The new Manchester Women's Institute would make Emmeline Pankhurst proud

PUBLISHED: 11:00 13 August 2012 | UPDATED: 21:43 20 February 2013

Manchester Women’s Institute committee members

Manchester Women’s Institute committee members

Members of the new Manchester Women's Institute would make Emmeline Pankhurst proud WORDS BY EMMA MAYOH PHOTOGRAPHY BY KIRSTY THOMPSON

City centres arent the natural habitat for a thriving Womens Institute. The long-established society is usually found at the heart of village life. But in Manchester, dozens of women have signed up to be involved with a new group.

Twenty-four year-old Lucy Adams and Alexandra Taylor, 23, the young founders of the new Manchester Womens Institute, could not believe their eyes when 85 women double the amount the room would hold turned up to their first meeting at Chethams School of Music in April. Lucy, president of the group, said: We were so overwhelmed. The room was for 40 people. We just could not believe how many women wanted to be involved. It was absolutely amazing.

It made us realise that it had been something that had been long overdue in our city centre. We were so excited.

Numbers and the pairs enthusiasm has not dwindled. Neither knew each other before but they were both passionate about the project. Lucy wanted to share and celebrate the traditional skills passed on to her by her gran, Dorothy Ashley. Alexandra wanted a way to meet more women in the city.

Alexandra, vice president, said: It is about bringing the village and that feeling of community to the city. When you live in a busy place like Manchester you tend to go home, close the door to your flat and then
not see people until the next day when you go to work.

In a village youd run into neighbours and talk to people. I see so many women in Manchester but I never get the chance to speak to them. I wanted a place where you could meet like-minded women and learn things from one another.

Members range from 18 to over 60 but the average age is between 20 and 35. The majority of members are working professionals, from lawyers and media experts to fashion merchandisers and council workers. The traditional pursuits you might expect from a WI are covered with activities including sewing, baking and hat competitions. But they also have feminist speakers and plans to have a Lindy hop.

For the next International Womens Day, scheduled for March next year, they have invited speakers to talk about everything from Emmeline Pankhurst and the Suffragette movement to modern women and their success stories..

Lucy said: We wanted to celebrate women and we hope this is what were doing through the WI. The suffragettes protested for the right for women to vote and they were from Manchester. What these women did was phenomenal and they inspired many, many women.

As a WI we want to look at the heritage of the impact women have made. Being a WI located in the home of this movement we want to celebrate everything that women have achieved and are still achieving.
We hope that getting different women together, we will also inspire each other.

Lucy and Alexandra, who employed local artist Jack Boulton to design the groups kooky logo of a tattooed Victorian woman to symbolise their modern approach, are determined to make the Manchester Womens Institute a success.

Alexandra said: The WI is 100-years-old and we are so proud to be a part of that history. We want the group to grow and grow. This is just the beginning.

We are so excited and are full of ideas. We already have plans for the next 12 months and we cant wait to start coming up with more. We want the group to be a place where Manchester women want to spend their time. We cant wait.

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