Our inspirational women!

Its International Women’s Day and to mark it we decided to share a few of our committee’s inspirational women. Some you know, some you won’t but hopefully they will inspire you to think about those women that inspire you.

J K Rowling


“Anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.”

As inspiring women go, Joanne Kathleen Rowling has to be one of the top ones of our times. She is a global phenomenon, creating not only the Harry Potter universe but also best-selling adult fiction, under her own name and the pen name of Robert Galbraith. But it’s not only her talent that inspires, it’s her strong beliefs and refusal to let the internet trolls take her down – during the run up to the Scottish referendum, she faced a huge torrent of abuse online for siding with the No vote and donation to the campaign. As a resident of Edinburgh for many years, she was well within her rights to do so and admirably handed the criticism that was sent her way. An avid Twitter user, she regularly tweets in support of various campaigns, such as in praise of the NHS and the welfare state – indeed, she has stated that without the benefits she received as a single mother in the nineties, she wouldn’t have been able to write Harry Potter at all. Also she set up her own charity foundation, is heavily involved in various other charities and has written new fiction on numerous occasions for events like Comic Relief, like ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ – which has recently been made into a film. She often can be found tweeting to her fans and gives them pearls of wisdom that must mean the world to them, making her seem down to earth which is incredible given her huge level of fame. As an author, political activist and philanthropist, Rowling is an inspiration of what can be achieved and obstacles overcome along the way.

Alice Raby

Anita Roddick

“If you do thinp01my3t3gs well, do them better. Be daring, be first, be different, be just.”

When I had to choose my A levels there was only one subject I wanted to take, which was Business Studies and Anita Roddick was the reason why. She was the founder of the Body Shop at a time when cosmetic companies weren’t known for their ethical consciences. The combination of needing to find employment to support her family while her husband was off trekking the Americas and a wealth of alternative cosmetic experience from travelling around the world led to her opening her own green cosmetics shop, the Body Shop. Design took a back seat to moral decisions, customers were guided towards making choices that benefited the planet rather than just their own well-being. Banning ingredients tested on animals, pushing towards recycling and reusing packaging, promoting Fair Trade. Her advertising focussed largely on the many perceptions of beauty away from the western world, seeing age as an asset instead of hiding the wrinkles from her customers.

I used to love going into the Body Shop in Reading near where I lived. It was the opposite of what all the other girls at school were going for; where they had pineapple perm hairdos I had naturally dyed, long black hair. I distinctly remember the green avocado goo that I thought was the best thing for my acne ridden skin. I loved that as I went through the door I wasn’t bombarded with perfume spray and bright lights; instead I enjoyed the green of the shelves and the ethnic music playing in the background.

Anita Roddick made all this happen, with determination. She steered her little shop to become a worldwide chain of shops that can now be found in nearly every town in the western world and many others besides. Although Anita sold the shops in the end before her death in 2007 the brand continues to follow her moral compass.

Anita proved that you can still be ethical in the business world, that you can stick to your guns and fight for what you believe whilst still being successful in your field.

And although you can’t still refill their packaging (which was always messy!) I still feel the same about the Body Shop, as long as they continue as they started.

Jayne Wallace

Emma Watson


The incredible Emma Watson is a personal hero of mine. An actress, model and activist, Emma shot to stardom at just 11 years old as Hermione in the Harry Potter films, and last year established herself as a feminist icon as UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and the launch of the HeForShe campaign which calls on men to advocate women’s equality. If you haven’t seen her powerful speech at the UN in January 2015 check it out.

“Girls should never be afraid to be smart.” – Emma Watson

Emma has spoken openly about the importance of self-determination, defying sexist stereotypes, pushing through fears, and believing in, and being, yourself. Emma has pursued goals aligned with her values through her work with the Fair Trade fashion brand People Tree, promotion of girls education, and is a certified yoga and meditation teacher to top it all off! Emma has faced the challenges of growing up in the public eye, and more recently, anti-feminist criticism, with strength and grace.

Named in the Times 100 Most Influential People of 2015, Jill Abramson, former editor of the New York Times, noted Emma’s “gusty and smart” take on feminism. A powerful role model, Emma has sparked a new generation of discussion on feminism and equality.

