If you have a question about what who we are and what we get up to at Sotonettes meetings, you might just find the answer here! We always love hearing from those thinking of joining our modern WI in Southampton and our current members too – if we’ve not covered whatever you’re curious about, please get in touch.
Who are the Sotonettes?
To put it simply, we are a modern Women’s Institute based in Southampton City Centre.
For more background information about the Sotonettes, please have a look here. We have also blogged a little about the history of how and why the Sotonettes was set up by Emma, Marli and Cat in How The Sotonettes Began.
Why the name ‘Sotonettes’?
Soton is a common abbreviation of Southampton, and –ette is obviously a suffix used for the feminine form of a noun. Together we feel it means ladies of Southampton.
What is the age range of the Sotonettes?
We get asked this question a lot and really we like to think of ourselves as a modern group for ladies of all ages. As we are a modern WI, our members are younger than the average WI, but our group has quite a range of ages, from ladies in their 20s up to 80s. However, we think the important thing is that we are all friendly, sociable and welcoming, without the perceived constraints of tradition.
Where do the Sotonettes meet?
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, all meetings are currently online and we meet using Zoom. Each month we have a main meeting, an informal craft night and a monthly book club too. Our main meeting is usually held upstairs in the Above Bar Church, Above Bar Street (access is via the side entrance on Ogle Road). If the venue changes for any reason we will publicise this well in advance. Our craft night is held in the IKEA Restaurant (IKEA is near West Quay, on West Quay Road. The Restaurant is on the top floor). The Book Club meets at Maritimo Lounge in the Ocean Village area of Southampton.
When do the Sotonettes meet?
We always meet on Tuesdays between 7:30pm – 9:30pm. Our main meeting is held on the last Tuesday of the month; our craft night on the second Tuesday of the month; and our book club on the third Tuesday of the month. For main meetings we ask that you arrive between 7pm and 7:30pm, so that we can start on time but you are welcome to stay on afterwards to socialise. The book club starts at 7pm so please try and arrive on time, however, our craft night start and finish times are not so strict (approximately 7pm-9pm), so feel free to drop-in when you can, for as long as you can.
How do I become a member of the Sotonettes?
It is easiest to become a member at a meeting; where we will need you to fill out a membership form and make a payment. If you join before the 31 March 2021, the reduced membership fee of £10.75 applies and your membership will last until 31 March 2021. The 2021-22 WI membership cost is £44; payable by cheque, cash, or BACS/online bank transfer (please e-mail us for our bank details) and we will give you a receipt.
The WI Membership year runs from 1st April to 31st March. If you are joining the WI for the first time* later in the calendar year then a reduced pro-rata payment will apply – please contact us for details.
*Pro-rata subscription applies to new members joining the WI or the first time, or who have not been a member of any WI in the past year. The subscription rate is set by the National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI).
Sotonettes membership covers entrance into all meetings including any materials, our newsletter, copies of WI Life magazine, a members pack and book of vouchers provided by NFWI, access to the WI Moodle training portal (email us if you are interested), as well as regular newsletters and mailings to keep you up-to-date with all the news and events from Hampshire Federation and the NFWI. You will need to be a member to enter any WI competitions e.g. New Forest Show and to get involved in the committee at election time.
If you are currently a member of another WI, you can also join the Sotonettes as “dual” member for £21.10 (2020 subscription rate).
Is it OK to just turn up to a Sotonettes meeting on the night?
Of course it is! We’d love you to come along. There is no need to RSVP beforehand, so please do just turn up (and bring a friend, if you want). Meetings are £5 for visitors (if you are a member of another WI, visiting the Sotonettes is only £3 when you bring along your WI membership card). There is no charge for our Book Club or Craft Night meetings. You may visit us up to three times before joining the WI as a member.
What do the Sotonettes get up to?
