Ely Woman's Institute


Spring is finally in the air, and, for some; it is in their step! Nights are drawing out and new beginnings are blossoming. With lots to look forward to we are all hoping that from here on we can all go at a steady pace and return to ‘normal’ – whatever that may be! Not least of all, members of Ely City WI and; as the time approaches for us to renew our WI membership, we are very much looking forward to new starts, new adventures, new projects and new friends.

If the pandemic showed us nothing else, it showed how communities became stronger together. How people rallied around for one another and how the smallest of gestures can make the biggest of impacts. We are all familiar with the ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ iconic image which has become a popular moniker over time, and similarly; so has the Women’s Institute. The WI.

Formed in the UK in 1915 the WI was originally brough to live to revitalise rural communities and encourage women to become more involved in producing food during the First World War. Since then, a mere 107 years later, the WI is now the largest voluntary women’s organisation in the UK.

Inspiring women for over a century you can guarantee that everyone has heard of the WI. But do they know what it does? What it means? Who it’s for? With so much to look forward to, Ely City WI want to continue to inspire our members and to reach out to our wider community too. We are justifiably proud of our WI and have members, of all ages and backgrounds who come together to have fun, make friends and make a difference.

President Sheila radiates excitement and says that she is “very proud and deeply honoured to be President”. With a responsibility for running the monthly meetings and more besides, Sheila explains “I encourage our members to suggest ideas, initiatives and projects we as a WI might like to create, develop, contribute or explore.  Our WI is so much more than the 11 meetings a year: we are flourishing, developing, expanding and by joining us, you never know what you might achieve”.

With connections in and around the city, and our finger on the local pulse, Ely City WI is a welcoming group. Whether you have lived here for a long time, or have recently moved to the area, joining us is the start of a journey of discovery and a chance for you to get involved.

But what do our members say?

I have been a WI member for 22 years. My mother and grandmother were both presidents of the WI when I was growing up, so it was inevitable that I would become a member sooner or later”.

We come from all different backgrounds with different sets of skills. I joined the WI as I thought that a group of women meeting has to be fun and I was right!”

Since lockdown, Ely City WI has gone from strength to strength. Able to keep in touch virtually and also by connecting via the monthly ‘Smile’ newsletters; the Committee have worked hard to keep that momentum going and to ensure that as face to face activities resumed, no one was left behind. With the wonderful amenities of the beautiful city of Ely on the doorstep, there is a varied programme of events which take place, with ample opportunity for everyone to enjoy something.

Anything goes. From coffee mornings to afternoon teas, from bowls to craft bombs, from photography sessions to jigsaw mornings; we pride ourselves on being a trusted place for all women to share experiences and learn from one another.

I have not been with the WI for long, but long enough to know that I did the best thing by joining.

I moved to Ely about 12 years ago and as I work full time in Cambridge have not had the chance to go out so didn’t know too many people in Ely, but after plucking up the courage I joined up and now I feel like I have an extended family”.

With many exciting plans for the coming year; including group projects, events, fundraising and socialising, Ely City is at the helm of driving forward a supportive female network.

I first joined the WI in the 1980’s, with 2 young children when we started a second group in the town, inviting the Grannies to look after the children while the mums enjoyed adult conversation, – WI life has changed a bit since then!  

Due to work commitments, I had a long break from WI but most definitely received a warm welcome at my first meeting here at Ely City. It was just like coming home!”

We cannot forget though how the WI set out to give its members a voice and to be a force of good in the community. Since its formation, our ambitions have grown and there are many chances to be involved in the various campaigns, on a wide range of issues; which are spearheaded by our national organisation.

I really enjoy being part of Ely City WI, there is so much going on, so many great people to get to know and lots of wonderful activities and initiatives to be involved in.  It’s ultimately about friendship, having fun and learning…. Which ticks every box for me!

Our members really are fantastic, and the WI is everything each individual wants it to be.  Belonging to the WI gives me the opportunity to make friends and discover shared interests and participate in events that I perhaps would never have even considered previously!  I can be a part of something that is able to make a difference and to add my voice to campaigns not only within our local community but also on a national level.”

So, why not start this season by coming along as a visitor to one or two of our meetings to see what we’re all about? Swing into spring and start your new beginning with us.

We would love to meet you.

Just drop us a line and we will make sure one of our many friendly faces is ready to greet you! With raffles, competitions, tea and biscuits; why not do something different? Bring a friend and start your WI journey with Ely City.

You can visit our website: https://wielycity.wixsite.com/home or find us on Facebook just search Ely City WI). You can also email us at elycitywi@yahoo.com

We are Ely City WI. We are. We can. We do.

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