Emma Watson continues her work promoting equality through her recently launched feminist book club: Our Shared Shelf

Kate Stuart

The everyday women … and Miss Piggy!

There are a few women in work and at home that have inspired me over the years and have influenced who I have become as a woman.

Firstly my Mum, she is an independent woman. As a child I grew up with a Mum who would think nothing of changing a plug, re-decorating a room over the weekend, and generally just getting on with it. It took many years for me to realise that not all Mums did this, she did what some friends still call “Dad” jobs. To me she is an independent woman who just gets on with it, and this has definitely inspired me and given me the confidence to do the same.

Secondly, a line manager from many years ago. Working in relatively male dominate industry she would not be walked over, she would speak her mind and, equally important to me, she would dress like a woman. She never felt the need to wear a trouser suit badly or blend-in with the men, it was heels and dresses all the way. She made me realise that you do not need to change your style or approach, you just need to have the confidence to stick to your guns.

At the SDCC 2015 Muppets panel

And finally,  a muppet has been an inspiration to me since I was a little girl: Miss Piggy. Possibly the earliest feminist I came into contact with, she knew her mind, voiced her opinion and didn’t let anything stand in her way. Not being the traditional looking woman (as a pig!), she forged her way through 1970s Hollywood and I hope she made girls realise they could be and look however they want. It may seem odd to be inspired by a muppet but behind the puppet someone created this character who continues to inspire girls and women.

Katrina Kemp


NFWI Resolutions Shortlist 2016 – Resolution Number 8: Appropriate care in hospitals for people with dementia

In the final NFWI resolution to be presented to Sotonettes members for ballot, provision of carers for hospital patients with dementia is debated.


Sotonettes members are entitled to vote on this issue; for more information, click here, or download a handy booklet here. Or visit our Facebook page!

“We call upon HM government and the NHS to provide facilities to enable carers to stay with people with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia that have been admitted into hospital.”

Proposer’s position

The proposer’s intention is to improve the hospital care of those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia (but who may have been admitted to hospital for an unrelated condition) by calling for hospitals to provide facilities to enable their carer to stay with them for the duration of their hospitalisation.  This, the proposer argues, will improve the health and wellbeing of patients both with and without dementia, reduce long-term financial burdens on the NHS, and ensure that institutional dementia care is person-centred.

Outline of the issue

Dementia is a syndrome that can be caused by variety of progressive mental disorders. This syndrome can impair cognitive processes such as memory, spatial orientation, and language skills, compromise someone’s ability to perform every day activities, and alter their behaviour and mood. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, but is by no means the only one and symptoms of dementia are varied, complex, and sometimes difficult to diagnose. There are 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia and that number is expected to rise to over a million in just five years.[1]

Dementia is a local, national, and global health crisis, affecting more people than cancer, heart disease, or stroke. It is the leading cause of death among women and one in three people who die after the age of 65 have it.[2] In the UK twenty-one million people have a close friend or relative who has the syndrome and 550,000 people in the UK care for someone with it. Women are two and a half times more likely than men to become carers for someone with dementia.[3] Globally there is a new case of dementia every four seconds and by 2020 there will be seventy million people worldwide living with the condition.

Dementia costs in the UK total £19 billion per annum and, according to the King’s Fund, total dementia spending will reach £35 billion by 2026.[4] Its emotional and intangible cost to carers and loved ones is immeasurably devastating. It is not an overstatement to say that dementia is the health crisis of our time.

Dementia Care in Hospitals

 The pervasive and widespread reach of dementia means that dementia care will invariably be impacted by the wider health policy context and vice versa. Due to the National Dementia Vision for Wales (2011)[5], the National Dementia Strategy (2009)[6], the Prime Minister’s Dementia Challenge (2012)[7], and the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia 2020 (2015)[8] there is a greater awareness amongst health professionals, carers, and the wider public about the needs of people with dementia and an explicit recognition that dementia care must be a health and social care priority. Significant progress has been made over the past five years: fifty-nine per cent of dementia sufferers now receive a diagnosis and appropriate post-diagnosis support, over 500,000 care and hospital workers have received Tier 1 dementia training, and £50 million has been invested in dementia friendly environments in hospitals and care homes.

