April Business meeting- AGM and Change of Insignia
The AGM is an occasion to reflect on the year past and plan for the forthcoming year. An interesting part of the 2019 AGM were the reports from Club officers which revealed the wide range of activities the Club undertook during the past 12 months: support for the Anti- Slavery Campaign, Christmas gift boxes, support for International Women’s Day, lunch at the Clink, trip to see the Book of Mormon – to name but a few! Members also noted the revised and improved social media coverage for our club!
However, the highlight of the evening was the Change of Insignia when President Nancy passed the Presidential ‘reins’ to incoming President Helen for the 2019/2020 year.
Helen addressed the meeting:
“First of all I would like to thank Nancy for a very good year. the AGM reports were great and showed how much we’d achieved and that we all worked well together. I think that year actually reflected Nancy’s own personality – informal but very friendly and she got things done. As our gift from the club, Nancy requested a voucher from John Pass the Jeweller. So I know that we will all insist on having a good look at whatever she buys.”
She continued her presentation by outlining her themes for the coming year. The new SIGBI Federation President, Sue Williams, has a theme for her year entitled ‘Think on it’ which encourages Members to raise awareness of mental health. Helen said “I am taking her lead and devoting my whole year to all aspects of mental health. Now that may all sound a bit depressing but it isn’t because in each situation we are going to be looking at the positives. What can be done by experts and amateurs like us to make things better. We will also be looking for projects in which we can get involved.” She went on to give details of all the speakers and activities lined up for the coming months. [Note: see the Diary for full details of speakers.]
Members concluded with a group photo to mark the start of Helen’s Presidency.
February 2019 Dinner Meeting
Once again our meeting started with a delicious dinner for members and guests at the Hunters Lodge Hotel. It was followed by a fascinating and inspiring talk from Kay Carson from the Nantwich Job Club. She talked engagingly about how the Club works with those struggling with life, debts and getting into work. She explained how her faith and strong sense of social injustice had led her to work with the group ‘Christians against Poverty’ who support and sponsor the Job Clubs. She encouraged listeners to think strategically: what ideas could they contribute to help organisations and businesses aid those who struggle to engage with society in the ‘usual’ way?
Thanks to Kay for a most thought- provoking presentation.
It being ‘Fair Trade Fortnight’ members also contributed Fair Trade items to the Food Bank and admired and purchased soft toys made by a friend of a member in aid of charity.
January 2019 Meeting
A Talk about the YMCA parenting programme
Members braved a cold and snowy January evening to enjoy dinner followed by a most interesting talk from Tracey and Judith from the YMCA in Crewe about their parenting programmes. SI Nantwich made a donation to the Parenting Groups at Christmas which enabled the organisers to provide a number of jolly seasonal parties for their groups. SI Nantwich also donated some attractive hardback notebooks to help parents struggling to cope and organise their lives. Tracey told us about one mum who had found the notebook so useful it went everywhere with her!
Members also examined the book that the YMCA use as the basis of their help sessions. Those of us with children might have found this useful ourselves!
Dinner Meeting on 27th November
To mark the second day of the Orange the World Project Members attending the November dinner meeting bought along items for the Food Bank that are Orange !
We also gave a cheque for £900 to Tracey Bentley, the Children and Families Team Leader at the YMCA. The money will go towards parties and presents for the most vulnerable families in the Crewe area. Tracey was absolutely delighted and said that the money will make a real difference to these families.
After dinner we enjoyed an excellent presentation by Kitty Sadler from Snugbury’s. We heard about the development of the company from a struggling farm to a highly successful business. At the end she let us sample some of the ice cream, which was absolutely delicious! As you can see President Nancy enjoyed it very much.
Our Club meeting in October 2018 has prompted a blog by Caroline Marsh….
What is supportive, lifts you up, and always close to your heart? Yes, it could be your best friend, but we are talking about bras here, lots of them, through the ages and social twists and turns of the last century.
Our dinner speaker in October was Janet Blake who brought lots of garments for us to see and gave a gentle and informative talk about bras, slips, petticoats pyjamas and other undergarments. It was an opportunity for a history lesson for some and to reminisce for others – one of our members even shared that she had even been a model for Spirella corsets! It got me thinking though – what have bras ever done for women? Are they a vital undergarment for style and comfort or a symbol of male oppression and desire to control women? A little bit of googling around came up with some interesting points.
At least 75% of western women wear a bra, including me, so it is still popular, if not universal. We heard that they came into common usage in the early 20C and surely must have been a force for liberation from the uncomfortable and unhealthy corset. There is no doubt though that by the 50s the style of bra – think pointy and prominent breasts – was seen as a desirable look promoted by men, and through the film industry and beauty parades they came to be associated with treating women as sex objects, and “a way for men and society to control women and bras negatively affect the female image”. 
We have all heard about the ‘bra-burning’ feminists of the 1960’s and the now famous demonstration held at the Miss America 1969 contest on September 7, 1968, attended by about 200 feminists and separately, by civil rights advocates. In fact, the protesters threw bras, and other feminine products, into a “Freedom Trash Can” and there was never any bra burning. Although many women continued to wear their bras and over time ‘bra-burning feminist’ became almost a term of abuse by some, it marked a time when women began to wear what they wanted for comfort, style and their definition of sexiness. They have also enabled women to more easily participate in sports with the development of supportive sports bras.
Kristen Flor Perrett provides some interesting food for thought in her recent blog about what women want from their bras. From around 2006, when Dove began their ‘Real Women” campaign there has been greater emphasis on a more holistic view of health and beauty product marketing. We are all into leading health and active lives, and the bra has potential to be more than an essential item of underwear that we mindlessly put on each morning. She highlights 3 key current themes that influence the role of the bra:
- Body positivity is the new sexy – manufacturers want to encourage women to feel good about themselves, and many high street stores sell bras for women who have had reconstructive surgery for example. “H&M has launched a line of bras designed by breast cancer survivors, for breast cancer survivors, bringing awareness to what the bra shopping experience is like for women who’ve undergone mastectomies or invasive surgeries.”
- The rise of athleisure – sports bras are everywhere: on catwalks, red carpets, social media, and in every woman’s wardrobe.
- Intimate apparel integrated with a health and wellness lifestyle – imagining how wellness might be built into the product itself as part of the job it does for us. Sports bras like the Mi Pulse Smart Bra come equipped with sensors to monitor heart rate and Bluetooth transmitters to connect to your device. As a woman with a recent heart problem this sounds amazing and exciting. The OMBra tracks a number of biometrics, including breath rate. Detection of cancer is not impossible to imagine.
At the end of my little thought ramblings I think bras are here to stay, and I am still a feminist J I can see that there will be a greater integration into the health and wellness lifestyle. This could be a fad, but equally, it could be a vital part of healthy lifestyle, and potentially lifesaving. Let’s hope the trend to involve women in design and to inform functionality continues though.
So, all in all, it was a pleasant evening that got me thinking. It was also good fun as I hope these pictures show. What more could I want?
( Hooper, Amelia, “The Bra and its Effects on Women and Society” (2014). USU Student Showcase. Student Showcase. Paper 41.)