From book-binding to burlesque, we get up to all sorts; check out our Galleries page for some photos. At main meetings we like to find out about or try something new each month, from activities to campaigns. Craft nights are a relaxed evening meet up, where we bring along any crafts we are working on, drink hot chocolate and have a chat. Our book club discusses books by female authors or those with female lead characters over a hot drink and maybe some cake too! Do you want to meet new people and learn new skills? If so, then we are the group for you!
Where can I find out more about what you get up to?
Keep up-to-date with the Sotonettes on our Blog, our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/Sotonettes, and on twitter: @Sotonettes. For more information or if you have any questions, please contact us through Facebook, Twitter or send us a message here.
I have a suggestion for an event, how do I get in touch?
We’d love to hear from you, so please message the committee using the form here, tweet us or message us on Facebook. We plan events quite far in advance and try not to repeat activities, so we might not be able to fit your suggestion into to our schedule right away, but we will let you know and keep in touch. We only hold committee meetings on the first Tuesday of each month, so please be patient as everything needs to be discussed and agreed before we put plans into action.
I would like to promote something to your members, how can I do that?
Please get in touch with committee via this page, Facebook or Twitter and we will see what we can do. We like to promote local events in our monthly members newsletter, so definitely let us know if you have an event coming up that you think might be of interest to our ladies.
If you are a member, we are always interested in hearing and promoting your news on the blog. This could be exciting personal news, what you do for a job, a day-trip you’ve been on, a talk or gig you have been to, fundraising or charity event you are doing, a recipe or craft pattern you’d like to share… anything really that you think might be of interest to other members.
Can men come to Sotonettes meetings?
As might be suggested by the name ‘Women’s Institute’, membership of the Sotonettes is only open to women. This is a national WI policy and the NFWI writes that: ‘The Women’s Institute is an educational charity with a constitution that states membership is only open to women. Under UK law charitable organisations whose constitution stipulates single sex membership are entitled to restrict access to the opposite sex.’ This is regulated by rule 9 of the constitution, which states: “Membership of the WI is open to women. They may join by paying the required annual subscription…”
Whilst there are no official WI rules that state men cannot attend meetings as guests, we have taken the decision following some concern and confusion at one of our meetings to institute a rule for the Sotonettes that we will not be allowing men to attend monthly meetings. We may have events where friends and family, both female and male, will be welcome – these will be advertised as such in advance.
What about other WIs in Southampton?
If you type your postcode into the ‘search for a WI’ bit on the main WI website it will come up with all of your local WIs. In addition to the Sotonettes there are several other WIs in the Southampton area, who all meet at different times on different days:
Highfield WI meet at 8pm on the 4th Monday of the month in Portswood Residents’ Garden Pavillion, SO17 1QT.
Mayflower WI (formerly St James WI) meet at 1.45pm on the 3rd Tuesday of the month at Shirley Baptist Church, Church Street, Shirley, SO15 5LG.
Shirley WI meet at 10:15am on the 1st Wednesday of the month at Pirrie Park Bowling Club, Wilton Crescent, SO15 7QE.
Hatch Grange WI meet at 7.30pm on the 3rd Wednesday of the month at West End Parish Centre, Chapel Road, West End, SO30 3FE.
Chilworth WI meet on 2nd Thursday each month 2-15 for 2.30 start until 4.30pm at Chilworth Village Hall, SO16 7LD
Bitterne WI meet at 1.45pm on the 3rd Thursday of the month at The Wesley Centre, Whites Rd, Bitterne, Southampton, SO19 7NS.
Woolston & Sholing WI meet at 7.30pm on the 1st Thursday of the month at The Salvation Army Hall, 93 North East Road, Sholing, SO19 8AF.
Click on the name of the WI to link to their page on the Hampshire County Federation website, which includes details about their upcoming programmes. It is best to contact them directly about what they get up to, or why not pop along to one of their meetings? A few Sotonettes members are dual members with other WIs; we can put you in contact with these ladies if you want to find out more. And if you do go along to a meeting at another WI let us know about it!