Friday, 19 May 2017

Find out more about the Food Waste Weekend of Action: Friday 19th to Sunday 21st May 2017

This weekend WIs up and down the country will be taking part in our Food Waste Action Weekend. This blog shines a light on some of the most striking findings our  research report into food waste, as well as giving some suggestions about creative ways for WIs to engage with their local supermarkets on this issue.

The Wasted Opportunities report is the first stage of the WI’s Food Matters campaign which was launched after a resolution on food waste and food poverty was passed at the 2016 Annual Meeting. While there has been much progress in recent years to tackle the issue of food waste, our report found that there is more that supermarkets can do to drive progress.

We found practices that can lead to overbuying, date labels that cause confusion, and wonky fruit and veg ranges that simply aren’t available on the supermarket shelves. The report highlights a number of areas where supermarkets can make positive improvements to help tackle food waste up and down the food supply chain.

With over 5000 WI members contributing to the two surveys on which the report is based, we developed a strong sense of the food waste landscape all the way from Durham to Dorset! Our aim was to establish whether supermarket practices were contributing to the millions of tonnes of food wasted every single year, and the results we received were startling.

WI members found that in the supermarkets they surveyed, 75% still offered multi-buys on fresh produce. These multi-buy offers could encourage customers to buy larger quantities of food than they might do otherwise, and can lead to food waste in the home. Members reported disparities in ‘once opened, use within’ guidance given on jars and packaging. They found that 25% of own-brand products had a shorter ‘once-opened use within’ life than equivalent branded products. It has been estimated that extending the life of a product by just one day could cut down on 250,000 tonnes of food waste.

Other key findings include:
  • Members want to buy products in quantities convenient to them; 91% of members expressed a preference to a price reduction over a multi-buy offer. 84% of members said they would prefer to buy products loose than in a multipack.
  • Members were confused about ‘best before’ and ‘use-by’ dates. Only 45% of members understood that best before dates were a marker of food quality. 26% of respondents didn’t realise that use-by dates were a marker of food safety.  
  • 90% of WI members said they’d be happy to buy fruit or veg which was blemished or misshapen, yet only 29% of stores had a  ‘wonky range’ and if they did have one, the vast majority (68%) only stocked one or two products.
Drawing on our findings, the NFWI has produced the ‘WI Supermarket Food Waste Manifesto’. This Manifesto outlines four commitments supermarkets can make to help cut the amount of food that is wasted up and down the food supply chain.

The Manifesto calls for action on the following areas;
  • Overbuying
  • Extending the product life of foods in the home
  • Fully utilising the farm crop
  • Supermarket transparency on food waste
How can you get involved in the campaign?
Many WIs will be visiting their local stores this weekend, and meeting with the supermarket manager. Do remember to take along the WIs Food Waste Manifesto to show how supermarkets can help reduce household and supply chain food waste by committing to the recommendations in the Manifesto.

Ideally we want  supermarket managers to pass on the Manifesto to their supermarket head offices so that we can really put the pressure on retailers to make positive change to help tackle food waste.  To get the most out of your meeting, the NFWI has produced a discussion guide for WIs to help steer the meeting. This can be found on our Food Matters campaign page here.

Once you’ve managed to set up a meeting with your local supermarket manager, you might want to think about ways of bringing some of the issue we’ve highlighted in our report to life with your supermarket manager.

You could think about: 
  • Collating examples of confusing labelling, multi-packs and multi-buys offers with you, to take with you to the meeting to highlight there and then what needs to change
  • You could get together as a WI ahead of the meeting to create Artivism, to draw attention to the campaign, drawing inspiration from artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s portraits made of vegetables. Small scale collages or huge Art Attack style pictures, perhaps putting to use those ‘wonky waste vegetables’ to create a piece. Take photos of the WI group with the supermarket manager or invite the local media to take the photos for you.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure you take plenty of photos, share it on social media and let the local media know of your plans. The NFWI has produced a template press release which you can use with the media. The press release can be found on the Food Matters campaign pages.  Our discussion guide also explains how to find your local media contacts.

For a copy of the campaign action pack which has more information about the campaign and how you can get involved, please see here.

A copy of the report can be found on the WI website here.

Too late to take part this weekend?
Don’t worry! You can arrange to meet your local supermarket manager at any time, not just during the weekend of action. What’s most important is that supermarkets hear that their customers want them to take action.

