A (slightly belated!) Happy New Year from the Hackney Wicked Women President, Chloe

Yes, I know it’s already February, but here’s to a fantastic 2017 for all you Wickeimg_20170111_192941_304d 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 img_20170129_161608_865much 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!).

Here’s to an amazing year!  See you soon…

Chloe, Hackney Wicked Women WI President



October 2016: Sustainability and Climate Change with Divest Hackney

Last month, as part of the WI’s ‘Speak Up Week of Action‘ we invited Athene and Martin from Divest Hackney to discuss sustainability and climate change.
Athene from Divest Hackney


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?

Martin from Divest Hackney

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.

For example:

  • 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!

If you are interested in getting involved, feel free to send us an email to divesthackney@gmail.com. 

Our petition is still going strong and we are happy about every signature! You can find it at campaigns.gofossilfree.org/petitions/divest-hackney-council-from-fossil-fuels

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

June 2016: Suffragette Walking Tour


Reported by Elaine Shotbolt, HWW Treasurer.

Welcome,Wicked Women, to my first ever blog!

On Wed 1st June after a day of heavy downpours the sun came out- hooray!

We followed in the footsteps of the Suffragettes around Bow. We heard about these wonderful women and the work they did to help the poor and starving families, and to make a difference to their lives.

Our guides Becca and Lora Su led us along the way taking in the landmarks {or not!} and what had happened there.

We were joined by five guests including my colleague Cathie and her friend Alice- thank you ladies.
We all had a wonderful evening and enjoyed snacks from the lovely Niki and quiz gifts too. Enjoy the books ladies and look forward to seeing you again!

HWW Member & Treasurer Elaine x

If you’d like to do the walk yourself around East London, download our Walking in the footsteps of our Suffragette Sisters guide and map with added quiz questions 🙂

Meet The Team: Chloe Higgins, 2016 WI President


What do you do in the committee?

I’m the newly appointed President, and I am (according to the WI rules) the face of our WI.  I think this means I just have to be nice to everyone that comes in!

Ably assisted by my lovely committee I also help plan our meetings, and generally boss everyone around a bit to try and keep us organised!

Why did you want to join a WI?

I moved to London a few years ago and wanted to make new friends.  I love a bit of crafting, and although I’m not a great baker I do love eating cake so the WI seemed like a good place to start.

I’d read an article in the Evening Standard about the new East End WIs and how they were much younger and more ‘hipster’ than the traditional image of the WI so I plucked up the courage to give it a go!

What’s your fave moment with Hackney Wick WI so far?

I’ve enjoyed everything, although I think football and yoga in the park last summer might have been particular highlights – although mainly as we were outside on lovely summer evenings rather than because I discovered any great skills with a ball or a downward dog!

What’s the least fave? 

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it all.  I didn’t win at bingo at Christmas though we was disappointing for my super-competitive streak that seems to come out every time we play games or do quizzes…

Outside of WI, what do you get up to?

I’ve become a vaguely enthusiastic runner recently, which helps to make up for the fact I also really enjoy drinking craft ale by the canals and parks in the area!  I’m also quite obsessed with knitting, and also love to get my sewing machine out every so often (I am a WI girl after all!)

Favourite tipple?

Craft ale or gin.

Your favourite thing about being a woman?

Women’s clothes, shoes and bags are WAY better than mens.  And I do love to buy clothes, shoes and bags…

Your least favourite thing about being a woman?

Patronising men who refer to the admin team I work in (who are the indispensable core support to the company) as ‘the girls in the office’.  This is not the 1970s!  We are women doing an incredibly important job!

What would you like to see for women in Hackney Wick/the WI the future? 

New people joining us!

Favourite places in and around Hackney Wick?

  • Victoria Park and the canals for running or wandering
  • Counter Cafe for delicious brunch
  • Howling Hops for great beer brewed on site
  • The local supermarket on Felstead Street for more different kinds of quinoa than you every imagined you could need amongst tins of beans and packets of sugar.

There are a load of new things opening up across the canal in what was the Olympic Media Centre which I’m excited to try out too…


October: Mindfulness with City and Hackney Mind


In October, City and Hackney Mind joined Hackney Wicked Women to tell us about the City and Hackney Wellbeing Network, and introduce us to Mindfulness.  Their digital team kindly agreed to answer some questions for our blog too.

Hello, my name is Josie and, along with Hebba and Laura, we make up the Online Communications Team here at City and Hackney Mind. We work with City and Hackney Mind and the Wellbeing Network websites, as well as the Twitter and Facebook accounts. 

