News about and from your federation WI Adviser team.

PLEASE NOTE: The Charities Act 2011 requires registered charities with an income above £10,000 a year to state they are a registered charity on a range of documents including on their website, advertisements and other documents such as receipts. This requirement extends to any notices, advertisement or documents used to fundraise.

MAT Myth Busting

We have been running a series of Myth Busting articles in Essex WI News and we’ve gathered them all here in one place for your reference.  If you know of any other myths about the WI that you think should be “busted” then please do let us know.

True or false?
The WI Treasurer is responsible for the money held in the WI account?
False – The committee and members are responsible for ensuring any monies held by a WI are spent according to the objects of the WI constitution. The Committee as Trustees should oversee any spending for the running of a WI, consulting the members about any large purchases such as a projector, speaker system etc. The Treasurer should give the committee an update on finances at each committee meeting, the President should sign each bank statement. The Treasurer usually gives a brief update to members at a monthly meeting.

All the WI Officers can share their roles?
False – As per the constitution the same person can combine the Secretary and Treasurer roles and the Treasurer and Vice President roles only. This must be agreed by the Federation Board of Trustees and should only be seen as a short-term solution.

A quorum is needed at a WI Annual Meeting?
False – The WI constitution does not require a quorum of members to nominate or vote at an Annual Meeting.

A WI cannot meet in a pub?
False – Several WIs meet in pubs or clubs, in fact the first WI in England met in a pub in East Sussex. A WI can meet in any venue that is accessible for their members and by meeting in the local pub can often be supporting that business with members purchasing refreshments.

If a WI suspends the Federation gets any money that WI holds?
True – But not straight away. The money is held in a suspension fund for three years. If within that three years another WI forms in the same area as the suspended WI, the new WI will receive any monies held to help them start up. After three years NFWI officially close the suspended WI at this point any monies go to the Federation to be used to help start new WIs in any area.

A WI bye-law remains in place forever?
False – Any bye-laws a WI have in place should be renewed at their Annual Meeting each year, the bye-law should be read out and those members eligible to vote for its continuation or not should do so at that time, failure to do this means the bye-law is no longer valid. A bye-law can also be revoked at any time should the reason for the bye-law change.

A dual member can only be on the committee of their main WI?
False – A WI can, with the agreement of the Board of Trustees, put a bye-law in place stating that a dual member can be on its committee and hold an officer role.

A bye-law can be put in place to limit the number of a WI committee?
True – As well as the above reasons a bye-law can also be put in place for the President’s term of office. A WI does not need a bye-law regarding the day, time, place of their monthly meetings, this would have been decided at formation or subsequently with a member’s vote should there have been a need to change venue, meeting time etc. There is also no need to renew bye-laws that have become defunct such as the WI choir should wear green tops when there is no longer a choir at that WI.

A new member cannot go on a WI committee?
False – There is no term of membership required before a member joins a WI committee. How would a new WI be formed if those joining it were required to be members for a set time?. A new member may be able to help save a WI from suspension by joining the committee. There is also no term of membership before a member can become an officer.

Here are some more myths relating specifically to Annual Meetings.

True or False?

If a byelaw was agreed in a WIs dim and distant past it is in place forever?
False – For a byelaw to continue to be in place it must be read out and voted on at every following Annual Meeting. Just missing one year means the byelaw is void.

A dual member can only vote at the Annual Meeting of her main WI?
False – a dual member is entitled to vote on any matters of a WI she is a member of including the Annual Meeting. She votes on NFWI and Federation matters at her main WI not those she is a dual member of. 2021 WI Constitution 15 (b).

An Annual Meeting is illegal if a WI Adviser is not present?
False – A WI Adviser does not need to oversee an Annual Meeting. A President from a local WI can attend. Or this Federation offers a MAT Helper, WI Trainee or Trustee.

Only members who have paid the subscription for the current year can vote at an Annual Meeting?
True – Also the committee and President must be fully paid-up members.

The WIs Financial Statement must be proposed, seconded and adopted?
True – generally the Treasurer will propose the adoption, this will be seconded by a member and adopted by the membership. The Treasurer will also propose the Independent Financial examiner for the following years Financial Statement, to be agreed by the membership.

#TeamEssexFed Your Federation Needs You

Have you some time to spare? Are you motivated by helping others? Can you work in a team as well as on your own?

Then training as a WI Adviser could be for you, please contact for more information

Screen Shot 2017-08-18 at 16.04.53


MAT’ stands for Membership Advisory Team

This committee consists of:


MAT Helpers

All of whom are volunteers and are here to promote Fun, Friendship & Education within the WI

WI Advisers are members who have taken on special training to learn everything WI through the National Federation of WIs.

WI Advisers are here to:
support WIs and groups within their Federation;
open new WIs and give support and encouragement during early months
and, sadly, when necessary, take a WI through the formality of suspension.

WI Advisers enjoy visiting WIs socially and meeting the members, when invited, and they are a contact between the WIs and the Federation.