For further information regarding the report findings or the NFWI’s Food Matters campaign, please contact the Public Affairs Department.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Welcome transparency about the gender pay gap

Today Section 78 of the Equality Act comes into force, which requires that all businesses with over 250 employees conduct and publish a gender pay audit. These changes are important because they mean that for the first time, large employers have to be transparent about their gender pay gap.

The WI has been campaigning for equal pay for equal work since 1943, so we welcome these changes which will bring more openness about the pay gap between women and men. The gender pay gap now stands at 9.4% for full time workers and 18.1% for all types of workers/contracts. This means that women will earn significantly less than men over their entire careers, so more openness about this important issues is long overdue.

Yesterday was the final date by which eligible employers had to take a snapshot of their pay data and they now have until 5 April 2018 to publish their gender pay gap figures.
Companies will have to report their pay gap in a number of ways, including average pay gaps and bonus pay gaps. All this information must be published on the employer’s website for at least three years.

The ultimate goal of these changes is to make employers aware of their gender pay gap, urge them to take action to close it, and shed light on rates of pay so that employees are better informed.
Throughout 2015 and 2016, the NFWI contributed to government consultations and participated in talks with the Government Equalities Office on how to best implement these changes. We used that opportunity to highlight issues affecting women in work, such as: maternity discrimination, up-skilling for older women, and the need for well-paid, part-time roles. 

For gender pay audits to be effective, employees need to understand what the data actually mean. We’ve had look over the finalised regulations to find out how you will be able to access data from your own employer (if they’re eligible) and how you should interpret the figures.

How to access the information
The rules mean that employers with more than 250 employees must publish their results on their own website in an easily accessible way and on a dedicated website (which has yet to go live). The information must be published on the employer’s website for at least 3 years. The government website hub will allow employees to compare their employers with equivalents in the field with greater ease and will shed light on which businesses are underperforming. 

How to interpret the information
According to government guidelines, employers will have to produce data in a range of ways that will allow a fair picture of pay practices across the board to emerge. It is crucial that employees understand how to unpick this data, so we’ve provided an explanation below. 

The two most important sets of data that employers will need to publish are:
1) The difference in mean pay between male and female employees and
2) The difference in median pay between male and female employees
Both figures will give an average of the difference in pay between male and female employees, however they will do this in very different ways:
The mean pay will use all female employees’ salaries added together and divided by the number of female employees, and all male employees’ salaries added together and divided by the number of male employees. This will calculate the average difference between pay for men and women.

The median pay will take all the salaries for women, list them from lowest to highest and take the salary that falls exactly in the middle, doing the same for male employees, and using the two figures to calculate the pay difference.

As a result of this, organisations will publish mean and median figures that are quite different from one another. For example, if an organisation employs 4 women earning £10 an hour and 1 woman earning £40 an hour, and also employs 5 men earning £12 an hour, the median pay for women will be £10 while the median pay for men will be £12. Using the same data, the mean pay for women will be £16, while the mean pay for men will be £12. Despite the fact that only one woman is earning more than 5 other men, the mean figure would suggest that women are being paid, on average, more than men, when in reality the majority of women are being paid less.
Being able to distinguish between these figures will be vital for continuing the campaign to close the wage gap for all women.

Employers will also need to publish the difference between mean bonus pay paid to male and female employees, the proportion of male and female staff that were paid bonuses, and proportions of male and female employees in quartile pay bands. 

The NFWI will be monitoring the introduction of these rules, and will continue to push for more action to tackle the gender pay gap so that women are paid fairly.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Spotlight on Plastic Soup

Two resolutions will be going forward to the Annual Meeting in Liverpool on 7th June, so it is now time for WIs to consider how they wish their delegate to vote.

Each WI should now consider each resolution individually, not voting for one over the other. You can instruct your delegate to vote ‘FOR’, ‘AGAINST’ or you can give her ‘DISCRETION’ to decide on the day of the Annual Meeting. If both resolutions are passed, the NFWI will work on both issues.

Yesterday we considered the resolution focusing on loneliness, so today it is the turn of Plastic Soup.

The resolution focuses on the problem of microplastic fibres entering the oceans. These fibres can be shed from synthetic clothes when they are washed.

You can find out more about the problem by reading our short briefing notes.

