Whether you're a member or not you may have some questions, we hope that we've managed to cover your query in the information below, if not, then just contact us. Click on any question:
1. What do I get for my membership fee?
Membership fees are set by the National WI, from 1 April to 31st March, and for 2023 to 2024 the membership fee will be £46.00. As a member you can contribute and influence how it grows and what we can all learn, build and experience through it. Joining us entitles you to attend our meetings and sub-groups for one year. You can take part in activities, learn new crafts and skills, and practice old ones, teach others and hear interesting talks from speakers or partake in new and potentially unusual activities! You can be a part of the community of women in and around Holmfirth who are getting to know one another and build relationships. Many of our members are very busy women and have commented that they have found our meetings to be a safe-haven from having to do anything else for two hours. Each of our meetings involves a short business meeting followed by a speaker, who sometimes runs a workshop.
We also have extras like our sub-groups (book clubs, walking, cycling, fruit & veg, climate group, knitting & crochet, crafting group), and fund-raising. You will be able to log in to this website as a member and use the group forums for discussions with other members. We hope to have a presence at local festivals and we believe that possibly the most valuable part of the Holmfirth WI is friendship.
You also gain membership of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes and gain access to the WI Life magazine and newsletters. This wider WI membership allows us all to be a part of national WI campaigns to make a difference in society.
Holmfirth WI members also get discounts from some local businesses on showing your card, please see the discounts page of the website.
2. When and where do you meet?
We meet on the second Tuesday of the month from 7.30PM to 9.30PM, usually at the Holmfirth Civic Hall, Holmfirth. Please see the calendar page of this website for information about extra events, subgroups and specific dates, times and venues.
3. Why have you deleted “buy business advertisement” from your social media? Don’t you want to support the community?
Women’s Institutes are charities which can support other local charities for the area of that WI which meet their charitable objectives. While the Holmfirth Women’s Institute can be a great place for people to network as well as make friends and learn new skills, we cannot promote or advertise any business or other venture.
The Holmfirth WI and the NFWI do not view promoting your business as synonymous with our supporting the community. Local business groups exist which you can use to support the community in this way. If a local business makes a contribution or supports us we will thank them for this, but cannot go further for example in advertising sales and putting links up to websites.
Many women find the WI a helpful place to feel that they can have a good experience without being bombarded with advertisements. There are many avenues for advertising your business in the Holme Valley, including online. Although it can be tempting, the Holmfirth WI is not a free platform to advertise to a captive audience. We can support certain local charities but not businesses. As a charity we must be mindful of our charitable objectives and not attempt to take advantage of the WI and the membership fees paid by all of us to gain free advertising.
While the Holmfirth WI encourages its members to shop locally in general, we can’t specifically put adverts out to our members for your particular business. We can accept a discount for members if you wish to offer one, and if you have something related to your business, your skills or the town to offer as a talk/workshop, please do let us know. Please see the ‘contact us’ or ‘meet the committee’ page of the website.
Please see the NFWI Constitution for further information regarding our charitable objectives. The NFWI states that these are:
“To enable women who are interested in issues associated with rural life, including arts, crafts and sciences, to improve and develop conditions of rural life, to advance their education in citizenship, in public questions both national and international, in music, drama and other cultural subjects and in all branches of agriculture, handicrafts, home economics, health and social welfare. It seeks to give women the opportunity of working together through the Women’s Institute organisation and of putting into practice those ideals for which it stands.”
We hope that if you hope to use the Holmfirth WI to network, you feel able to do this by chatting with like-minded people at our meetings, and we hope that local business owners know that we wish them well. We appreciate that it is hard to run a business or start your own venture and we can understand how tempting it might be to see a large number of local women and think of the money they could bring you, especially when all it would take would be a few lines of text and the click of a button. Many women in the Holmfirth WI also have businesses, other ventures and hectic work and home lives and find it useful to switch-off from work mode at meetings. We hope that you can understand and share our charitable objectives too.
4. I can’t believe that you won’t allow men to join, that’s illegal. I’m a man, why can’t I join?!
While we appreciate that it can feel a bit like the girls are sitting in their tent with the ‘No Boys Allowed’ sign up, men cannot join the Women’s Institute as members. They can be supporters of the WI, and can be involved by being speakers and workshop runners at meetings. The National Women’s Institute state that:
‘The Women’s Institute is an educational charity with a constitution that states membership is only open to women. Under UK law charitable organisations whose constitution stipulates single sex membership are entitled to restrict access to the opposite sex.’
