Latest information from NFWI

FAQs (updated 26 June 2020)
COVID-19 impact on WI activities and members

We have received a lot of questions from members about the impact of COVID-19 on WI activities and members. We hope these FAQs will help to answer a lot of your questions.

Please note: These will be updated regularly as the situation develops, but please keep a very close watch on Gov.uk for the most up to date and relevant information and advice.

Should we cancel WI meetings and events?

The Government is advising everyone to reduce social contact, particularly those who are vulnerable. As the situation is still so uncertain, it is not clear how many WI meetings and events will need to be cancelled, but our advice will always be to prioritize members safety and wellbeing, ensuring that the Government advice is followed. Many WIs are already implementing alternative arrangements to ensure they stay connected and support members who may become more socially isolated without their WI meetings and the support network it provides. Please see our #MyVirtualWI page for ideas and inspiration.

How can vulnerable members be supported?

This time will be particularly difficult for vulnerable members, especially people who live alone. Without WI meetings taking place, take time to check on members in your community in other ways. For members who may not have access to a computer or mobile phone, telephone them on their landline regularly to check in and see if they need any support. For those who do use technology, you may wish to set up WI WhatsApp groups or Facebook messenger groups if you haven’t done so already. Meetings and subgroups certainly don’t have to stop, for example, you could try holding your meetings, craft groups, book clubs or film clubs via Zoom or free conference calling software. Please have a look at our Guide to Zoom for more information.

So many WI members are doing amazing work to keep their communities connected and to ensure nobody is isolated or in need. Have a look at our WI Community Champions page for case studies of some of these extraordinary members.

The uncertainty of this situation can be scary and affect our mental health. It is normal to feel vulnerable and overwhelmed as we read news about the outbreak, especially if you have experienced trauma or a mental health problem in the past. While social media can be invaluable for staying connected, it can also circulate a great deal of scaremongering and untrustworthy information surrounding the virus. You can hide content and unfollow pages that are making you feel uneasy alongside stopping news notifications on your phone.

What are the consequences of not having 11 meetings a year as stated in the constitution?

With the uncertainty of this situation and how long it will go on for, it is not possible to say how many meetings may have to be cancelled due to the virus. In order to try and maintain the 11 meetings a year, WIs should consider holding virtual meetings using Skype or Zoom (which are free) where possible. This may be slightly easier for some WIs than others depending on how big their membership is, along with their access to the software. In other instances, WIs could move one or more of their cancelled meetings to later in the year, and could even hold more than one meeting per month later in the year.

However, if you are unable to hold 11 meetings this year, please do not worry, as the health and wellbeing of members is far more important. These are unprecedented times with many organisations and charities asking the same questions, and the Charity Commission is aiming to be as flexible and pragmatic as possible to help organisations to continue to function effectively during this period. We have sent official legal guidance to all federations, and would also suggest that members continue to review the latest information on the charity commission website, as advice and information are changing regularly.

For the time being, we ask WIs to please focus on supporting other members and keeping connected during the period you are unable to meet.

A lot of WIs have also been concerned about cancelling their Annual Meetings and elections, and the consequences of this on their WI operations. In the current circumstances, the Charity Commission has confirmed that it understands that charities may have no choice but to cancel or postpone their AGMs and other critical meetings. The guidance we have sent to federations explains this in much more detail, so please contact your federation or NFWI if you have any specific concerns or questions.

Are NFWI offering refunds or a membership subscription extension to cover the WI meetings that will be cancelled?

The NFWI has been very concerned about the disruption this lockdown period has had on WI meetings and activities and the membership experience this year. We recently held consultations with all federations to discuss ways in which we can acknowledge this in our membership subscription this year.

As a result, we are offering a three-month extension to this year’s membership subscription. The next renewal date for membership subscriptions will, therefore, be 1st April 2021. In addition, from this point onwards, membership renewals will always be in April. This is to acknowledge the feedback many of you shared with us during the recent Strategic Vision consultation about the challenges of the January payment date and how you wished to see this changed in the future.

We have added full FAQs to My WI to help you understand a bit more about the process and how this will impact WIs. The FAQs can be found here: https://mywi.thewi.org.uk/essential-information/subscription-rates/faqs-membership-subscription-extension

We know that many WIs have responded creatively to the practical challenges posed by lockdown and we continue to be inspired by the activities being delivered to ensure members remain connected during this difficult time. However, we do appreciate that this period has meant that many members have experienced disruption to their WI experience and therefore we hope the additional three months will provide some compensation to acknowledge the disruption.

What should we do about events and venue cancellations?

The financial implications of event cancellations will vary depending on the venue you have booked with. You should seek advice directly from the venue along with your insurance company regarding their policy. If your WI’s insurance is managed at federation level, please contact your federation.

Are the NFWI offices still open?

