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.
Now that spring has sprung, have you been out in your garden and heard the distinctive huffing and puffing of a hodmedod? No? Are you sure? A hodmedod isn’t a new species invading England, it’s the Norfolk word for hedgehog.
Hodmedod's Hedgehog Support came to Swallowtail WI to give us a talk on how we can help these prickly visitors. There has been a massive decline in numbers over the past seventy years. There were 30 million hedgehogs in the UK and that’s dropped to less than a million. Hodmedod's Hedgehog Support wants to encourage people to create hedgehog friendly gardens and they taught us what we needed to do to make our gardens more accessible.
Hedgehogs travel between one and two miles a night, so it’s important to create wildlife corridors to help them get around the county and avoid the busy roads. The best way to do this it to cut 13 cm holes at the bottom of your fences.
Hedgehogs also need plenty of food and drink, but the days of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle enjoying bread and milk are long gone, it sadly gives her tummy ache. Instead, you can leave out wet dog or cat food (not fish-based) or you can buy specialist hedgehog food. Water is also essential. The heat wave last summer caused many hedgehogs to die from dehydration, so make sure you have a shallow bowl of plain, fresh water for them to drink.
If you can entice hedgehogs into your garden, you’ll find they’ll earn their keep. They love eating slugs, caterpillars and beetles and eat at least 100 invertebrates a night. This will help your plants flourish, so it’s win-win. If on the other hand gardening isn’t your thing, hedgehogs provide the perfect excuse not to mow the grass, because it provides them with shelter and a pile of abandoned logs or compost head is great for hibernation.
Hedgehogs are a classic part of an English garden and it would be a tragedy if they died out. Swallowtail WI are going to do all we can to help them thrive once again.
Body confidence sounds like a buzzword, the latest trend to get people to join a gym or start a new diet. Fortunately, there’s a deeper meaning behind the term and Swallowtail WI invited social enterprise SoulShine along to talk to us about the growing body positive movement. Amy Woods and Robyn Caston set up SoulShine to encourage people to transform their relationship with food and their bodies. They want everyone to shift from a place of struggle, guilt, anger and shame to one of nourishment, pleasure and love.
It’s easy to believe there’s only one desired body shape and size, a perfect number we can all diet our way down to if we just try hard enough. The reality is that women are meant to be individual and unique, and as long as you’re healthy then the numbers don’t matter. The great part of a WI meeting is seeing so many different women all together and realising that you’re more normal than you thought.
Amy and Robyn got us talking about the way we view our bodies, how often we take them for granted and the harsh judgements we hold towards ourselves. Often the negative self-talk that runs through our heads is based on opinions that aren’t our own. They encouraged us to re-examine what we really thought about ourselves and what we wanted from our bodies and our lives. I came away appreciating how much my body does for me, how normal I am and how proud I should be in who I am and what I can do.
Amy says “Our aim is to empower and provide the self-care tools, techniques and methods for people to embrace all aspects of themselves, to awaken the wisdom they carry within that enables them to nourish and take care of themselves in a way that allows them to flourish into the incredible beings that they are.”
SoulShine offers individual coaching sessions, workshops, courses and retreats which support self-discovery and personal growth empowering people to prosper in their personal, professional and community lives. For more information visit soul-shine.org.uk
A chilly November night brought big changes to the Swallowtail WI as we voted in the committee and welcomed new people into the roles of President, Treasurer and Secretary.
Our founding president Clare gave a wonderful speech about the past year for our WI, before we voted in Kate as our next president. She'll be joined by Roz in the role of treasurer - taking over from the wonderful Vicki - and Kate B as our secretary following lovely Rachel's stint.
Here is Claire's speech in full:
Presidents Speech 2018
We’ve had a fantastic year and as ever the Swallowtail Committee have been incredible. They work so hard behind the scenes and I’m truly grateful for all they do.
Vicki has done three years as treasurer and we couldn’t have managed without her. No matter how self-deprecating she is about her abilities, she’s kept our finances in order, taken Barclays to task and made sure we have a very healthy bank balance.
Rachel has brought an incredible amount of creativity to the Swallowtails as both secretary and craft club organiser. She led the way with our Norfolk Show entry and created a gorgeous Ferris wheel. We’re sad she’s stepping down, but hope to see her at meetings next year.
It’s been great to have Kate W as my Vice President, she’s supported me throughout the year and it’s been fun to share the work and responsibilities.
Kate B has been a champion and stepped into the breach on more than one occasion. She’s stepping up to be secretary this year and I know the job is in very capable hands.
