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New WI to spread wine drinking and knitting across Croydon

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THREE young mums are hoping to provide an "outlet for women in the community" by setting up a Croydon branch of the Women's Institute (WI).

Amy Le Pelley, Florence Hallett and Abi Lynn, in their mid-thirties, say the institute is no longer seen as "jam and Jerusalem" and is having a revival.

Amy, the group's president, said: "The three of us have young children and although we value the support and friendship we get from the vast number of parenting groups in Croydon, especially Croydon NCT, we felt we wanted something that was about us.

"Somewhere we could meet once a month and have a little 'me time'."

Set up in 1915, the WI now comprises 6,600 groups across the UK, but there is currently no central Croydon branch.

Ms Le Pelley added: "Some people envisage the Women's Institute as being all about Jam and Jerusalem, its members being mainly older women and that they are mainly set up in rural communities.

"However, this is no longer the case.

"It is enjoying a revival, with membership increasing by a quarter in the past three years.

"More women are interested in learning skills such as crafting and baking thanks to television shows such as The Great British Bake Off and Kirstie's Handmade Britain."

The Croydon group is due to be formally recognised by the WI in October and until then is meeting informally. It held its first meeting, a wine-tasting at Matthews Yard cafe in central Croydon, two weeks ago, and forthcoming events include an expert talk on forensics and a cupcake class.

The calendar will depend on what members want, and Ms Le Pelley said the WI strongly believes groups should "not be led by individual people or those who shout the loudest".

She added: "There aren't many organisations where you can drink wine and knit at the same time if you want to.

"It is also important to maintain the older traditions from previous generations and pass them on to the future generations."

The group has a Facebook page, Croydon's Crafty Crumpets, which has more than 100 friends.

Amy added: "I think that our Facebook page shows we are a friendly, supportive bunch.

"It can be hard to make friends in Croydon, especially if you are at work all day or in between school runs.

"We aim to introduce you to people who will become lifelong friends who share the same interests."

New WI to spread wine drinking and knitting across Croydon


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