If you think the WI is just tea, cake and polite small talk, you haven’t sat through a resolutions meeting. You can expect a passionate debate.
The resolutions raise issues that are important to WI members and if voted in, the power of the WI is unleashed to bring about change for the better.
Last year we focused on the resolution “mental health matters as much as physical health”. This year we had two to consider.
“Call against the decline in rural bus services” focuses on the fact that over the last decade there has been a massive decline in the number of bus services. The WI has focused on alleviating loneliness and improving health and wellbeing, so the bus campaign is a natural extension. The resolution raised a lot of debate within my WI as to how we could meet the proposed objective. We agreed there needs to be a better partnership between the bus companies and community transport operators, but there was differing opinions on how this could be achieved.
The second resolution, “Don't Fear the Smear”, aims to encourage people to attend routine screening. We learnt that cervical screening saves around 5,000 lives a year, yet attendance is currently at its lowest for a decade.
The Swallowtail members debated that lots is already being done to raise awareness, from posters to media campaigns. We discussed the barriers people face in getting screened, from embarrassment and fear, to physically being able to get to an appointment.
A member told us about iCASH Norfolk, the modern version of a Family Planning clinic. Most of us had no idea of this service, so we realised that there are ways we could implement the resolution, just by making people aware of pre-existing services available across the county.
The discussion brought out lots of strong opinions, but this is what makes the WI so successful in its campaigns. The members truly care and when we get behind an issue, we’re determined to bring about change. If the resolutions pass, I’m sure this year we’ll do just that.
Mental health matters as much as physical health, that’s the resolution WIs across the UK have been supporting over the past year. Everyone knows what to do for good physical health: eat a balanced diet, drink water and do regular exercise.
What about good mental health? Much less attention is paid to this, but with soaring numbers of people suffering with anxiety and depression, it’s important we start to pay attention.
The WI resolution called on members to take action to make it as acceptable to talk about mental health issues as much as physical health issues. Swallowtail WI organised a “Mental Health Myth Buster” evening, led by Szara Froud, an assistant practitioner and Danielle Sands, a mental health nurse from Reach For the Stars. Our aim was to encourage open discussion and dispel the stigmas around mental health.
Members agreed that it’s easy for life to get on top of you, almost without you noticing. If you’re struggling and overwhelmed, you often don’t know what to do to make it stop. During the evening we learnt some simple ways to help ourselves.
First, you have to acknowledge how you’re feeling. Are you stressed? Anxious? Overwhelmed? We have a tendency to disconnect to our emotions, so checking in helps you notice what’s going on. You might not be able to solve the problem, but there are things you can do to improve how you’re feeling.
Talking to someone is important, as it gives you a chance to vent and gain perspective.
It’s also essential to find ways to relax. Distracting yourself, if only for a while, can help you feel more able to cope. Members shared their favourite ways to de-stress. These included reading, crafting, baking, meditation apps and going outside for a run or walk, or just to look up at the sky.
When life is busy, relaxation is often the first thing we let slip, but it’s essential to make time to have fun.
The resolution has helped Swallowtail WI learn to take care of our mental health. I hope the next resolutions will have an equally positive impact.
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