‘WI Talk’ by Sheila Goldsworthy

Former CFWI Chairman and current Assistant Media Officer Sheila Goldsworthy writes a wonderful monthly WI column for The Cornishman. Here is Sheila’s January column.

Starting off the New Year, members are already embarking down the educational and informative path when they have to choose which resolution to vote for at the Annual Meeting at the Royal Albert Hall in June. The four resolutions are listed in the November/December edition of WI Life together with the selection form to be sent in by 11 February. As is often the case, the subject of a resolution has been on the agenda in the past as confirmed in the first resolution which reads, “There is a chronic shortage of NHS dentists and people suffering health issues as a result. The NFWI calls on the Government to increase investment in the training of dentists and to review the current inadequate NHS contracts to ensure everyone can access an NHS dentist wherever they live”. The focus of this resolution will resonate with many of us. The first WI resolution concerning dental health was proposed in 1926 with special reference to children’s teeth; the mandate has been reaffirmed through the years.

The second resolution is on the impact of poor housing conditions, and again is asking the government to boost housing standards and regulations to increase funding for housing renovations and increase the supply of affordable and secure housing. There have been many resolutions on the varied aspects of housing conditions through the years and several bills have been presented in Parliament in recent times, on this very topical issue.

The third resolution has brought the WI right up to date with its stance on “say no to gambling advertising”. Harm caused by excessive gambling is a global problem. Some countries are already addressing this, by banning advertising. The NFWI calls on members, the Government, regulators, the NHS, educators and gambling charities to work together towards a complete ban on gambling advertising. This will reduce gambling harm, save the NHS money, protect family relationships and decrease the number of suicides (around 400 per annum at present). The statistics available on the harm gambling has taken over young people’s lives is frightening with as many as 30,000 young people aged 11-16 suffering from harmful gambling habits. In the face of mounting concerns, Italy and Belgium have taken drastic measures banning gambling advertising altogether.

The fourth resolution is another instance of life in 2024 and states that there is a urgent need to radically reform decision making in respect of women in the criminal justice system and in particular pregnant women and women with children. The resolution also urges cross-government collaboration to deliver on the 2018 Female Offender Strategy by setting goals, robust governance and performance measures to reduce the number of women who have committed non-violent offences from being imprisoned. The WI has achieved sterling work on this topic in recent times under their successful “Care Not Custody”. So perhaps this is the time to take it a step further.

There are very helpful notes on all the proposed resolutions in WI Life. Once the resolution selected is known, CFWI have arranged a series of Resolution Roadshows in April with further information to help members understand the resolution and the process. As WI members, we can be very proud of the many weighty issues we have brought to the public’s attention through the years.

We now have an extra minute of daylight each day so in that time we can concentrate on the Royal Cornwall Show of which we are very proud with the entries and our marquee the talk of the Show. To help prepare for the RCS and other shows this summer, there is an excellent event being held at Chy Noweth an Conteth on Friday 23 February. A little more knowledge can make all the difference between winning and losing. Three judges will be on hand to explain what judges in general are looking for. Members are asked to bring one of the following: a hand knitted item, a home made cake or a small flower arrangement. This event is such a superb idea as country shows are part and parcel of local and WI interests, and we can all do with good advice.

This year’s Royal Cornwall Show Cup competition is being organised by the Cookery and Craft sub-committee and details were sent out with the November issue of County News. WIs are invited to create a staged exhibit using both their skills and imagination based on the poem Sea Fever by John Masefield. What an innovative and challenging competition which is perfect for WI members’ talents. The marquee will be buzzing.

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