In a digital age full of gender equality, who would have thought that a new branch of the WI could be Wellington’s fastest-growing community group.
In under a year founder Karen Janas has taken the group from a bunch of female friends in her lounge to a monthly meeting of approaching 90 attendees. They hope to reach 100 members in the next few months. Sub-groups ranging from creative writing, crafts, books, walking & cycling to skittles have sprung up.
“At first it was mostly friends of friends, women in their thirties like me,” said Karen, 39. “But now it ranges from early twenties to members in their 70s.
“We’ve had speakers from a style coach to the painter Tilly Willis, as well as sessions on felt-making and being a blood donor. We don’t sing Jerusalem and some of us make jam – although not at meetings.”
Traditionally the Women’s Institute has been a village-centred organisation (in fact Karen’s mum runs a WI group in Appley Cross) whereas towns had a guild. “This is changing nationally, for instance Bristol has four WIs and more locally Wells has a very successful group and Cheddar has just opened it’s second!”said Karen.
“There just seemed to be a large demand for a group like this, bigger than I thought possible, and I’ve met some fantastic new people through it,” said Karen, who was Head of Innovation at the Hydrographic Office before taking to self-employment as a counsellor/coach.
“I suppose another motivation was that I work for myself, mostly from home and I wanted to make new friends.”
The Wellington WI meets on the third Thursday of every month at 7pm at the Beambridge Inn. All are welcome.
Wellington WI online
This is changing nationally, for instance Bristol has four WIs and more locally Wells has a very successful group and Cheddar has just opened it’s second!”