Here’s a video from Plymouth University that explains how microfibres are shed through the washing process:

As these fibres are synthetic, they don’t biodegrade, and can be mistaken by marine life for food. Here’s a video showing a plastic microfibre entering plankton:

You may also wish to watch the trailer for A Plastic Ocean, a documentary that shows the scale of microplastic pollution in the ocean:

Prevention could be key to tackling this problem at source. There is also a need for further research to identify the scale of the problem and consider solutions. This video calls on clothing manufacturers to take action to tackle the problem:

Once you have read the notes and watched the films, you can test your knowledge by taking our quiz.

If you are holding discussions in your WI or Federation, you could use our presentation to discuss the issue.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Spotlight on Alleviating Loneliness

It’s that time of year again to start thinking about Annual Meeting resolutions! 

Over 91,000 members selected their preferred resolution to move forward to the Annual Meeting, and two resolutions will be going forward to the Annual Meeting. 

They are:

Alleviating loneliness

This meeting calls on every WI and the NFWI to work alongside health and social care providers and their local community to raise awareness of the causes and impacts of loneliness, thus ensuring better identification of lonely people in order to be able to offer them the appropriate assistance and support.

Plastic Soup: Keep microplastic fibres out of our ocean  

Microplastic fibres are shed from synthetic clothing with every wash and are the main contributors to microplastic contamination of the oceans. The NFWI calls on Government and industry to research and develop innovative solutions to this problem in order to stop the accumulation of microplastic fibres in our oceans.

Now it’s up to you and your WI to take time over the next two months to consider how you would like your delegate to vote on each resolution. You can instruct her to vote ‘FOR’, ‘AGAINST’, or you can give her ‘DISCRETION’ to decide on the day of the Annual Meeting. 

You don’t need to vote for one over the other – you must consider each individually.

In this blogpost we shine a spotlight on loneliness, to help you find out more about the subject and consider how you wish your delegate to vote.

To help you decide, we have put together some resources in a variety of formats for you and your fellow members to learn about the topic, test your knowledge, and share your findings at your next meeting. 

To learn the basics about what loneliness is, who it impacts, and its personal, societal, and economic costs, consult our short briefing paper.

It’s a good idea to print copies of the briefing paper out and hand out at your next meeting if you’re going to be discussing resolutions.

Once you think you’ve learned about loneliness, take our short quiz to test your knowledge

If you think loneliness just impacts older people think again. Many different groups of people are vulnerable to feeling chronically lonely. Watch this short Channel 4 video about new mums grappling with loneliness: 

If you would like to present this topic to your WI and you’re having trouble finding a speaker, why not do it yourself? You can use this presentation

We hope these resources help your WI arrive at a consensus about whether or not you would like to support this resolution. If you have any queries about this resolution, or the resolutions process in general, please contact the NFWI Public Affairs department at or 020 7371 9300 ext. 212.  

Next we will be focusing on Plastic Soup so watch this space for tomorrow’s blogpost.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Dementia UK supports NFWI’s Carers Welcome campaign

Guest blog post by Dr Hilda Hayo, Chief Admiral Nurse and CEO Dementia UK

Sadly, one in four hospital beds are occupied by someone with dementia. Being admitted to hospital can be both physically and emotionally demanding for people with dementia. The hospital environment can be unfamiliar, disorientating, and the person may find it difficult to communicate their needs.

Family carers are the experts in the care of their loved one with dementia and should always be consulted throughout the hospital stay. That’s why Dementia UK strongly supports the NFWI’s Carers Welcome campaign which is championing the rights of family carers. An approach to hospital care that includes family carers as ‘partners in care’, as well as allowing greater flexibility when it comes to visiting hours, enables families to be on-hand when needed, to speak up for the best interests of their loved one, and be a reassuring presence for the person with dementia when they may be feeling distressed or anxious. 

Specialist dementia support for families

It is also incredibly important that families have access to one-to-one specialist dementia support to help them cope with the changes and challenges that a dementia diagnosis can bring. 

Admiral Nurses, are specialist dementia nurses provided by the charity Dementia UK. They find solutions that others may not be in a position to consider – from identifying complex clinical issues, which are linked to other medical conditions, to the impact of dementia on family relationships and handling dementia-related behavioural issues which require clinical expertise, as well as being a listening ear. 