They also state that: ‘The Constitution and Rules are very specific and rule 9 states: “Membership of the WI is open to women. They may join by paying the required annual subscription…”’
The Holmfirth WI also do regular walks to which members are invited to bring their families, including children and men. This is never something we spend membership fees on, and is a way for people to get to know each other. Men joining the WI could happen if it is ever voted in by members on a national scale and the NFWI changes its constitution.
5. I’m a trans woman, can I still join?
If you gender-identify as a woman you can join us and expect our full support. Members who cannot tolerate being part of a group that accepts all women are free to leave. We have yet to come across any such members!
6. I would like for you to break a constitutional rule because I want to be able to do that thing.
The Holmfirth WI enjoy existing as a Women’s Institute and have no plans to close as such. We will not break constitutional rules to please individual members. This feels quite unethical and would likely result in us not being able to function as a WI. It has also been suggested that we exist as a non-WI women’s group in order to break the constitution. This seems quite self-defeating as we would not benefit from the wonderful support of the NFWI, or the positive influence on society, healthy reputation, and protections this involves.
The NFWI work almost as a parent organisation, providing support to federations and WIs. It has an organisational structure which allows individuals in WIs to take their ideas forward and grow them to a national level, and instigate change in society with WI campaigns. The Women’s Institute is about educating and bringing women together in an inclusive, non-sectarian, non-political way. It is about helping communities to come together and be bound by sharing, contribution and experience.
The constitution is restrictive because it needs to be in order for us all to have the security needed to make sure that the WI stays focused on its charitable objectives, and can run smoothly. For example, our public liability insurance is bought through the NFU which is made possible by the NFWI. The constitution is subject to change, and change starts with communication of ideas. If you would like for something constitutional to change, let’s discuss this together as a WI and work out whether anybody else is pushing for this change and whether we need to take it forward.
7. I dislike a decision voted in by members. I want you to overturn it because you are the president/treasurer/secretary etc.
Please do vote for what you actually want to vote for in meetings in which votes take place and please do raise any issues relevant to the meeting in Any Other Business. We know that for some people this is easier said than done.
Decisions are made via democratic process and by the committee. It can be hard to speak your mind openly, especially if you are aware that you may be saying something controversial. It can also be hard if your friend is voting for something you don’t like to still vote for what you would like. It is still important that if you want to be heard, you speak, vote, or communicate to the group in some way.
By being an open and non-judgmental group we can try to make this as easy as possible for one another, and to support one another by listening. Individual canvassing of committee members can be replaced by raising your concerns to the group as a whole or to be passed on to the committee as a whole. We need to work together as a group and sometimes this can be difficult because not everybody always gets exactly what they want. We can still try to reach decisions together and allow everyone’s voice to be heard.
8. I don’t think I’ll know anybody who goes to the meetings but I’d like to join, I’m worried about just sitting there on my own!
It can be a very scary thing to put yourself out there and to approach new people, especially when they make up a big group. It can also end up being something you’re glad you did, and can be very rewarding. We believe and hope that this is the case with joining the Holmfirth WI. We have designated committee members to identify new members and make them welcome and as often as possible the president will welcome new members at the meetings.
Holmfirth WI is built on values of friendship, being inclusive, not exclusive, leaving politics (local or otherwise) at the door, learning together, being non-judgmental and understanding of one another and building relationships to feel like a real, close community and most importantly for us to have fun together!
We accept our differences and don’t try to change one another. Many women have come to meetings without having known anybody and have been welcomed by the group and become a part of it. We are all still getting to know one another as we are such a big group, and we have been placing an emphasis on activities that involve sharing and talking with others in our meetings. We find that this helps.
Also having things to do together throughout the meetings can help people to mix with one another, whether that’s listening to a speaker, learning how to do something new, doing an activity together or just chatting over some tea and cake. We hope that you do take that step to join us, you will be very welcome.
9. Do you have any paid positions available (I attach my CV, etc)?
It is certainly a difficult time for people struggling to find employment. Unfortunately, as the Holmfirth WI is a charity run by members who are volunteers we cannot employ you. Nevertheless joining a WI might be good for your CV (as well as your skills, social life, and impact on the community), especially if you are not currently demonstrating any involvement in hobbies, activities or volunteering. Additionally if you have a skill you could share with us at a meeting or a workshop you would like to run, please let us know so that we can add you to our speakers list for members to vote in for the next year.