The Women’s Institute tests the water in Jesmond tonight
The Women’s Institute (WI) has become a recognisable household name since its creation in 1915 and currently includes over 6,000 chapters. Tonight, Danielle Dunn hopes to add one more to the growing number by starting a chapter in Jesmond.
An exploratory meeting is taking place tonight at 7:30pm at St George’s Parish Church. The meeting will be a test of community interest: a sufficient number of members will need to join in order for the Jesmond chapter to qualify as a WI charity.
Dunn, a relatively recent addition to the community, served as President of the Tynemouth WI chapter for three years before moving to Jesmond a year ago. Her experiences with the Tynemouth chapter have inspired her to bring the WI to Jesmond.
“Most of the women I know are busy and working trying to juggle family life and careers as well as having some time for themselves. In setting up the WI in Tynemouth I wanted to create a community of women who would meet regularly, make new friends, have some social time, learn new things and share views and experiences of life, and at the same time integrate with a village life,” said Dunn.
Tales of Jam and Jerusalem are as old as the Institute itself, but the standard perception of the WI is one Dunn is keen to dissuade, if not entirely disavow.
“The Tynemouth WI are a light-hearted group of likeminded women who have become great friends who like to have a laugh and a giggle in the meetings,” she said. “We still have tradition at the forefront of our minds. The modern WI is a new generation of women developing new passions and skills, but has the same ethos as when it first began. I hope we can do the same in Jesmond!”
Dunn’s approach to member participation is to embrace the diversity of those who join by offering a wide range of activities. Her vision for the Jesmond chapter includes cooking lessons, guest talks from fashion gurus and life coaches, wine-tastings, dancing, knitting sessions, and jam-making classes.
The exploratory meeting will take place at St George’s Parish on January 20th at 7:30 pm. Dunn is eager to emphasise that the WI is open to people of varying interests and ages.
“There’s no such thing as a stereotypical WI member, anyone can join as long as they are over 18. We will be a young WI compared to the average but we plan to grow old together. We are very excited about the future of Jesmond WI.”