Happy 2018 to all our inspiring, brave and incredible women.
In case you missed it, check out Catherine Hufton’s piece from the Telegraph from last month, where our Secretary and food enthusiast Sophie talks about Hackney Wicked Women’s recent speakers and local community events.
Since we last posted on here, we’ve had a few changes on the Wicked Women committee, so new people to help plan awesome meetings for our lovely members, and undertake various admin duties that the WI Federation ask of us! After our long-standing secretary Charlie stood down earlier on in the year in order to focus more on producing her adorable new future WI guest (even though he’s a boy – men can come to meetings too!), baby Charlie, Sophie volunteered to take the reins (and Charlie’s massive ringbinder of paperwork). Here we get the lowdown on what the WI and life as a woman in East London means to her…
What do you do in the committee?
I’m the secretary, which means I am drowned in post from the Federation but more interestingly I help promote and publicise the WI.
Why did you want to join a WI?
I’d moved into the area with my boyfriend and wanted to meet some local people. Hackney Wicked Women looked like a group of interesting, cool women so I thought I could bring down the average a bit!
What’s your fave moment with Hackney Wick WI so far?
Marbling was probably my favourite activity. Not to say I was any good at it but very fun nonetheless and my friend got an excellent birthday card out of it.
Outside of WI, what do you get up to?
I love food so if I’m not eating I’m planning meals, going to restaurants or making some new absurd pickle or bread.
Most things with gin. Or just gin. Different types of gin.
Did I mention gin?
Your favourite thing about being a woman?
I love having the flexibility to do pretty much anything I want without judgement, men don’t really get to wear a skirt without a little side eye – I could wear dungarees one day and a silk frock the next. For me it’s the opportunity for constant reinvention.
Your least favourite thing about being a woman?
What would you like to see for women in Hackney Wick/the WI the future?
To keep its own unique vibe that makes it different from anywhere else in the U.K. or London.
Yes, I know it’s already February, but here’s to a fantastic 2017 for all you Wicked Women out there! We’ve already started the year with abang, with a spirited debate about We should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and feminism in general. We also celebrated Vice-President Niki’s birthday with cake (in true WI fashion).
2016 was my first year as president of our merry band of women, and I hope you all enjoyed it as much as me. We had beer tasting, flower arranging, craft Olympics and much more, finishing the year with a bang as we all made our own felt vagina Christmas decorations. Much hilarity all round!
The meeting that stayed with me the longest was our session in October on Climate Change and Sustainability with Athene and Martin from Divest Hackney. They really made me think about taking personal responsibility for the environment. I’ve since changed to a 100% green energy supplier, started trying to cut down on my meat consumption (hampered slightly by living with a committed carnivore, but I do the shopping and cooking so it’s happening by stealth!) and making an effort to holiday just as much but fly less this year (so far my first trip of the year is going to be by Eurostar to Paris).
The committee has since been hard at work planning meetings, film nights and quizzes for the year ahead. We’ve got inspirational female speakers, gardening, comedy and much more to come. April is our AGM where members get the chance to vote in the new committee and join the committee themselves if you want to have your say in how we run the Wicked Women going forward. If you aren’t already a member now is the time to join – membership is just £39 for the full year, which gets you access to all our meetings and a copy of WI Life each month (which we know isn’t the most exciting read but it has good puzzles!).
So Athene and Martin, tell us a bit about yourselves and what you do in Divest Hackney…
Martin: I have been involved in the Divest Hackney campaign for about a year and a half. One of the main things I have been doing is liaising with the council on the importance of the financial argument for why divestment makes sense.
Athene: And I got involved with Divest Hackney in November last year. I’ve mainly been involved with the outreach side of things – holding workshops/talks in schools and at science events to raise awareness as well as helping out with other general things, like petitioning, banner-making, etc….
How did you get in to Divest Hackney, and what was your talk at HWW about?
Athene: I’m doing a PhD at King’s College, which itself has an active divestment campaign and as climate change is a cause I care deeply about, I was very keen to get involved with a local group. A friend from the King’s divestment campaign then put me in touch with Divest Hackney.