However, despite this investment and stated commitment to dementia friendly hospitals, hospital care for people with dementia remains a key area of concern, whether these patients are admitted because of their dementia or for another, ostensibly unrelated condition (although often those other conditions are germane to the dementia). Seventy-two per cent of people living with dementia also suffer from other conditions or disabilities, which means they are routinely admitted to general hospital wards in high numbers. Today over one-quarter of all hospital beds in the UK are occupied by a patient who has dementia.

The evidence base concerning the detrimental effects of a hospital stay for people with dementia is stark and concerning:

  • One third of people with dementia who are admitted to hospital for an unrelated condition never return to their own homes
  • Forty-seven per cent of people with dementia who go into hospital are physically less well when they leave than when they went in and fifty-four per cent are less well mentally[9]
  • People admitted to hospital for dementia stay in hospital longer, face the possibility of readmission more frequently, and are more likely to die in hospital than patients without dementia[10]
  • Fifty-four per cent of carers report that a stay in hospital has made the symptoms of dementia worse, resulting in the dementia sufferer becoming more confused and less independent

The evidence proves that a hospital stay for someone with dementia can often be catastrophic, despite the cure or resolution of their acute condition that prompted admission in the first place.

Since dementia sufferers are often admitted for an acute physical condition such as pneumonia or a fractured bone, dementia patients can typically be found in general medical and surgical wards where their carer is often not able to stay with them outside of traditional visiting hours. Since people with dementia can be distressed by being in unfamiliar surroundings, a stay in a busy, noisy, and confusing hospital ward without their carer present can be deeply unsettling for them and further cause their mental state to deteriorate. The patient loses the ability to have much-needed social interaction and family members often feel helpless because they are prevented from providing care for their loved ones. To compound this, nurses and doctors may be unaware that the patient even has dementia, so the patient’s additional dementia related needs are neglected.

Involving a family member or other trusted carer from admission into hospital until discharge has been proven to ensure a better quality of care and leads to improved outcomes for the patient. Yet, currently there is no obligation for hospitals to ensure that their patients with dementia have access to their carer whenever they need them. Carers are typically treated like visitors, constrained to normal visiting hours only. It remains up to each individual hospital to set their visiting hours policy.

The campaigning group John’s Campaign was launched last year by campaigner Nicci Gerrard after her father’s hospital experience completely accelerated his dementia. Even though the nurses and doctors provided excellent care for his acute condition, Nicci believes that the lack of care continuity and the inability of John’s caring family members to stay with him during his hospitalisation had a detrimental impact on his overall health. The campaign is calling for families and carers of people with dementia to have the same rights as parents of sick children, and be allowed to remain with their loved one in hospital for as long as they deem necessary. The campaign is calling for this to be a right, not a duty. Since the launch of the campaign, the Care and Support Minister wrote to the Chief Executives of all trusts asking them to allow carers to stay on the ward like parents and over one hundred hospitals and wards have publicly committed to making changes in order to allow carers to stay with their dementia patients. However, it still remains up to the individual hospital to decide its own policy to create a dementia friendly hospital.

Arguments for the resolution

  • It is clear from the evidence that not all hospitals have taken steps to be dementia friendly and vulnerable patients with dementia are suffering as a consequence. Now may be the time for the WI to urge more action to achieve the important goals set out in the Prime Minister’s Dementia Challenge to create dementia friendly spaces.
  • As this campaign does not call for a national right, but rather for facilities to enable carers to stay with patients, there is scope not only for the NFWI to lobby on the issue nationally, but for individual WIs to work with their local wards up and down the country to help hospitals voluntarily achieve the aims of the resolution. This approach can foster innovation in how hospitals create dementia friendly wards.
  • Just as the WI led the campaign for parents to be able to stay with their sick children in hospital with a 1950 resolution on that topic, the WI can again take the lead on transforming hospital care practices for the better.

Arguments against the resolution

  • John’s Campaign is already the established voice on this issue and due to this campaign hospitals are starting to adapt their practices for carers of people with dementia; is there really more for the WI to add?
  • Hospitals face a very challenging care climate at the moment, with the financial environment forcing hospitals to make difficult efficiencies. This resolution may be an unreasonable and unfeasible ‘ask’ at this time.
  • An unintended consequence of this resolution is that hospitals displace the burden of adequately caring for their dementia patients onto family members and carers. Not everyone has a carer, but every dementia patient deserves to be treated in a dementia friendly environment. Might this resolution lead to inequities in care further down the line?