Szara has kept us busy with lots of fun and fabulous events, from organising the annual quiz and our Quingo this week, to the seal and swallowtail trips. It’s a lot of fun to meet up outside of WI and get to know members in a different setting.
Kim is responsible for the beautiful birthday cards members receive, her cards are gorgeous and bring a special, personal touch. She’s also kept our tablecloth updated and made our delicious third birthday cake.
Jody has maintained the snack rota and made sure we all have tasty treats at each meeting; we thought we were losing her but we’re pleased that she’s not leaving us just yet.
Sophie joined the committee this year and is already invaluable and looking to take on a bigger role. She introduced our latest mini-meet, our Brunch Club. It’s been great to meet up at some amazing cafes for some delicious breakfasts.
Roz also joined us this year, and like an answer to a prayer, she knows all about accounting and will be taking over from Vicki. Roz made sure our latest accounts were in order before our audit and I know she’s going to do a fantastic job.
Roisin is our long distance committee member, we might not have seen her at meetings, and we’ve missed her lot, but we know she’s representing the Swallowtails down in London with the Shoreditch Sisters.
Kerry runs our lively book club and has just joined the committee. She’s taking on the role of Public Affairs Liaison and will be keeping us up to date with all the campaigns.
A big thank you to all the Swallowtails who aren’t on the committee but make a hugely valuable contribution to our WI.
Jenny’s been our Public Affairs Liaison for the past few years, she’s made sure we’re informed and represented at Federation events.
Anita, aka my mum, aka Claire’s mum, has looked after the kitchen for the past three years.
Sarah has transformed our Twitter account and made it so interesting and engaging with her live tweets of the meeting.
Jenny has kept our Instagram beautiful.
Margaret took over the dog walking group.
Debbie made our beautiful bunting triangle.
Anne sells the second hand books for us.
Rosemary set up our trade table.
Thank you also to Dave, Matt and the other husbands and partners who support us.
Finally, I’d like to say thank you to you the members, for being part of the Swallowtails and making it such a welcoming and friendly WI. Thank you for showing up, getting involved, donating to the causes we support, coming to our events and just generally being lovely people. I’m sad I won’t be president anymore but I look forward to seeing how the committee and Swallowtail WI develop and grow over the next year.
If you want to know how to rock a vintage look like a pro, there’s only one lady to ask – The Fabulous Miss K. With years of experience in the fashion industry, Karen James-Welton is the expert on vintage fashion and we were excited to invite her to our October meeting.
Karen arrived with lots of clothes and accessories to show us, demonstrating some of the ways she wears vintage in her every day life. As somebody often pictured in head-to-toe vintage, Karen was keen to explain that you don’t have to worry about going to all that effort in your day-to-day outfits, but merely to mix some vintage pieces in with your modern garments too.
As it happened, Karen delivered her talk just after a fascinating documentary about fast fashion by Stacey Dooley had been screened. Our current consumption of fast fashion is bad for the environment and has a myriad of ethical consequences too. Karen talked passionately about how choosing to buy vintage is a great way to do your bit for the planet and save money while you do it. If that wasn’t enough to have us scrambling to the second hand clothes emporiums, Karen also reminded us that when you are wearing vintage, it’s unlikely somebody else will show up wearing the same thing.
Finally, we were taught how the simple scarf can be used to jazz up an outfit in many different ways. Karen showed us several excellent folding and knotting techniques so we could make neckties, boleros and capes out of the same piece of cloth – cue much hilarity as we tried, and sometimes failed, to master the art.
Norwich is resplendent with vintage clothes places, charity shops and thrift stores. Get down there and find yourself an eye-catching outfit that’ll be great for your bank balance and your conscience.
Roll up, roll up for the November night you don’t want to miss – the Swallowtail WI Quingo.
If you are wondering what on earth Quingo is, wonder no more – it’s the combination of bingo and quizzing. That’s right two awesome competitions for the price of one. Double the awesome for half the price. As usual, quiz mistress and all-around superstar Szara will be our MC for the night – delivering some brainteasing general knowledge questions then calling out numbers until someone shouts, ‘bingo!’.
If you’ve ever enjoyed one of our events, you’ll know we are serious about cake – and there will be plenty to feast on as you and your team compete for quingo glory. We’ve got prizes galore for the winners, and a raffle too – so you’ve got plenty of chances to be a winner on the night.
Quingo will take place on Friday 16th November 2018, 7.15pm - 10pm at
Sprowston Social Club, Blue Boar Lane, Norwich, NR7 8RY. You can buy a ticket for just £3 per person, and each team will have 8 members. Don’t worry if you don’t have enough people to fill a table – smaller groups and individual players are very welcome and will be assigned to teams to make up other 8s.
