Rent holiday helps keep Women's Institute branch 'alive and kicking'
Members of a Women’s Institute branch say the group is ‘alive and kicking’ with big plans for the future and a drive to attract new members, despite the pandemic.
WI activities across the world have been severely curtailed by coronavirus. The organisation has a very strong social element and members are looking forward to the end of lockdown.
However, in South Tyneside they have still been going strong and managed to keep a variety of virtual activities going.
In “normal” times meetings of the WI are held at Perth Green Community Centre on the Scotch Estate. The trustees of the centre have helped the institute and encouraged community spirit by allowing a "rent holiday”.
The WI said: “Perth Green board of trustees have given us a rent holiday for this quarter and we are very grateful to them. Like us they are not open and are not generating any income, but they have waived the next quarter’s rent. So thank you to Perth Green. We do appreciate it.”
There are 25 WIs across South Tyneside, Sunderland and Gateshead. Usually they meet monthly for talks, demonstrations, excursions, meals, theatre and a many other social events, in addition to supporting local charities like food banks and women’s refuges.
Since March 2020 members have met on Zoom, enjoying talks and presentations on various topics including Kielder Observatory, sex and secrets of the 16th century court, the life of a drag artiste, vegetarian cookery, crafts and more.
Margaret Carter, chair of the Tyne and Wear South Federation, said: “Via Zoom the WIs have been able to engage in their usual activities of wine clubs, book groups and meeting just for a social chat.
"In between lockdown and the rule of six, members were able to meet for walks and even had a couple of picnics.
“Obviously we are all looking forward to the day when we can meet face to face. But in the meantime we are doing what we can to make the best of things.
"But when we can meet, standby for the biggest party!”
The federation’s next Zoom event is on Thursday, February 25 at 7pm, The Lives and Loves of a Taxi Driver by James Haddow, which “promises to be very entertaining and a good spirit lifter”.
For more information, visit tyne-and-wear-south.thewi.org.uk.