Groups to contact for further information

John’s Campaign- for the right to stay with people with dementia in hospital

Nicci Gerrard and Sean French

57 Hemingford Road, London N11BY




The Alzheimer’s Society

Devon House, 58 St Katharine’s Way, London, E1W 1LB

Tel: 020 7423 3500



Twitter logo v small@alzheimerssoc


Alzheimer’s Research UK

3 Riverside. Granta Park, Cambridge CB21 6AD

Tel: 0300 111 5333



Twitter logo v small@ARUKnews


Carers UK

20 Great Dover Street, London SE1 4LX

Tel: 020 7378 4999



Twitter logo v small@CarersUK



[1] Living and Dying with Dementia in Wales: www.mariecurie.org.uk/globalassets/media/documents/policy/policy-publications/february-2015/living-and-dying-with-dementia-in-wales.pdf

[2] Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia 2020: www.gov.uk/government/publications/prime-ministers-challenge-on-dementia-2020/prime-ministers-challenge-on-dementia-2020

[3] Alzheimer’s Research UK: www.alzheimersresearchuk.org/about-dementia/facts-stats/10-things-you-need-to-know-about-the-impact-of-dementia/

[4] The King’s Fund: www.kingsfund.org.uk/sites/files/kf/field/field_publication_summary/future-trends-overview.pdf

[5] National Dementia Vision for Wales: gov.wales/docs/dhss/publications/110302dementiaen.pdf

[6]National Dementia Strategy: www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/168220/dh_094051.pdf

[7] Prime Minister’s Dementia Challenge 2012: www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/215101/dh_133176.pdf

[8] Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia 2020: www.gov.uk/government/publications/prime-ministers-challenge-on-dementia-2020/prime-ministers-challenge-on-dementia-2020#fnref:20

[9] Alzheimer’s Society, ‘Counting the Cost’: www.alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/download_info.php?fileID=787

[10] Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia 2020: www.gov.uk/government/publications/prime-ministers-challenge-on-dementia-2020/prime-ministers-challenge-on-dementia-2020#fnref:20

NFWI Resolutions Shortlist 2016 – Resolution Number 7: Avoid food waste, address food poverty

In the penultimate NFWI resolution to be presented to Sotonettes members for ballot, the allocation of surplus food from supermarkets is discussed.


Sotonettes members are entitled to vote on this issue; for more information, click here, or download a handy booklet here. Or visit our Facebook page!

“The WI calls on all supermarkets to sign up to a voluntary agreement to avoid food waste, thereby passing surplus food onto charities thus helping to address the issue of increasing food poverty in the UK.”

Proposer’s position

The proposer is concerned by the amount of edible food that is thrown away by supermarkets annually, especially in light of the growing numbers of people struggling to afford food, as well as the environmental consequences of food waste. The proposer’s intention is reduce food waste by supermarkets by encouraging them to redistribute surplus, usable food to charities and food banks. This would have the twin benefits of alleviating the growing problem of food poverty in the UK, as well as reducing the environmental footprint of wasted food production.

Outline of the issue

It is estimated that around 200,000 tonnes of edible surplus food is thrown away by supermarkets annually. Only two per cent of this is being collected and redistributed (with the remaining 98% turned into compost or energy, or disposed of in a landfill) – an amount that the House of Commons Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee classed as “pitifully small” in its 2015 report.[1] It is currently cheaper for retailers to dispose of food by anaerobic digestion or animal food as opposed to redistribution of food surpluses to charity, leading to a distortion in the waste management hierarchy.[2]

In its Feeding Britain report, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger and Food Poverty found that doubling this redistribution (which would still be only 4% of usable food) would save the voluntary sector £160 million over the course of this Parliament.[2] Most of the food that is currently distributed by the Trussell Trust has been donated by consumers – largely through collections at schools, churches and supermarkets-not supermarkets.[3]