To buy your ticket, just pay £3 for each ticket by BACS.
Our bank details are:
Sort Code:- 206268
Account Number:- 13532593
Please use your name and QGO as the reference.
If you want to rock up on the night, please bring cash or cheque.
Any questions, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. See you there!
You may think that jigsaw racing seems like a tame pastime – you are sadly mistaken. The competition was fearsome at the Swallowtail WI inaugural jigsaw race, with six tables of puzzlers fighting to win the day.
Each table was given the same 500 piece puzzle to complete, and the rivalry was so intense that some members didn’t stop for a cuppa and a slice of cake, for fear of falling behind. The winning team did a sterling job, completing the largest amount of the jigsaw, and were crowned the winners. It was a pity we couldn’t start a few hours earlier as some of us would have loved the chance to put the final piece in place.
For those who weren’t up for a jigsaw, there was a hilarious and raucous game of Harry Potter Cards Against Humanity in the kitchen. For the uninitiated, the game is a very risqué affair, where players compete to play their cards in the most shocking way possible. Judging by the peals of laughter emanating from the room, the girls playing had a brilliant time. Just don’t ask what the most inventive answers were.
Excitingly, we turned 3 this month, and it's amazing how time has flown by since our first ever meeting. We're so lucky to have some amazing bakers in our group, and the awesome Kim baked us a beautiful and yummy cake to make the occasion.
During the jigsaw race, and with a slice of cake in hand, the book club congregated to discuss our latest read – Things A Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nichols. This young adult novel told the stories of teen suffragettes Evelyn, May and Nell as they navigated the violent and scary world of activism, and coped with the tragedy and horror of World War I.
The debate around the book was lively and interesting, with some members falling in love with the story, and others unimpressed by the writing and character development. Regardless of which side you were on, we all agreed that it was a thought-provoking book to debate and gave us a lot to think about. For our next book club, we’re going to read This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay and Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout.
After this jam-packed and fun-filled evening, it was time to go home. Here's to the next three year's of the Swallowtail WI.
When we started thinking about our summer meeting this year, there were two ingredients that we knew would make the perfect Swallowtail social recipe – delicious food and inspiring women. That’s why we decided to treat our members to a double whammy of catered food by M&S and a screening of the incredible NASA story, Hidden Figures.
There are so many talented, interesting women in our mix, so the conversation flowed as we enjoyed sumptuous sandwiches, savoury bites and too many sweet things to mention. Add popcorn and fizzy drinks to the mix, and we were ready to settle down for the evening’s entertainment.
Hidden Figures is the true story of NASA women Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe).
These three pioneering women overcame racism and prejudice to excel in their work at the International Space Station. Gifted with incredible talents in maths, engineering and science, this trio of friends helped America to keep up with Russia in the space race and became famous for their game-changing work. It was wonderful to enjoy this inspirational and hugely-entertaining film together, and there were plenty of our members brought to tears by the moving story.
After an emotional and fun-filled evening, there was a parting gift for our members as they got to take some of the buffet home to enjoy too. Great food, amazing company and inspiring cinema, that’s winning combination in our book!
It’s been a busy year for the Swallowtail WI, but it’s still hard to believe we’re halfway through 2018. Our fun summer social is ahead, so July was a more serious affair as we welcomed Stephen Maunder from Norfolk County Council’s Trading Standards to tell us about scams and how to spot them.
The statistics around scams in the UK are jaw-dropping - with almost all of us targeted by criminals trying to make us part with our money. Worse still, many victims of these scammers feel too ashamed and embarrassed to share their stories. But Stephen told us that as the scams get ever more sophisticated, the problem will get worse. It’s down to all of us to get educated about scams and share our knowledge with those around us, particularly the vulnerable.
Scammers use a range of techniques and approaches to con their way into our lives. Whether they turn up on our doorsteps, in our inboxes or over the phone, you have to be vigilant. Sadly, it’s the elderly, the lonely and other vulnerable people who are often trapped into their web, and the scammers will work overtime to develop a false rapport or relationship with those people to get their hands on their money.
Stephen’s talk was fascinating and quite terrifying. But we learned a lot about how to spot a scam and what to check for if we are suspicious about a call, email or person. It was an incredibly insightful evening and we’re hoping that scammers won’t stand a chance against the Swallowtails from now on.
We are looking forward to next month and getting together for a social evening to remember. Good pals, delicious cakes and lots of fun, what else can you ask from your WI?
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