Business is booming for a new Womens group in South Tyneside.
Sisters of Shields Womens Institute have proved a force to be reckoned with since it was launched in the town five months ago.
Since announcing the opening of the new group, founder and president Jayne Rudd has been inundated with new members.
The Sisters are now more than 50 strong with more new members coming every month.
The group says that anyone who thought the WI was all about tea cakes and knitting should think again.
This year’s calendar reads like a cross between an army training programme and a university freshers week - with planned classes in burlesque, car maintenance and self defence,
Secretary Karen English said: “We have such a broad range of activities booked in.
“We have Polly Rocket coming to give us an introduction to burlesque in February, a celebration of strong local women for International Womens Day in March, vintage dancing and singing lessons.
“We are also looking forward to The Customs House executive director, Ray Spencer MBE’ coming to regale us with some tales from his career when he visits in May. we are in talks with department stores, hula hoop teachers and a range of activists and local volunteers.”
Jayne added: “I guess some would call us a ‘new wave’ WI’ but really the WI has one aim, to inspire women.
“I believe that’s exactly what we are doing, just last month our ladies donated 57 handbags filled with toiletries, snacks, warm clothes and feminine essentials, to a charity helping homeless women North East.
“We’ve also donated more than 500 items to local food banks and delivered donations to the local womens refuge and the Key Project.
“We’ve done all that in under six moths since we opened in August.”
She added: “I’ve been inspired and overwhelmed with the help and kindness of our members.
“It just goes to show that women together can make things happen and we will keep reaching out to help our community over the coming months.”
Sisters of Shields WI runs on the first Wednesday of every month at Westoe Crown Community Hub from 7.15pm to 9.15pm.
Membership is open to any woman aged 18 or over and with members ages ranging from 20 to 89.