The Department of Health defines food poverty as “the inability to afford, or to have access to, food to make up a healthy diet.”[4] The Trussell Trust estimates that from 2012-2013 they fed almost 350,000 people through their food banks (a significant increase from 128,000 of the previous 12 months).[5] Research by the Trussell Trust, FareShare and Tesco found that: 18% of people in the UK have suffered from some form of food poverty (including skipping meals, parents going without food to feed their children or relying on family or friends to provide food), and this rises to 21% for households with children; more than 80% of parents in food poverty worry that they will struggle to provide nutritious food for their children in the near future; and only a third of people currently suffering from food poverty expected their situation to improve in the coming year.[6]

From 2012-2013 WRAP examined the role that surplus food redistribution by supermarkets could have in the overall food waste reduction strategy, and in particular looked at possible barriers and potential solutions to food redistribution. The research found that while the tonnages of surplus food available in a store are small compared to whole supply chain, these volumes are still significant enough to have a measurable benefit to those in need. Additionally, it found significant barriers to delivering redistribution on a nationwide scale due to capacity and resource limitations within both charities and retailers.[7]

In the UK, there have been a number of voluntary initiatives between supermarkets and organisations to cut down on food waste by retailers. For instance, Tesco has recently introduced a new app for store managers to alert local charities to surplus food available for collection at the end of the day which it is piloting in 10 stores.[8] Tesco is also the only supermarket to publish its own independently assessed food waste data. Its most recent data (2014-2015) showed that while it had reduced the amount of food that it had thrown away (to 1%), it still had some way to go on food redistribution as 30,000 tonnes of that 55,400 tonnes was food that could otherwise have been eaten.[9] [10]

WRAP, in consultation with the retail industry amongst others, is currently developing the fourth Courtauld Commitment: Courtauld 2025 – a resource efficiency and waste reduction initiative.  Most of these initiatives however look at system-wide food waste reduction, with businesses sharing efficiency savings along supply chains, wasting less, and getting more value from unavoidable waste. Courtauld 2025 focuses on four themes: changing what we supply, changing how we supply, changing how we consume, and changing what we do with the waste and by-products throughout the life-cycle.[11] Food waste has not only an economic cost, but also an environmental one.  This is through the energy and resources used to produce the food, as well as the carbon emissions from transportation and methane emissions from landfill.

Arguments for the resolution

  • While food has been a longstanding concern for the WI, the NFWI has no mandate to address food poverty. This resolution would empower the NFWI nationally and WI members locally to lead on reducing food poverty.
  • In this current economic climate, we cannot afford to continue such wasteful practices where good food is wasted, families go hungry, and the environment suffers. Now may be the time for the WI to add its voice to those calling for innovation in not only how we eat food, but how we dispose of our food.
  • This resolution harkens back to the WI’s historic roots in food production and feeding the nation – it would be a fitting resolution to carry us into our second century.

Arguments against the resolution

  • The WI has already done significant work on food waste. Additionally, while national work on food poverty has not been possible due to a lack of mandate, a number of WIs have been working locally to support food banks. Is a national mandate necessary?
  • Is the voluntary approach that this resolution calls for the best approach? Consumers, advocates, and charities have already tried to voluntarily persuade supermarkets to address food waste, thus far with limited success. Should the WI call for legislative or mandatory action on this issue instead?

Groups to contact for further information


Second Floor, Blenheim Court, 19 George Street, Banbury OX16 5BH


Twitter logo v small@WRAP_UK



Unit 7 Deptford Trading Estate, Blackhorse Road, London SE8 5HY

Tel : 020 7394 2468



Twitter logo v small@FareShareUK


The Trussell Trust

Unit 9 Ashfield Trading Estate, Ashfield Rd, Salisbury, SP2 7HL

Tel:  01722 580 180



Twitter logo v small@TrussellTrust



[1] Food security DEFRA committee 2015 www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmselect/cmenvfru/703/703.pdf

[2] Feeding Britain, 2014 foodpovertyinquiry.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/food-poverty-feeding-britain-final.pdf

[3] Food banks and food poverty, 2014. researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN06657#fullreport

[4] DH Choosing a better diet: a food and health action plan, 2005 – quoted in Ibid.