MAT Helpers are members who have volunteered to help when necessary, mainly at Annual Meetings or to support a WI Adviser during the processes when forming a new WI or a WI suspension.

Forums are held occasionally by NFWI and Federations to keep everyone updated with new information.

WI Advisers have a lot of fun. 
If you feel you would like to become an Adviser,
then please contact WI Centre to let us know, and you will be invited to observe at a Members Advisory Team meeting.



Committee Meetings can be busy times but do try to build into your time after these meetings for that all important cup of tea, cake and natter.  Try and get the business done smoothly and quickly so that cake can be enjoyed.

One good tip is prior to the Committee Meeting the President and Secretary meet to put together the Committee Agenda and draft the main meeting agenda.  This will help the Committee meeting run smoothly and ensure nothing is missed.  The agenda can then be sent out to the rest of the Committee so they can see what they will be working on.

How often does your Committee have a social get together?  These can take the form of a lunch or something you all fancy doing.  It is good to relax together, and many long-term friendships and strong teams develop from these times. It is good for a Committee to be organised and work as a team, so if there is a problem anyone can step into the space, and everything continues to run smoothly.


Although formal Groups no longer exist in Essex, you are welcome to organise a joint meeting with local WIs. Check the WI Groups page for more information about how to get in touch with WIs near you.

Would you like a joint meeting to be in the same format as your old Group meetings or is it time to do something different?  Perhaps a Ball, a magic evening, garden party, a fete, fashion show, an outing, a river cruise? There are so many possibilities. Maybe change the month or time of the meeting to give you more flexibility.  Have fun exploring the options and putting together a lovely event for your local WIs.


How to tell people about your WI?  These days there are many methods of communication, and many are very good at telling people who we are and what we do.

Posters and notices are good, but there are other ways too.  Does your WI have a website?  Have you got a Facebook page?  And what about X/Twitter, Instagram and other social media apps?  These effective tools can be used to advertise and help people find out what is going on in their community. 

You may have a member in your WI who is able to help you set up and manage these tools to help promote all the lovely things you do in your WI.  If you require help, Federation has an excellent Digital Team available to you, so please ask and you can start your journey into this new world and hopefully you will have new members coming along to your WI.


Many of our WI’s operate with a small Committee and the members of the Committee often find they are very busy at the meeting. Non-Committee members can help with many of these jobs.

Most members can sell raffle tickets, or look after the sales table, or make the teas, wash up cups, tick off people on the register as they come in.  These are just some of the jobs which many members could do and it will help everyone to get to know each other and feel a big part of your WI so when a Committee member asks you to help, please say YES.


During the pandemic we had a greater reliance on electronic communications, and this has been a wonderful way for us all to keep in touch and pass on information.

Our Secretaries have been excellent and have worked very hard to ensure that their members get all the information that has been sent out and we thank them for doing that.

At a recent drop-In session with our Presidents and Secretaries we heard that they are not sure if all the information that they send out to members is received or read so please may we ask you to occasionally let your WI Secretary know you have received their email, a quick email to say received would be all that is required.   They like to know you are keeping up to date with the news.


It has come to our notice that there is some confusion within some WIs regarding Dual members.

Dual members only pay the WI portion of the subs and are therefore entitled to take part and vote on all matters within the WI they have joined as a dual. Dual members can only vote on National, and Federation matters at their main WI, where they pay the full subscription.

Activity Ideas during Lockdown

Ideas for Activities to help maintain contact with your Members

This list has been compiled by one of our WI Advisers, Lindsey Peters, who was assisted by Jo Saby, and some of her WIs.


Hold a ‘Find Out More About Your Local WI’ Zoom.  Set a date and time and publicise on your local social media or bulletin board, or in your local newspaper or bulletin – basically whatever your area offers to spread the word. Harold Wood Evening WI did a few minutes of WI history and then lots about what they do; the sub-groups, the community work etc. The aim was to get those ladies to join by the end of the Zoom.

Notify your members of other Zoom meetings available. Other WIs open meetings, Federation events, WI Wanderers.

For Non Zoomers

Split your members between your committee so you are all calling roughly the same number of ladies each and give each member a regular call to see how they are. This can be via letters or phone calls.

Monthly Newsletter

You could ask for volunteers within your WI to write it, or if you have someone happy to write it each month then great. Only ladies without an email get a paper copy and maybe print in black and white if it saves on ink. Keep it short and sweet. Perhaps some of your digital users could share their experiences with non-digital members.

Pen Pals

There is nothing like receiving a letter, especially this year. Set up a Pen Pal group. You just need some members who would like to write a letter now and then. Pair members up preferably with members who do not know each other well so new friendships can be formed. We can help if you would like to pen pal with a member of another WI.


Put members together. Buddies can support each other in terms of company and companionship. Also, once more contact is permitted, they can share access to virtual events.