As of Wednesday 18 March, the NFWI London, NFWI Wales and NFWI–Unit offices have closed and staff are working from home. You are still able to contact all staff via emails and telephone as normal.

Please do not send anything urgent via post as we are not currently accessing the office buildings at all. If you want to send us anything that cannot be sent via email, please call us to discuss alternative arrangements.

Are all NFWI events cancelled or postponed?

The Annual Meeting at the Royal Albert Hall on 4 June has been cancelled, and the Wales Conference on 26 April has been postponed until later this year (date TBC). We make the decision to cancel the Annual Meeting with great sadness and we know many members will be very disappointed, as we are, but we always prioritise the health and wellbeing of our members above anything else.

You will still receive your Annual Meeting documentation in the upcoming NFWI mailing as this was signed off at the end of February. Please retain this documentation and we will be in touch to confirm how we will proceed with regard to the selection of this year’s resolutions.

There is more information here: https://mywi.thewi.org.uk/nfwi-news/articles/coronavirus-update-on-nfwi-events-and-activities

What happens to the 2019/20 resolutions?

As the NFWI Annual Meeting was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the two resolutions due to be discussed were not able to be debated or voted on by delegates.

The NFWI Board of Trustees has decided that in these exceptional circumstances, the results of the shortlist selection process will be used as a proxy for the Annual Meeting vote. Please visit https://www.thewi.org.uk/campaigns/resolutions/resolution-selection-results-2020 for further information.

When will Denman re-open?

We are delighted that ‘Denman at Home’ has allowed many of you to benefit from the variety of courses on offer, just delivered a different way, under the current circumstances. We are also proud to have been able to connect with many of you who have never been to Denman. Most importantly, we are delighted to see the enthusiasm for these courses so far.

As we all come to terms with the detrimental impact of COVID 19 and try to return to normal activities again, the safety of everyone who comes to Denman still remains our utmost priority. Based on a review of these factors and following advice from our Health and Safety advisers, regrettably, we have concluded that we will not be able to reopen on 1 July as we had previously hoped. The procedures we would need to put in place due to government guidance, would significantly impact on the delivery of our services at Denman and result in the reduction of the capacity of the college.

In addition, we know from speaking with you that many of you do not wish to visit Denman until life has returned to normal, but this, of course, means we have exceptionally reduced student numbers, making courses impossible to run. Based on reduced numbers and crucially the complexities around re-opening, Denman will, therefore, continue to remain closed until further notice. We will continue to monitor and review government guidance and keep you updated. Consequently, the few remaining courses in July and August will unfortunately now also be cancelled. For anyone still booked on these courses, we will be contacting you shortly to process a refund.

We are profoundly saddened to take this course of action and apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, but we hope that ‘Denman at Home’ will make up for this for the short term.

Visit https://www.denman.org.uk/ for further information and regular updates.

Can WI members and WIs help to craft items such as face masks and uniform bags for the NHS?

Over the past couple of weeks, we have received a number of queries about whether WI members can craft items to support the NHS. The NFWI is very concerned at reports of shortages of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other vital items of clothing and equipment and urges the government and NHS to make sure that all health and care staff get the right protection to carry out their vital roles.

It is important to note that many items of PPE are single-use and produced to strict specifications, so in many cases, crafted items would not be appropriate.

We have been in touch with the NHS and are aware that there is a need for scrubs in some areas of the country. This is not confined to NHS services, as other health and care services like care homes and domiciliary care services are increasingly using scrubs for their staff.

At present, these projects are being managed locally by various volunteer groups to respond to particular local need. The NHS is under significant pressure at the current time, and so we want to make sure that any contribution members make to support our NHS is timely, useful and responds to local need. We are aware that some health services are not in need of these items whereas others do still need supplies. As such, it would not be appropriate to launch a national appeal and we are instead encouraging members who wish to support their local health and care services to do this at a local level.

If you are aware that your local hospital or other health or care services are in need of these items and are calling on the community for help, please do organise this on a local level. If you are able to contact your local hospital, you can let them know your WI is available to support with making these items if necessary. Given the burden on NHS staff at this time, it is preferable for you to contact the charity arm of your local hospital who can advise how best to support them, or to make contact with volunteer groups already coordinating donations. If you would like to support a local care service or care home you can find nearby services by searching on the CQC website.

This page was last updated on 26 June 2020.


Lanceprint are not operating during the lockdown period, so Caroline Wright has produced an in house Federation newsletter for June with contributions from WIs.  Your secretary will have received a copy for distribution, or you can read it HERE.


NEWS FROM Maureen Sullivan, President of Cradley WI

I am very delighted and proud to inform HFWI members that my sister Val Smith-Orr who runs the  burns charity triplebcareprojects.org in the Philippines has been awarded the ‘Order of Australia Medal’  in the Queens birthday honours for services to the international community through nursing.

