The brains behind the Manchester WI:
Lucy Adams and Alexandra Taylor.
Back in the day the WI used to be PIONEERING and POLITICALLY active. Started in 1915, it now has over 200,000 members. I owe a huge chunk of my career success with The Wardrobe Angel to the WI and I won't hear a word against it but when you think of the WI (Women's Institute) your first thoughts may wander to jam, tea, cake, knitting. You may even get as far as Calendar Girls. But forget everything you think you know about the WI because two young ladies in Manchester have ripped up the rule book, changing the face of the WI ...forever....
Lucy Adams had lived in Manchester for 2 years and whilst working away in luxury retail she realised that the late nights and long days had left her with little time to make the most out of what is a truly magnificent city. She wanted to create a network of like-minded women who turned the city inside out for their own enjoyment, using local products and services and supporting each other in turn. Her step-mum was a member of an old-fashioned WI and Lucy, savvy chica that she is, realised the model for uniting women worked, it just needed a re-vamp, a push, nay, a shove into this century. Lucy contacted the WI Head Honchos with a brief for a younger, more vibrant, more relevant WI.
Now this is where the fates intervened. Another plucky young chic of Manchester origin also wanted to start a WI in Manchester city centre: Alexandra Taylor. She too had contacted the mother-ship WI with similar plans. The mother-ship WI put Lucy and Alexandra in contact and the rest is history. The two ladies met up over a series of months to define their brand of WI, the logo, the speaker content, the location. They got their ethos sorted: support grass roots businesses, shop local, craft the night away and question mass culture and fast fashion, all while creating a community vibe in the city centre.
The self styled "sistas from another mista" Lucy and Alexandra have created a brand of WI that is invigorating, fresh and fun: a modern slant on the traditional concept. Featured on BBC Breakfast and partnered up with Oxfam to promote upcycling and recycling, there isn't a whiff of Jam and Jerusalem here! Membership is capped at 150 to keep the community vibe but they open up to new members each January to avoid elitism. And it has worked! They now have a craft club, fitness club, cinema club plus numerous others...
Check out their Facebook page with all the details of meetings and happenings by clicking here.