Craft Activities

Notify members of local requirements for things your members could craft:

  • Knitted hearts
  • Make a craft bag for your members
  • Make bunting to celebrate returning to meetings

Interest Groups

Some WIs have put members together who have a special interest e.g. photography, painting, local history, book clubs, gardening groups, exercise, and walking. Federation could help with this via social media.

Investigate the history of your local area. Perhaps this could be a meeting when we meet up again.

Hold your own Sewing Bee or Master Chef virtually or photograph your achievements.

‘Thinking of You’ gift

Does not have to cost much. One FEWI member hand drew and cut out Hugs. She drew on paper something that had long arms and hands and wrote in the middle ‘Sending you a Hug from ______ WI’. Another member knitted each member a little Christmas pudding that sits over a chocolate. The WI paid for the chocolates, and the member said she had spare wool so did not charge for the puddings. All of these little things show the members we are thinking of them and we care.

Meeting in a Bag

Again does not have to be expensive. If you are Zoomers, match the bag to the meeting (e.g. pamper evening). For non Zoomers, the contents of the bag should link to a WI objective. Could be quizzes, puzzles, seeds, recipes etc.

Jigsaw/Book Swap

If you have members who like Jigsaw puzzles or reading, on the regular member phone calls find out if anyone would like to borrow or lend and put them in touch with each other.

Community Activities

  • Handbag with toiletries for local refuge
  • Donations for foodbank
  • Start planning how you will tackle Resolutions and Climate issues
  • Support a local hospice
  • What can your members produce that might help?

Special Events

Hold a one off challenge. New City Girls WI celebrated a recent WI anniversary by covering the distance between Chelmsford and Canada. They totalled the distance their members exercised whether walking, swimming, running, hoovering…whatever!

This list is not exhaustive and if your WI has some suggestions please send them in so that they can be added to this list and shared with your WI colleagues. Please email your suggestions

Archived Memos Section

June 2019 Members Monthly Memo

Thank you to all WIs for making the Federations WI Advisers, Membership Helpers & Trustees welcome at your Annual Meetings.

Places on Training workshops are still available, but going quickly, so book NOW.

The London WIs within Essex Federation have now been placed into the newly formed Sylvia Pankhurst Group. This name truly reflects the spirit of these WIs and the Communities they serve.

We sadly suspended Home Farm recently but hopefully these ladies will be continuing their WI journey in another local WI.

January 2019 Members’ Monthly Memo

Happy new year to all our members from the Members Advisory Committee here at Essex Federation!

Please book WI Advisers for your Annual meeting and places on training days early to avoid disappointment.

The Waltham Abbey Warriors have recently changed their name to the Waltham Abbey Iceni Sisters.

Sadly, we have recently suspended 3 WIs in Essex – Boreham WI, Ergeleda WI and Upminster & Cranham WI. We hope these ladies will continue their WI journeys in other WIs close to them.

Members Monthly Memo – November 2018

November is MCS month – can all WIs please ensure that they have a dedicated MCS Reps to maintain your database with National and maybe use the month to undertake a bit of housekeeping on your system!

Members Monthly Memo – October 2018

If you require an Adviser at your 2019 Annual Meeting, book now to avoid disappointment. Advisers diaries are already filling up!

Please note – WIs cannot make charitable donations using WI funds to local branches of National Charities.

Also note – WI funds can be used to provide “reasonable levels” of refreshment at a WI meeting. This will depend on what the WI Committee (Trustees) feel is reasonable and within the scope of the WI’s funds.

The 2019 Members Advisory Committee dates will be published soon. If any member would like to observe at this Committee and learn more about the role of WI Adviser please contact the Federation office

Members Monthly Memo – April 2018

A big “Hello” to our new WI in Essex, Baddow Bees WI. We wish them well! A sad farewell to Stondon Massey WI, who suspended in February. Recent advice from the Charity Commission suggests that for those WIs who are CC registered and complete their returns online, all WI Trustees should hold the password to their WIs CC online site not just the Treasurer. I hope all Annual Meetings are running smoothly – please do speak to your allocated Adviser, or the WI Office, if you experience any problems. Best wishes, Jane B.

Members Monthly Memo – March 2018

If you still have not booked a WI Adviser for your Annual Meeting and you would like one, please contact the Federation office to secure a booking. If you have any queries about running your WI or about National issues please contact your WI Adviser or the Federation Office who will be able to give you a quick answer. We have recently said a sad farewell to Loughton WI and White Notley & Faulkbourne WI, Broomfield afternoon WI, Manor House(Laindon)WI and Engains WI who have all suspended.

Time To Say Goodbye!

WI Adviser, Liz Buxton

Sadly, the Autumn County Meeting was the time for us to announce a resignation from our wonderful WI Adviser team. This was long standing WI Adviser, Liz Buxton. We shall be extremely sad to see her go as she has put in enormous amounts of work in supporting many of our WIs over many years. We are sure that many of you will have very fond and fun memories of your times with Liz and are as appreciative of all of her efforts as we are at FEWI.