Admiral Nurses use their dementia expertise to support the whole family living with dementia. They work hand in hand with families, helping them cope with the fear, uncertainty and difficult everyday reality of dementia. In providing the compassionate support families need every step of the way, they help them to live more positively with dementia in the present; and to face the challenges of tomorrow with more confidence, and less fear.

The majority of Admiral Nurses work in the community and are also a link between health and social care to ensure that families receive better co-ordinated care. Dementia UK is also partnering with a growing number of hospitals to bring this specialist support to families in an acute hospital environment to minimize the stress and distress that some patients with a diagnosis of dementia – and their families – feel when they’re in a hospital. They share knowledge and skills with families to build resilience to better able them to cope and help prevent future crises.  

Anyone affected by dementia can access an Admiral Nurse’s expertise via Dementia UK’s Admiral Nursing Direct helpline which is staffed by experienced Admiral Nurses and open 7 days a week. 

Dementia UK is committed to growing the number of Admiral Nurses in the community and in acute settings but as a charity we are solely reliant on support from fundraisers and donors to make this possible. Please visit our website to find out more about Admiral Nurses and how you can support our work.

Support the Carers Welcome campaign

Are you an unpaid family carer of someone with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia?

Has the person you care for with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia spent time as a patient in hospital over the last five or so years?

If you answered ‘yes’ to the above two questions, then we need your help. As part of our Carers Welcome campaign for the rights of carers to access their loved one in hospital, we have launched a survey examining the experiences of carers just like you. Please help the campaign by filling out our survey and ensuring your voice is heard. Policy makers need evidence to support the case for change and encourage hospitals to improve. 

To take the survey online visit: 

To request a paper copy of the survey contact the NFWI Public Affairs department at or 020 7371 9300 ext.213. The survey should take 30-45 minutes to complete, depending on how detailed you wish to be. All responses will be kept strictly confidential. The survey closes 15 May 2017. 

Dr Hilda Hayo

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

"That's not for me!" Read more about our IAM Driving Days... written by the original Miss Daisy!

Guest blog by Gaye Bramley, Earl Shilton Afternoon WI, Leicestershire & Rutland Federation

Your WI has received the flyer entitled Are You a Confident driver? The WI and IAM RoadSmart are joining forces to develop women's driving skills. How many of you I wonder immediately say "that's not for me"!  Why?
·         I'm too old - Wrong!  I was born during the war.
·         I couldn't possibly do that - Wrong!  I was told many years ago there is no such word as can't, and until you try you don't know; (the IAM also offer a Mature Driver's Assessment which is done on a fairly informal basis, you can even take a friend with you, and they say that around 90% of older drivers assessed only need some minor guidance).
·         I don't need to do that - Wrong!  Don't forget we are never too old to learn and things have probably changed if, like me, you passed your test some 50 years ago.
·         They might stop me driving - Wrong!  They don't want to stop you driving, they aim to improve your driving and point you in the right direction if you need help.

I lost my husband at the end of 2015 and after some 50 years of driving a variety of vehicles, all over the country at times, I also lost my confidence in driving so I decided to sign up for the course at The British Motor Museum in Gaydon, Warwickshire last year. We were made to feel very welcome with coffee and hot croissants (breakfast was a distant memory!) and all refreshments were included in the course fee. The IAM volunteers were so friendly, and needless to say I was in good company with other WI members. Every effort was made to put us at ease. We each went out for a drive with a qualified IAM Instructor and were given a written log sheet at the end. We then had a manoeuvrability course to drive, of which I made a complete pig's ear!  After lunch we had some interesting talks on various aspects of driving, and of course in true WI tradition, tea and cakes!  There was absolutely no pressure to apply for the Advanced Driving Course but having been advised by the Instructor that he thought I would benefit from it, I decided I would, especially as there was an added incentive of a £10 discount if you signed up then!

In due course a qualified observer from my local IAM group, Bill, contacted me.  He provided me with his full details, qualifications, an email address and phone numbers- so don't worry if you don't use the internet - and I am free to contact him at any time for help.  We go out every week for an observed drive, followed by a de-brief.  You are taught to continually assess the situation; to look for hazards and potential hazards, and plan how to approach them; how to be tolerant to other road users; how to overtake safely; how to drive up to the speed limit if it is safe to do so; and how to use the road, something I'm not very good at doing at times, which has prompted my "passenger" to say GAFMO (Get a Flipping Move On!).