As you all know I collect unwanted medical supplies for her  from  Herefordshire WIs which Cradley WI members help me sort and pack. When ever we can meet again I will still be collecting . Last year a medical company sent me six pallets of out of date dressings-  thousands of dressings which Cradley WI ladies had been helping me sort and repack.( before lock down)The six boxes members helped me pack at the beginning of March were finally picked up in May and fingers crossed 🤞Val will receive them in July.

I was so pleased to have got to see her in the Philippines in January , how lucky was I? The lock down there was quite extreme.At one point no one was allowed out and food parcels were delivered by the local authorities, mainly rice & noodles which resulted in more burns & scalds. Val is classed as a front line worker so she was allowed to run emergency clinics. Her “ambulance” basically a metal box on a 3 wheeler motor bike was allowed out to either take Val to the patient or bring the patients to her clinic. A local company usually making motor bike helmets changed to making PPE and donated Val her own PPE. She had plenty of scrubs as her friends in Australia have been making them for her from donated materials & bed linens for a while now. She received another box just before lockdown.

Both public transport and the postal service are still closed in the Philippines so Val never got the formal letter about her award. However even when open ,there is not the postal service as we know it, you have to go to the post office to collect post , so if you are not expecting a letter …!  The Australian ladies who had nominated her are from another charity in the Philippines which Val supports. They realised she would not know and organised a zoom meeting with her as soon as the list was published in Australia which was 6.30am her time. She wondered what on earth was the matter and could hardly believe it when they told her. From the congratulations I have received from WI members and the hundreds on her Facebook page everyone knows what a well deserved award it is for a truly inspirational woman.

Maureen Sullivan
President Cradley WI




Please see below a thank you from Sue Robinson.

Dear WI ladies,
I want to thank you so much for rising to the challenge of making 2500 laundry bags for Hereford Hospital. As Black Hill Scrubs, we had bitten off rather more than we could chew and it is thanks to you that the order was fulfilled, indeed exceeded with over 3000 laundry bags eventually being delivered to the hospital.

You have shown that the wonderful WI will rise to the challenge when there is a national emergency and your work has meant that doctors and nurses have been able to safely transport their dirty, contaminated scrubs and gowns for laundering.
Thank you so much,

Sue Robinson
Black Hill Scrubs


Hospital Scrub Bags

Dear Ladies, you have done Herefordshire proud. This week you have made 604 scrub bags. So, together with the 958 and another 47 handed in last Wednesday the grand total is, there should be a drum roll here, 1,609 . We cannot thank you enough for responding to the Hospital's request . Please pass on our appreciation to all the sewists who raided their linen cupboards, cajoled neighbours and friends for fabric and dived into their stash. The bags came in beautifully sewn in all colours and hues, some even had messages for the NHS workers and a lady who didn't sew knitted dolls with their face masks on which brought a smile to everyone's face. They have all been collected from WI House by Lydia and her husband who will take them to the Hospital contact. Please let me know if you have made some which have gone directly to the Hospital and I can add them to our tally. Also, I received 11 bags in the post yesterday without a name, please let me know who you are so I can thank you.

Best wishes and well done.

Caroline Wright, Federation Secretary


Good morning ladies, we have now met Hereford Hospital's scrub bag objective so we can stand down regarding these. I know scrubs are still being made, and are needed, as well as face mask adapters but our remit was the bags. Well done everyone and thank you. Total today is 1,846.



Letter to members from Val Lewis

Dear Members

Please can you take some time during your spring-cleaning and gardening to look at MY WI online.

There are many ways that we can stay connected with one another even though we must stay in our homes, this explains how we can go about it.

Please let me know if you are able to have meetings online via the many ways that we have available to us now.

I asked you previously about craft items that you have made during the lockdown. If we manage to have our annual meeting in October as arranged we could show them to the other members. I am so pleased the the WI members stepped up and made so many scrub bags for the hospital, very well done to all concerned. I have spoken to Juliet Isherwood in National and she would love some photos of our efforts to be sent to her. Please contact her if you need to. The number in NFWI gets re directed to her home number.

Val Lewis


Dilwyn WI can be proud of one of its members with her starring interview in WI Life.  Well done Georgina for putting Herefordshire Federation on the map!




This email is being sent on behalf of the NFWI by Melissa Green, NFWI General Secretary to all Federation Chairmen, Federation Treasurers, Federation Secretaries, NFWI Board of Trustees and the NFWI senior staff team.

Dear all

NFWI events

In light of the ongoing spread of COVID-19 and the new Government advice regarding social contact, the NFWI has made the difficult decision to cancel the Annual Meeting at the Royal Albert Hall on 4 June, and to postpone the Wales Conference on 26 April until later this year. We have been keeping a very close eye on the situation over the last few weeks but as the number of cases is rising and advice is becoming stricter, we believe this is the most responsible decision to make, even at this distance from the June event. We make this decision with great sadness and we know many members will be very disappointed, as we are, but we always prioritise the health and wellbeing of our members above anything else. We are still working out the practicalities involved for both events, but we wanted to let members know as soon as possible.