[5] Food banks and food poverty, 2014. researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN06657#fullreport

[6] www.trusselltrust.org/resources/documents/Press/1-in-5-parents-struggling-to-feed-children.pdf

[7] www.wrap.org.uk/sites/files/wrap/Food%20Connection%20Programme%20Final%20Published%20Report.pdf

[8] www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jun/04/tesco-fareshare-charity-reduce-food-waste

[9] ‘Food Waste’ www.parliament.uk/briefingpapers/sn07045.pdf

[10] www.tescoplc.com/index.asp?pageid=17&newsid=1173

[11]  www.wrap.org.uk/content/courtauld-2025

NFWI Resolutions Shortlist 2016 – Resolution Number 6: Mind or body – equal funding for care

In the sixth of the NFWI resolutions to be presented to Sotonettes members for ballot, equal funding of care for people with poor mental health is debated.


Sotonettes members are entitled to vote on this issue; for more information, click here, or download a handy booklet here. Or visit our Facebook page!

“The National Federation of Women’s Institutes calls upon the government to ensure that the care of people with poor mental health receives funding and respect equal to that provided for people with physical health problems.”

Proposer’s position

The proposer is concerned about under-funding for mental health services, citing news reports of  mental health budget cuts, long delays for patients seeking treatment, and paucity of resources and research.  If the resolution is successful the proposer would like to see the WI campaign for shorter waiting times, more research into mental illness and its treatment, and more financial support for patients and families.

Outline of the issue

The Mental Health Policy Group – made up of the UK’s leading mental health NGOs – stated in its pre-Election manifesto that: ‘funding for mental health services has been cut in real terms for three years in a row. Mental health problems account for 23% of the total burden of disease. Yet despite the existence of cost-effective treatments they receive only 13% of NHS expenditure.’[1]

Demand for mental health services is on the increase, the Policy Group estimates two million more UK adults will have mental health problems by 2030. Significant numbers of the UK population have mental health problems that are never treated; suicide remains the leading cause of death for UK men under fifty, self-harm rates are amongst the highest in Europe, and more than one in ten women experience mental health problems during and after pregnancy.

Those with mental health problems often find them compounded with serious physical health challenges. Labelled one of the starkest health inequalities in our society, people with serious mental illness are at risk of dying, on average, 20 years prematurely. One in three of the 100,000 ‘avoidable deaths’ every year happen to people with mental health problems. Compared with the general population, people with serious mental illness experience: twice the risk of diabetes, three times the risk of dying from coronary heart disease, and over four times the overall risk of dying prematurely (aged under 50).

In 2011, the Government set out a strategy to improve mental health and wellbeing, ‘No Health Without Mental Health.’[2] This strategy was enshrined into law with the 2012 Health and Social Care Act[3] which introduced an explicit recognition of the Secretary of State for Health’s duty towards both physical and mental health. This Act placed a legislative requirement on the health service to address the disparity between mental and physical health through a concept known as parity of esteem.[4] Parity of esteem recognises that mental health impacts on physical health, and vice versa, and therefore they should both be treated together and equally. A key aspect of implementing this parity is an equal distribution of resources, as well as equal consideration given both aspects of health when commissioning services.

Mental health services were given a boost in the 2015 coalition government budget when the then Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, announced he had secured £1.25bn to enable the NHS to treat more than 100,000 young people suffering mental illness by 2020.  The announcement built on Clegg’s 2014 announcement of the first waiting-time standards for mental health treatment and £120m funding for service improvements designed to put  a stop to ‘discrimination against mental health.’

Given demand on services and reduced budgets, services are inevitably patchy.  Intervention is often at crisis point, waiting times can be lengthy, and the majority of mental health treatments, such as non-consultant led talking therapies, are excluded from the NICE recommended treatments that the NHS Constitution gives people the right to access.

Arguments for the resolution

  • Poor mental health is a big, and growing, problem in the UK. It can lead to a range of physical health problems and increases the risk of dying. Achieving funding equal to that spent on physical health will help treat many people, save many lives, and increase efficiency in the long-term.
  • Many mental health problems are hidden, especially that suffered by new mothers in the postnatal period. A WI campaign can extend the reach of mental health awareness, help improve attitudes toward mental health and encourage people to seek help.
  • This resolution fits nicely with the NFWI’s previous resolution on Care not Custody, calling for liaison and diversion services for people in the criminal justice system with mental health problems.