Tell us a little bit about mindfulness, for those that are new to it.

Mindfulness is a great way of taking a pause from the hassle and stress of everyday life.

It’s a simple technique of focusing on the environment around you to avoid getting caught up with worries and anxiety. Scientific evidence has indicated that Mindfulness can enhance mental wellbeing, reduce stress and increase concentration.

Our campaign, ‘Take a Pause’,  aims to encourage Hackney residents to use mindfulness as a way of lowering stress and anxiety levels. 

You can read about Helen’s experience of mindfulness, to get more of an idea of what it involves, and whether you might be interested. Here’s a five minute mindfulness practice, if you want to try it out for yourself.

How can people use mindfulness in everyday life?

Mindfulness can be practised at any time of day, wherever you are. It can be a great way to start the day, but it can also relax and de-stress people when everything might be feeling overwhelming.

Through visiting our ‘Take a Pause’ page people can access free information, online resources and more practical support such as the mindfulness group sessions we run and also mindfulness yoga.

Tell us a bit about the project for Hackney residents..

The Wellbeing Network  launched earlier this year as a way to help people from Hackney and the City of London improve their resilience and wellbeing, and help prevent the onset of mental health problems. In addition to this, the Network supports service users with severe mental health conditions to improve their quality of life.

How can you apply or find out more about mindfulness and other activities or sessions?

Anyone can find out more about mindfulness sessions by visiting chwellbeingnetwork.london to look at what’s on offer or upcoming sessions.

Alternatively, ring our friendly Single Point of Entry team, who will be happy to point you in the right direction for any courses you might want to access, on 020 8525 2301.

We also have a new addition to our network – Studio Upstairs. They offer creative groups in which people can explore and express their emotions through art or drama. To find out more you can go to our website: chwellbeingnetwork.london.

You can follow City and Hackney Mind on Twitter and Facebook, or visit their website for more news and updates.

Find out more about the City and Hackney Wellbeing Network on their website.

Hackney Wick FC Football lesson – reported by Lauren, WI treasurer

wi 1

In May this year,  the Wicked Women took on the newly formed Hackney Wick Football Club (aka ‘the Wickers’) for a lesson in all things football at Victoria Park in Hackney.

We kicked things off (quite literally) with some ‘warm up’ exercises and attempted to get to know the footballer inside of us all… A struggle for most of us.


Under careful supervision of our coach soon we were all ducking and diving and header-ing like pros – with a few sore heads. The Wickers decided at the end that to instill some rivalry in the WI (we’re all way too nice) we should go head to head in a mini (exhausting) football match!

It was a close call between blues and yellows but with the help of bend it like beckham-esque pro Anna Baker the blues raced to victory at 2-0.

wi 2

The wicked women reconciled at the end over orange slices provided by the lovely Lora (we’re real pros), sweaty and tired but having enjoyed an amazing evening in the sun learning some new skills. We also got to show off our personalised bunting made by member Elaine’s own fair hands. Elaine has since made bunting for the football club, which makes an appearance at their games.

Following our football lesson, the HWFC manager Bobby was inspired to start free women’s football lessons, and subsequently a women’s team!

Watch Bobby’s interview on London Live TV where he mentions the Hackney Wicked Women.

Follow @HackneyWickFC for regular updates and training schedules!

(Downward) dogging in the park – June’s yoga session

Our newest committee member Chloe shares this month’s meet up activity:


I headed off to our June meeting with a slight sense of apprehension, as the activity was yoga.  In the park.  In the British summer.  The week had started cold, grey and windy, and I’ve never been a big fan of the chloeidea of yoga.


I’d done bits in the past, but I’m not a very, um, relaxed person and have a tendency to giggle when people tell me to be quite and calm.  Also, I was aware of the concept of the ‘downward dog’ and the idea of sticking my bum in the air in public wasn’t that appealing…


How wrong was I!  The sun came out, the wind dropped, and it turns out when a nice, calming voice tells me to concentrate on breathing and ignore the people playing football and listening to music loudly, I can actually forget my surroundings and think about the odd positions I was putting my limbs in and relax whilst doing so!


I wouldn’t claim to be a yoga expert, but I certainly felt nicely stretched out and chilled by the end.  I think that the few moments of silence once we had finished demonstrated that we all felt the same (although shortly after that everyone was up and chatting away as usual)…


And here are Vice presidents Lora Su and Niki yogain their matching MC hammer pants.


Thanks to Pippa Knott for leading our practice.


Follow us on Twitter for news on our next meet up, and other events with Hackney Wicked Women.