At the start of our meeting on January 10th we discussed two resolutions, one of which will eventually go before the National AGM in Cardiff this year. The wording of the first resolution is as follows:- The NFWI notes with concern the continuing decline of our high streets and the damaging effect this has on local communities. We call on every member of the WI to support their local shops and make the high street their destination of choice for goods and services. We call on decision-makers to work collectively, at all levels, to help bring an end to the decline of our high streets and to ensure that high streets flourish and provide a focal point for local communities. Most of our members seemed to be in broad agreement with this. Personally I feel that people will not be lured back to the local shops until the experience is made as positive and convenient as shopping in a supermarket. The other resolution was shorter:- The NFWI urges WI members to work with all sectors of society in partnership to keep young people suicide safe online. Naturally everyone was concerned about children being exposed to this type of web site without some sort of protection, but what action to take is not an easy question to answer. Perhaps we should take comfort from the fact that suicide levels among young people are very low and also that writing online content with the intention of making anyone commit suicide already carries a potential 14-year prison sentence. This year we are being asked to vote for our preferred resolution on individual forms and these will be forwarded to the Suffolk East Federation office.

Our speaker this month was Mr Graham Denny from the BASIC charity shops. These shops are run by a Christian-based organization – the acronym stands for Business And Service In Christ – and this more or less sums up what they are attempting to do. Besides raising money – they helped an old lady who needed £120 for new glasses and a man who could not afford to buy his children’s school uniforms – they try to provide interaction with people who are going through a difficult period in their lives. Recently they also paid for four children from London who had not seen the sea to spend a holiday in Felixstowe and through their international account provided £6000 to aid victims of the Boxing Day Tsunami.

Mr Denny used to run a shipping company but, with his ex-wife Angela, got the idea of using a defunct dry-cleaners next to Safeways to raise money for charity. When Morrisons took over they were ejected and so moved next-door-but-one to Argos. They also have a shop in Walton. Only the best things they receive are put on sale, the rest go to be recycled which also raises a certain amount of money. Second-hand books are always worth checking: one sold for £80. Having been to an auction and seen how it was done Mr Denny decided to hold one himself and made £1100!

V. E. Bines


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