CHAIRMAN’S MESSAGE – 30 JULY 2020
Hello, I am finding it very difficult to come to terms with the fact that as a Federation we are now having to take a look at all the plans we made for August and September. When these dates were set, mostly postponed from the Spring, we were so full of confidence that, by now, life would be continuing more or less as it was at this time last year.
The first event we have had to amend is the Cream Tea with Nick Bailey due to take place at the Concord Club, Eastleigh on the 18 August. This had already been postponed from the 31 March. It has now been agreed to delay this again until Spring 2021 and a firm date will be announced soon. The initial plan is to contact those of you who have bought tickets to ask you to roll them over to the new date, but if this is not possible, to consider donating the money to the Federation, but only if this an affordable option. Processing refunds is very time consuming and at present we only have two members of our staff working. As you will see by the message from Gail, our Treasurer, which is shortly to be sent out, the Federation is facing an enormous deficit this year.
As Trustees, the Board has now to consider the other dates which are in the diary for the Autumn of 2020, and decisions will have to be made according to Government guidelines. Members will be kept informed of any changes as soon as these are confirmed.
Now for some good news. The President of Hedge End WI, Jill Burrows, has spent some of her time in lockdown contacting various companies to see if she could negotiate discounts for Hampshire WI members and has so far received definite confirmation from Montezuma Chocolates who will give a 10% discount on production of your WI Membership card and also from The Edinburgh Woollen Mills who will give us 20% discount if we shop on line and quote Code WI20. These together with the discount we already receive from Closs and Gamblin (C & H Fabrics) means that we are beginning to build up a small portfolio. Any member is welcome to approach local businesses to see if they are able to offer WI members a discount – so there is this week’s challenge for you. Write to just one outlet and let me know what response you receive.
It has been heartening to hear of the steps you have been taking to reduce the use of one use plastic which is such a danger to our environment. It appears that many of us already carry fold-away fabric shopping bags – just in case - and purchase and reuse the mesh vegetable bags available in supermarkets. Other ideas include using bars of soap, shampoo and conditioner so ruling out plastic bottles, using an eco-egg for laundry, leaf tea instead of tea bags, and re-usable bees wax wraps. These wraps can be made at home or purchased. If purchased, they may appear rather expensive at first sight, but I have received the suggestion that they could make a welcome gift.
Talking of gifts, as we begin to meet together in our socially distanced bubbles, please would you give some thought to gathering together items for inclusion in baskets or decorated boxes ready for the Federation‘s Christmas Gift Sale which is booked to take place in St Maurice’s Covert, Winchester on Sunday 29 November. This outdoor, biennial event is always an important fund raiser for the Federation and, as mentioned above, is more important than ever this year. Also, there are three prizes up for grabs – one each for the most attractive ladies, gentleman’s and child’s gifts, decorating the boxes or baskets ready for the items to go in, is an ideal activity for WIs which are meeting in small groups.
Until next time,
We welcome friends on Facebook
The Portsmouth Guildhall is unable to host the postponed Spring Council Meeting & AGM on Wednesday 23 September 2020.
We are working hard to organise a replacement programme and will be in touch with everyone soon.
Due to Covid – 19 WI House is currently closed and only 2 staff members are working. Please be patient as enquiries may take a little longer to respond to.
Thursday 15 October 2020
10 - 14 May 2021
HAMPSHIRE FEDERATION TREASURER, GAIL PUSSARD
In October last year I stood in front of the assembled members at the Autumn Meeting at the Anvil in Basingstoke and spent a few minutes telling you about the plan and budget for the new financial year which started on 1st October 2019.
Well my crystal ball was not just muddy, it didn’t say a word about a pandemic, lockdowns, self-isolation, furloughing and a host of other expressions we have come to know (although maybe not love). Many people have lost loved ones. I lost my sister-in-law to Covid-19 in May, so I know the angst.
The year 2020 was always going to be a challenging year, financially for the Federation. Your BoT had been getting to grips with the anti-climax that has come after our extremely successful centenary year. New ideas and different ways of doing things were being put together.
Then COVID-19 arrived and the world changed almost overnight. Although the Federation was fortunate to receive your membership subscriptions in March and April (and the late comers are still trickling in), all other events were at best postponed or cancelled.
The Federation has taken advantage of the Government’s Job Retention Scheme and furloughed 3 members of staff (Nicky, Jo and Theresa). This relieved some financial pressure, but equally meant there was only Karen and Lyn to handle your queries, orders and other matters. Whilst there were no new events to deal with, there is still lots to do and if replies have not been as speedy as in the past please do bear with us.
Closing WI House to both staff and members was a vital step in reducing to a minimum all costs associated with the house. However, as anyone with property knows, there are always ongoing costs that do not disappear. At best, we have been able to postpone expenditure such as maintenance of the heating and ventilation system. However, such items will need to be carried out before the House is used by members and staff.
Tough decisions have and are being made on an almost daily basis. As you will know, the Spring Council Meeting did not take place in March. I do not think BoT were alone in thinking things would be back to normal by July, so a date for the postponed meeting of September looked to be quite sensible. Now we are questioning what the “new normal” will actually look like.
As I look to the end of the HCFWI financial year in 2 months’ time, the only certainty I have is that we will make a deficit, which will be eye watering when compared with our small and large surpluses of the last 10 years. More worrying is the absence of membership subscriptions until May or June 2021 and little or no event activity. However, the Federation will continue to do all it can to support the Hampshire WIs though the good offices of our WI Advisers, through the provisioning of insurance, the production of a magazine (online until the publisher can support a hard copy version), updating for changes in Officers at your WIs, and the numerous other ways the Federation keeps in touch and assists where possible.
Government guidance guides what we can and cannot do. Unfortunately, the Government Guidance does not always appear totally straightforward. Equally, there are legal obligations with bookings for venues. If a venue cannot accommodate the users requirements in line with Government Guidance then they must cancel and either repay any deposit or put that to a future event. If the Federation cancels then any deposit is payable. It gets a little complicated!
The sharp-eyed amongst you will note I have not quoted any financial figures. This is because of the still fluid situation.
I hope the above gives you a little flavour of the issues facing myself as Federation Treasurer and the other members of the Board of Trustees.
In case any WI or its officers and members are wondering what you could do to help the Federation, I would suggest some of the following:
Thank you for reading this and I hope to see some of you either at an online event, but hopefully back at some of our usual venues and events.
On behalf of the NFWI Board of Trustees, it is with great sadness that we announce the proposal to close Denman permanently.
The WI is a democratic, social and educational charity and gives members the opportunity to build new skills, make new friends and be inspired. We encourage members to take part in a wide variety of activities and to campaign on issues that matter to them and their Communities. WIs meet once a month.
Don't miss out on your opportunity to win a major prize and help raise funds for HCFWI at the same time. Click here for an Application Form.