we have a part time accounts clerk; two part time office staff and a cleaner in addition to the Federation Secretary. The staff are employees of the Federation and it is one of the Trustees’ responsibilities to correctly adhere to all relevant employment rules and regulations.
Who leads this Board of Trustees? How do they decide what to do?
The trustees elect a Chairperson and they discuss and decide what services to offer members; training, perhaps, or social activities, outings and so on. All services and activities must comply with the aims and objectives of the WI organisation, in accordance with the governing Constitution.
Sounds a very responsible job. Not for me, then.
On the contrary. You’re obviously interested in what goes on and that’s the most important thing. Everyone has something to offer, even if they don’t know it, and there is training for the role, which is done online via Zoom.
We know it can be daunting starting something new – we’ve all done it! – so every effort will be made to settle you in and give you the information you need. For the first year you will be “buddied” up with another trustee who will help you and be available to explain things and answer your questions.
How much time would I have to commit?
Trustees meet every month except August but also have two joint meetings with the Advisers and two or three other meetings for policy and event planning. No Trustee is expected to attend every meeting and some are now held via Zoom. You really can help and we think you’ll enjoy it.
Hm, I’m still not sure.
A good way of dipping your toe in the water is to join a sub-committee. These are small groups, led by one of the trustees, who arrange the events and workshops for WI members which you have seen advertised in SEFWI News or on the website. If there’s something you’d really like to see happening in the federation, this is your way to do it! Sub Committees usually meet no more than five times a year and are very informal. Of course, if a sub committee arranges an event some of its members will need to be there and they plan that amongst themselves.
Well, maybe. What should I do next?
Contact Gill, our federation secretary, by email ([email protected]) or phone (01473 251632) or speak to any of the trustees or advisers you meet at an event. We look forward to meeting you!