Arguments against the resolution

  • Parity of esteem requires the health service to deliver joined up care, tackling both mental and physical health together in a holistic approach. Is separating mental health helpful towards this? Is it even possible to effectively separate the treatments and funding streams for physical and mental health?
  • Whilst this is a worthwhile resolution that all members can take action on, it may not be a campaign that allows for hands on involvement in local WIs and local communities. It is not obvious how WIs can get involved and therefore might fail to engage our core audience: WI members.

Groups to contact for further information

Centre for Mental Health

Maya House, 134-138 Borough High Street, London, SE1 1LB

Tel: 020 7827 8300






15-19 Broadway, Stratford, London E15 4BQ

Tel: 020 8519 2122






89 Albert Embankment, London, SE1 7TP

Tel: 0300 5000 927





Mental health network, NHS Confederation

NHS Confederation, Floor 4, 50 Broadway, London, SW1H 0DB

Tel: 0207 799 6666






[1] www.mind.org.uk/media/1113989/a-manifesto-for-better-mental-health.pdf

[2] www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/213761/dh_124058.pdf

[3] www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2012/7/contents/enacted

[4] www.rcpsych.ac.uk/policyandparliamentary/whatsnew/parityofesteem.aspx

NFWI Resolutions Shortlist 2016 – Resolution Number 5: First aid to save lives

In the fifth of the NFWI resolutions to be presented to Sotonettes members for ballot, the promotion of first aid training in the local community is discussed.


Sotonettes members are entitled to vote on this issue; for more information, click here, or download a handy booklet here. Or visit our Facebook page!

“The NFWI considers that suffering could be minimised and lives could be saved if more members of the general population were trained in first aid. We propose that HM government should promote first aid training in schools, colleges, universities and in the workplace. Furthermore, that all WIs should support and encourage first aid training and volunteer first aiders in their communities so that we become a safer and better informed country ready to help save lives.”

Proposer’s position

The proposer’s intention is to increase the number of people with emergency life support skills, and to increase the number of people with the confidence to use those skills to respond to an emergency situation. Acknowledging that a number of national organisations offer training and support in first aid, the proposer would like to see the promotion of first aid training and time allocated for it within schools, colleges, universities and workplaces. The aim would be to minimise the ill effects of a sudden illness and save lives.

Outline of the issue

There are tens of thousands of medical emergencies every year in the UK, resulting in deaths, injuries and disabilities. According to the British Heart Foundation (BHF) approximately 30,000 people each year in the UK have an out of hospital cardiac arrest in which the emergency services attempt resuscitation. Of this number, only 1 in 10 people recover to leave hospital. This survival rate lags considerably behind other developed countries such as Norway, with a survival rate of 25%. Evidence shows that in some cases CPR can double the chances of survival and that if an emergency ambulance is called and immediate bystander CPR is applied, followed by early defibrillation and effective post-resuscitation care, survival rates following cardiac arrest can exceed 50%. Whilst cardiac arrest is not the only emergency that can be tackled by first aid training, these statistics show that, even in this one area, emergency first aid can have a great effect.

Several surveys in the UK have shown that around three quarters of people do not know how to perform CPR.[1] Whilst 47% of people say that they have received formal training, only 29% report that they are confident at performing it on close family members and only 22% are confident to perform it on a total stranger.[2] Several European countries teach CPR in their schools, such as Denmark and Norway. In countries that do teach CPR in schools, the rate of survival for out of hospital cardiac arrest is almost double that of the UK.[3] Looking at first aid more widely, the British Red Cross found only 7% of people felt confident that they could carry out emergency first aid. This figure is 80% in Germany and Scandinavian countries where Emergency Life Skills are taught in schools.[4]

At present, there is no requirement for schools in England to train children in ELS, or basic first aid. However, the BHF estimates that around one in seven children in secondary school in England do receive ELS training. First aid training, which covers many of the parts of ELS, has been included at some English secondary schools as part of Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHE). PSHE does not have any statutory basis and is not part of the National Curriculum – schools have therefore not been required to teach it. In Wales, ELS is part of a framework within Personal and Social Education (PSE). PSE forms part of the basic curriculum which must by law be taught alongside the national curriculum for all registered pupils aged 5 to 16 at maintained schools, however the framework that includes ELS is not statutory.[5] During the latest curriculum review (which was implemented in 2014), the Education Secretary did not accept calls from expert groups for ELS to become a mandatory part of secondary education.