You will still receive your Annual Meeting documentation in the upcoming NFWI mailing as this was signed off at the end of February. Please retain this documentation and we will be in touch to confirm how we will proceed with regard to the selection of this year’s resolutions.


Denman is postponing all courses and specific events that were scheduled to run until 12 April. Please contact Denman directly if you have a booking to discuss how you wish to proceed. We understand that many of you are concerned about current bookings and may wish to receive a refund, however we are all conscious of the financial impact this period of closure may have on Denman and therefore request you to consider postponing your booking to a later date rather than cancelling if this is possible. Please note that we will review all future courses again in a week’s time and will update you accordingly. Thank you for your continued support for Denman.

Walking Netball

England Netball have announced that all netball activity is being suspended until further notice, which includes Walking Netball. Walking Netball hosts will be contacted directly to discuss further.

We kindly ask federations to communicate this information to members as widely as possible. The NFWI will also circulate this information on its website, on My WI and on all social media platforms at 4.30pm today (17 March 2020).

Further information

NFWI Annual Meeting

We urge you to cancel any travel and accommodation bookings immediately, in order to obtain refunds as far as possible.

This is a cancellation, not a postponement and we are currently exploring other ways of ensuring you can participate in the different elements of the Annual Meeting process without incurring additional cost.

The NFWI will pick up all central costs of cancelling this event i.e. venue hire.

Members who have paid for observer tickets should be reimbursed; invoices to federations for observer tickets will be revoked/ refunded if already paid.

All 2020 Pooling of Fares payments made to the NFWI will be refunded to federations.

The NFWI is unable to cover the cost of accommodation and this will have to be covered by federations in the usual way, if refunds are not possible. Federations can ask WIs to contribute to these costs however this is to their discretion and would be a voluntary contribution.

Federations are not obliged to reimburse travel and accommodation costs to WI Advisers and observers, if refunds for these services are not possible.

The staff team at the NFWI will be working behind the scenes to ensure that any governance obligations can be carried out, for example resolutions voting. We ask for your patience while we confirm these arrangements. Further information will follow as soon as it is available.

Wales Conference

We will follow up with all attendees directly when we have confirmed the rescheduled date in order to transfer bookings.

WI meetings

As outlined in my email yesterday, we are now actively encouraging WIs to follow the new Government advice and reduce contact as far as possible, particularly for those who are more vulnerable. We are putting together FAQs for WIs and members to outline this, as well as some of the other practicalities involved.

If you have any further questions on this matter please feel free to contact myself or Kerri McGarvie, Board Secretary & Events Manager.

Kind regards

Melissa Green
General Secretary





After much debate and with consideration for the continuing good health of our members the Board of Trustees have decided to postpone Herefordshire Federation’s ACM from Monday 27th April 2020 until MONDAY 12TH OCTOBER 2020. We have re-booked the hotel and are in the process of contacting the speakers and guests to inform them. Those members who have already paid for their entry/lunch will have their money refunded. We shall let you know as soon as details for the ACM in October are finalised.

Val Lewis




Dear Ladies,

Due to unforseen circumstances I have had to make a change to the date for the final of the Federation Quz for 2020.
The venue for the final and the time, Sutton St Nicholas Village Hall at 7.00 p.m. remains the same.
The new date is Friday March 27th, one week after the preliminary rounds.
I would be grateful if you would make sure that your quiz teams know about this change.
To confirm, the preliminary rounds of the quiz remain unchanged, but the Final will now take place one week earlier than originally planned at 7.00 pm on Friday March 27th.
I apologise for the inconvenience this might have caused.
Best wishes,

17.01.2020 A final decision about whether this course will take place will be made in July 2020

Listen Speak Inspire Course run by NFWI.  Taking place in Hereford Wednesday 30 September 2020 venue Bartestree Village Hall

Flyer with full information for the course download

If you are interested in applying download the application form here


Jean Haig

Jean Haigh, who sadly died just before Christmas was a popular member of Cradley WI since the early 70s. In 2006 she also joined Bromyard WI when we reopened a new WI in the town. She was on the board of the Herefordshire Federation for a number of years and served on several subcommittees including Sport and Leisure and the 3 Counties Show. She was on the Membership Support Committee until she and her husband left Cradley to live in Norfolk near their family. She was part of the team that compiled the newsletter when it was produced in-house. She was a loyal and hardworking WI member who will be greatly missed by all who knew her. We extend our sympathy to her family. There will be a service for Jean in Cradley church on Monday February 10th at 12 noon.