Martin: I met Gabriel, who is one of our lead campaigners, at the Global Divestment day in 2015, found out we both lived in Hackney and both decided to get more involved with the campaign. We were really happy to have the opportunity to talk to the Hackney Wicked WI – it’s important to engage people and get them involved at a grassroots level.
Athene: Our talk was split into three parts:
The bad news about climate change and the multitude of environmental and economical effects it is having on the world and is expected to have in the immediate future.
The positive steps that are being taken at a global and individual level to mitigate the effects of climate change, with some tips on what individuals can do.
The concept of divestment, which means taking assets out of the fossil fuel industry, and explained the power of this movement on a global level, as well as about the progress of our local campaign with Hackney council.
So, how can we be more mindful about climate change and sustainability moving forward?
Athene: I think there’s already a great deal of general awareness about climate change and the disastrous effects it entails, but that doesn’t always translate into action due to the stresses of everyday life. I think it’s really important that steps are taken on both an individual level and at a structural level, and people can do a lot to support both processes.
switching to a green energy provider, which is fast and inexpensive, can cut your carbon footprint by up to 50%!
shopping locally and ethically
using more green transport options such as bikes and trains.
Equally, it’s really important that individuals put pressure on politicians, public bodies and businesses to act in line with the Paris Agreement of last year and support local divestment campaigns.
Martin: There are lots of great online resources available for people to find out about things you can do in your day-to-day life if you are interested in making a difference about climate change.
There are lots of amazing materials online from recycling, to switching your energy provider. If you are interested in divestment specifically, http://gofossilfree.org/uk/ is an excellent website where you can find out about local campaigns, how to get involved and how to make sure your pension isn’t invested in fossil fuels!
Local councils are starting to go fossil free, and here’s how The campaign to divest local councils from fossil fuels is making waves. The overwhelming majority of …
So, tell us a bit about Hackney’s project specifically.
Athene: Divest Hackney has been going since February 2015 and is calling on Hackney Council to divest the £42 million they have invested in the fossil fuel industry through their pension fund.
The campaign has grown a lot since then, with huge support from the local community and we have come quite far in liaising with the councillors to pass a divestment motion. The overall response from the pension committee has been positive and we are hopeful that steps towards divestment will be taken.
However, at the supposed decision day in October, action was deferred until January due to the possibility of countrywide pooling of pension fund assets. So it’s still really important that we maintain pressure on the council until then and grow our support networks.
How can people apply or find out more?
Our campaign is totally open for anyone to join and we are also happy to put people in touch with other local London campaigns if you don’t live in Hackney.
We meet every Monday at 7:30pm at the Market Café on Broadway Market and there are lots of things people get involved with according to their interests and how much free time they have!
Frack Off London and Divest London, which are affiliated campaigns, are holding an event this Saturday 28th October to peacefully protest Barclay’s involvement in fracking at Golden Square in Soho – the more people turn up, the stronger the message! You can find details for the event on Facebook
You can follow Divest Hackney’s news and upcoming events on
This year we couldn’t wait to get involved in Hackney Wicked festival, as fellow Wicked Women committee member Amy Tandy writes…
Arguably the biggest day in the social calendar for Hackney Wick, Hackney Wicked festival brings together residents, artists and businesses of Hackney Wick in one big weekend of music, craft food and fun. Once again, we turned our hands to baking-this time with great success, selling cookies and scones like they were hot cakes. We also whipped out our GIANT knitting needles, to start making a giant WI blanket…a challenging refresher from our knitting lesson back in March.
We got lots of attention (albeit mainly bemused looks) but it was a great way to meet new people. Some passers by mentioned how ‘novice’ our knitting was… and we only felt *slightly* intimidated by the professional knitting stall ten feet away who were selling knitted cacti.
We were more than pleased with knitting our big blanket and small … squares?
We took it in turns to leave the stall and go and make friends around the festival site. We sampled some great food from the German Deli, and of course enjoyed a Crate beer or two…
Thanks so much to the organisers and other stall holders at Hackney Wicked 2014 – we had a great time!