I have also learnt what abbreviations such as OAP stand for (no, it does NOT stand for Old Age Pensioner!) - Observation Anticipation Planning; TUG - Take Use Give; and LAD - Look Assess Decide; and the most important of all IPSGA - Information Position Speed Gear (if manual - I drive an automatic) Acceleration - the basis of all driving (I have this one blue-tacked to my dashboard to remind me!)

I have good days and bad days and at one point was ready to throw in the towel - I was told to turn left and promptly turned right amongst other things - and emailed Bill to that effect. I received a wonderful email back from him, and as a result of which I continued.  I have been accused of "Driving like Miss Daisy"- I was not amused - but it had the desired effect and we put her to bed (although she has been resurrected on occasions!)  She is now a standing joke between us and I have taken to signing my emails Miss D. I am accused of "comfort braking" which has progressed to "calendar braking" - in other words braking too often and sometimes too soon, especially on approach to bends and roundabouts, and taking too long to pull out of junctions. Bill has threatened to mark it on a calendar to see how long it takes me (I don't think he's cottoned on to "Calendar Girls" yet thank goodness!)

You also have to give a running commentary of what you see and explain what actions you are going to take and why. This really does make you concentrate on your driving, and when doing it in your head when you are on your own, it helps you concentrate instead of thinking about all the other things that need doing!

Behind all this of course is the serious message of how to be a better, and safer, driver. They see capabilities in you that you probably don't realise you have and you can ask them any questions, even if they sound daft. They also take you out for a demonstration drive and will probably scare the living daylights out of you! You learn about your car - you have to do a "cockpit drill" before you drive off including a POWDERY check  (P - enough fuel, O - oil level is OK, W - water in your radiator and windscreen washers, D - any damage to bumpers etc., E - electrics as in lights and indicators etc., R - rubber, i.e. your tyres have the legal minimum amount of tread, the pressures are correct, and the rubber on your windscreen wipers is OK, Y - is yourself and that you are feeling fit to drive; what all your controls are and how to use them to the best advantage and your seat, head rest, steering wheel and mirrors are set correctly for you and all seat belts fastened.)  At the end of the course, which can go on for up to a year if you want, you don't actually have to take your Advanced Motorists test if you really don't want to although of course you are encouraged to - I have yet to take mine!

Besides the benefit that my driving confidence has increased, and I hope improved,  I have discovered other benefits.  My general confidence has also increased and I am finding I have a more positive attitude in general and with that has come an added bonus. I am disabled and walk with a crutch and suffer pain most days. I suddenly realised recently that after a particularly enjoyable, albeit long, busy and tiring day at our County ACM, I hadn't been in any pain and I am sure this is as a direct result of me taking the plunge. So a big thank you to the WI and the IAM and not least to my observer Bill for believing in me. So go on ladies, you can do it, you never know what benefits may result. And just in case you are wondering they do have female observers but they are in a minority!

Friday, 24 March 2017

Take part in Earth Hour on 25th March

With just one day to go until Earth Hour 2017, preparations are well underway for what is set to be the biggest year yet.

Every year since 2007, WWF’s ‘Earth Hour’ has reminded us all of the pressing need to treat our environment with the care it deserves, by calling on individuals across the world to turn off their lights for one hour on one day each year. On this tenth anniversary year, we wanted to take a closer look at what this Hour really represents, and what makes this year’s Earth Hour so important.

2017 has been the hottest consecutive year on record, and in the wake of major climate talks in Paris and at home here in the UK, political action is desperately needed. With polar ice caps melting and sea levels rising at an alarming rate, it is no wonder that nearly 1 in 6 species now run the risk of extinction. By switching off your lights for just one hour, you can join millions of people across the globe in a symbolic show of support to protect planet Earth before it’s too late.

In the run up to March 25, well over 200 landmarks across the country are preparing to make their Earth Hour matter by switching off their lights and plunging into darkness for one hour. Last year saw families and friends across the nation holding candlelit board games, dinners and talks in the name of climate change.

With the government set to release their plan for how they are going to reduce emissions, WWF need more people than ever to sign up and #MakeClimateMatter.

If you would like to join them and take part, you can take inspiration from the resources available on WWF’s website to help you plan your own event.

Remember to switch your lights off for one hour at 8:30pm on March 25, and make this year’s Earth Hour count by sending a clear message that you want action on climate change right now.