May’s meeting was a nerve-wracking one for me because it was the first time, as the Vice President of the Swallowtail WI, that I’d been asked to lead the meeting. Our President Claire was away so I took her place on the night we voted on whether to support this year’s proposed National Federation resolution, which is focused on Mental Health and what the WI can do to improve things for people suffering from conditions that fall under that umbrella.
In brief, this is what the NFWI are proposing:
Mental health matters
Mental health matters as much as physical health. The NFWI urges all WI members to recognise the importance of parity between mental health and physical health and take action to make it as acceptable to talk about mental health issues as much as physical health issues, and to lobby government for better support for mental illness.
The Swallowtails are a very enthusiastic and thoughtful bunch of ladies so there was a good debate about the resolution and ways we believe we could make a difference. Many of our members spoke about how mental illness has affected loved ones and there were questions about how we could support the resolution and provide tangible help to those in need.
After this discussion, we took time to think things over while doing some crafting. The Swallowtails will be submitting an entry into this year’s Norfolk Federation of WI’s crafting competition, and we wanted to make sure as many Swallowtails as possible have a hand in creating our mini masterpiece. It was great to hear the girls swapping serious thoughts on the resolution but also laughing and bonding over our crafting work.
Many of us expressed our thoughts about how WI is good for our mental health as it allows us to get together in a safe, kind environment and make new friendships. We wondered about providing a space for people to talk about their concerns and feelings at each meeting, wondering if we can ensure no Swallowtail ever feels alone when we are there to listen. The resolution has got us all thinking, so it was no surprise that we voted unanimously in favour of it. Now we’re looking forward to finding out what the NFWI thinks and discovering how our formidable membership can make a real difference in the mental health arena.
By Kate White, Vice President
There are some WI stereotypes that we're very happy to live up to - particularly those about crafting. Our girls love making things, and we even set up a Swallowtail Craft Club mini meeting to cater for our enthusiasm. So, it was wonderful to welcome talented seamstress and crafter Judith Quinton to our April meeting, where she gave us a guide to covering buttons and making beautiful purses.
Judith arrived ladened with lovely fabrics and patterns for us to get crafty with. She told us early on that this would be a very hands-on affair, and she spent the evening busily answering questions and giving us help as we enjoyed making our buttons and purses. Judith's love of crafting is infectious and, like us, she's very committed to the noble art of 'Make Do & Mend'. Better still, the Swallowtails were able to chat happily and share stories as we worked together and we'd even got a few newcomers in our midst, all of whom got a warm welcome and a good idea of what being a Swallowtail involves.
We also found time to get the Swallowtail book club together to discuss dystopian novel The Power by Naomi Alderman. This book has enjoyed huge publicity and the concept women seizing power in the world as they harness the power of electricity was fascinating. However, many of the readers in our book club felt that the concept was stronger than the story and that they wanted more from the plot itself. After such a good discussion, we decided to choose two books for the next book club session - Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman and Beauty Queens by Libba Bray.
From literature to crafting, you get it all at the Swallowtail WI. Want to join us? Get in touch!
Being part of a committee is never an easy thing. Even the mention of joining a committee has people studying their shoes, frantically searching for an excuse, sorry reason, why they can’t join. Committees often mean conflict, because a good committee has lots of people who are passionate about what they’re doing, have their own ideas and want to get involved. Great when you all agree, not so good when there’s a difference of opinion.
I don’t do well with conflict, so I was delighted that we had Milee Brambleby from Commonsense Services speak at our last Swallowtail WI meeting. Milee is an expert in conflict resolution and she helped us to identify our own style of conflict resolution with the use of animal cartoon characters, based on the work of Thomas and Kilman.
It turns out I’m an Accommodating Teddy Bear, I like to help everyone and I’m happy to put other people first. If you want something done, ask an Accommodating Teddy Bear, they’re likely to say yes. The problems come when we start to feel resentful and put upon, we have a tendency to snap and turn into Competing Sharks, determined to get what we want, no matter what.
Milee helped us see that conflict isn’t a bad thing, it’s a necessary part of life. Instead of shying away from conflict we should embrace the different techniques: become a Compromising Fox to negotiate deals, accepting you have to give and take, this is perfect when dealing with children. You can hide in your shell as an Avoiding Turtle when the argument isn’t worth the battle and a Collaborative Owl works to find a solution where everyone wins. There’s even a place for Accommodating Teddy Bears, we side step conflict and enjoy helping people, but at times it’s necessary for a Competing Shark to cut straight to the point, like when you’re making a complaint in a shop or restaurant.
There’s an appropriate time and place for each conflict style and I’ll be bringing out my Collaborative Owl and Compromising Fox at my next committee meeting.
Written by Claire Wade, Swallowtail WI President
One of the wonderful things about the WI is being able to invite people with different stories and lifestyles to educate us on their lives. This February, we were delighted to welcome Penny Franiel to talk to us about veganism and how to cook delicious vegan food.
Penny's talk was very insightful, particularly as she shared her own journey of becoming a vegan, running the Norwich Vegans group and how important veganism is to her life. It was fascinating to hear more about the wider discussion around veganism and how it's become a more mainstream dietary choice in current times, about Penny's love for animals and her experience will making and selling vegan cakes and bakes.
Of course, the Swallowtails had plenty of baking questions for Penny - who'd bought in some absolutely delicious treats for us to try. She gave us plenty of tips and advice about making vegan cakes, and some serious food for thought about the positive impact of veganism on the environment.
It was another fun, interesting evening full of lively discussion and great advice. We can't thank Penny enough for giving up her Tuesday evening to come and enlighten us!
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