April 2016 Meeting – AGM Proposals and First Aid

At our April meeting, we mixed some serious business into our usual bit of fun and came out with some important decisions and a better understanding of how to help others in need.

First Steve Murrow of Mid Anglia First Aid and Fire Services and a paramedic at the East of England Ambulance Service gave us an entertaining but also highly educational talk about first aid. He was superb at integrating humour with such a serious issue in ways that had the whole room laughing to ensure we’d never forget his core points.

He emphasized that safely doing something is better than nothing when it comes to administering CPR or other first aid, citing plenty of examples about folks who would have died if someone hadn’t at least tried something. Many members expressed fears about inadvertently doing harm while trying to help, but he assured us that a small risk of harm was better than a high risk of death from having nothing done.

Mr. Murrow also told us all about the latest generations of defibrillators and how they’re automated so anyone can use them. He said each one set up in a public place will have phone number on it so in the case of an emergency, anybody can call that number and be immediately connected to someone who can either come operate the device or talk the caller through it.

After the meeting several members stated an interest in a longer, paid session for basic first aid certification, so if you are interested in signing up please contact the committee and we’ll let you know the current status of that potential event.

Next we discussed how we want our delegate to vote on the proposed resolutions at the upcoming national AGM. The full text of each can be found here:

Appropriate care in hospitals for people with dementia.

Avoid food waste, address food poverty.

Our members felt strongly that the wording of both resolutions was problematic, and we held an in-depth conversation about each while applying the WI’s resolution criteria as follows [Source]: Topical – it fits with current areas of public interest or the NFWI’s work priorities. Timely – it is not ‘yesterday’s news’. Targeted – the resolution has a clear and realistic objective. Achievable – the resolution is calling for something meaningful and sensible that can be achieved. Partnership potential – the NFWI’s work will add value to the work of other organisations. Accurate – it reflects the current situation and does not use outdated or obsolete information as its basis. PR potential – there is a potential to gain positive media coverage for the WI that could lead to an increase in membership, perhaps by challenging rather than reinforcing media and public stereotypes about the organisation. Appropriate – it fits with the WI’s charitable objects, our history and ethos.

On the dementia issue we had members speak both for and against the proposal who themselves had been involved with family members in hospital who needed this or similar care. It seems that some hospitals already provide excellent care for dementia patients while others fall quite short.

A major concern was that the wording of the resolution would allow for some hospitals to foist more care onto already struggling families. For example, extended visiting hours with no actual additional support could result in exhausted family members feeling as though they could never take a break to go home and eat a meal or sleep. Several members stated that firm visiting hours during a loved one’s hospitalization were the only license they felt they had to ever take a break over weeks, months, or years of assistive care.

A point was also raised that under the current government and spending cuts to NHS across the board, the WI would be unlikely to make any reasonable changes at that level anyway.

In the end, the wording of this resolution resulted in our members having to vote against it despite our deep concern for the issue, because we saw it as potentially burdening the wrong people in the struggle for better care and because we did not think it satisfied the WI criteria in terms of achievable outreach.

Then we discussed the food waste proposal and also immediately found that its wording was not what we wanted. Several members pointed out that grocery stores already maximize their own PR potential via existing voluntary food waste management programs while actually pushing the waste off onto other entities in the supply chain. As one member mentioned, if a major grocery retailer puts in an order with farmers at the start of the growing season for a large amount of parsnips and then decides at harvest time that it can’t sell those parsnips, the store does not take delivery and the farmers often plough the food right back into the soil because it’s not cost-effective for them to harvest something that can’t be sold. That waste is not counted against the store.

It was noted that unlike the dementia proposal – which required participation with the top levels of government – the food waste proposal had more wiggle room for each WI chapter to work with their local stores, farms, other members of the supply chain, and existing community food groups directly. Our members were able to immediately come up with potential ideas for how we could maximize our efforts with local stakeholders in this topic. So while we still felt the overall wording was not likely to be effective towards the actual problem, we saw potential to bend this resolution to our area’s needs.

We thus voted for our delegate to vote yes on the food waste proposal and no on the dementia proposal, and our members have already been discussing the food waste issue further amongst ourselves in anticipation of its passage at the AGM.

ladies raising hands

Ladybird members voting and being counted by a guest from CamCity WI.

So it was a very valuable, informative, useful meeting for everyone who attended. We thank Mr. Murrow and all of our members for their important words. And one way or another, none of us who were there will ever see carrots the same way again.

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