On 16 September 2015, Teresa Pearce MP, along with St John Ambulance, the BHF and the British Red Cross, launched the Every Child a Life Saver campaign.[6] This campaign calls on the Government to make first aid training compulsory in all state-funded secondary schools. Alongside this campaign Pearce tabled the Emergency First Aid Education Bill in Parliament, which would require secondary schools to give young people the skills and confidence to deal with a range of medical emergencies including cardiac arrests, heart attacks, choking, bleeding, asthma attacks, and seizures.[7]

This bill is due to receive its second reading on 20 November 2015[8], where it will need the support of 100 MPs to force a vote, and then a majority of MPs in the house in order to take it to committee stage. As this is a private members bill, as opposed to a government bill, it is possible that it will not be scheduled enough time in Parliament for it to be passed into law and will need the government to allocate it time for debate. The Every Child a Life Saver campaign is raising awareness of this bill and encouraging people to take action and show MPs that this bill has widespread support.

Across the UK, the government have encouraged the development of Community First Responder (CFR) schemes. CFRs are volunteers who can respond to emergency calls within their local community, which is helpful in areas where the emergency services can’t get to the emergency in the target time. In April 2007 the Healthcare Commission in England found that there were 10,158 CFRs in England, however, these volunteers responded to just 1.8% of all emergency calls.[9]

Arguments for the resolution

  • Increasing the first aid skills of the population can double cardiac arrest survival rates and help save many lives.
  • The campaign to get first aid skills taught in schools is backed by the Red Cross, the British Heart Foundation and St John Ambulance. These organisations would be excellent for partnerships.
  • Members can get involved on a very local level through training to be a community first responder and promoting first aid training to local schools and workplaces.

Arguments against the resolution

  • The government currently encourages schools to teach PSHE and first aid, but it is not mandatory. This resolution doesn’t call for a mandatory approach, so can the government do any more?
  • Schools, colleges, Universities and workplaces are all under pressure. Would it be feasible to ask them to add first aid training to their programmes?
  • Three other large charities currently offer first aid training and encourage people to take it up. Can the WI give them enough extra reach to make a difference?

Groups to contact for further information

British Red Cross

British Red Cross, UK Office, 44 Moorfields, London, EC2Y 9AL

Tel: 0344 871 11 11



Twitter logo v small@BritishRedCross


St John Ambulance

St John’s Gate, Clerkenwell, London EC1M 4DA

Tel: 08700 104950


Twitter logo v small@stjohnambulance


British Heart Foundation

Greater London House, 180 Hampstead Road, London NW1 7AW

Tel: 0300 330 3322


Twitter logo v small@TheBHF


Teresa Pearce MP – Introduced the Emergency First Aid Education Bill and launched the Every Child a Lifesaver campaign

House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA

Tel: Westminster Office – 0207 219 6936


Twitter logo v small@tpearce003



[1] BHF research in 2006 found that nearly three quarters of people were not trained in CPR (CPR training research, British Heart Foundation, Ed Coms, 2006.) A survey undertaken in 2010 by St John Ambulance, St Andrew Ambulance and the British Red Cross found that 77% of people either did not know how to perform CPR, or were unsure – see: www.sja.org.uk/sja/about-us/latest-news/news-archive/news-stories-from-2009/february/national-first-aid-awareness.aspx

[2] www.bhf.org.uk/~/media/files/publications/policy-documents/final_nation_of_lifesavers_policy_statement_14102014.pdf

[3] Ibid.

[4] www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/Media-centre/Press-releases/2009/February/No-first-aid-teaching-in-1-in-4-schools-despite-backing-from-teachers

[5] www.bhf.org.uk/~/media/files/publications/policy-documents/final_nation_of_lifesavers_policy_statement_14102014.pdf

[6] www.everychildalifesaver.org

[7] www.sja.org.uk/sja/what-we-do/latest-news/every-child-a-lifesaver.aspx

[8] http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2015-16/compulsoryemergencyfirstaideducationstatefundedsecondaryschools.html

[9] The role and management of community first responders. Findings from a national survey of NHS ambulance services in England, Healthcare Commission, December 2007. Available at: www.bristol.gov.uk/committee/2008/wa/wa048/0418_7.pdf