September Meeting: More Than Chocolate!

This month we welcome local author Fiona Joseph, whose talk will celebrate the unrecognised contribution of Cadbury women workers to the war effort on the Home Front during the first world war. Her stories of female empowerment and female-led initiatives were discovered while researching into the Cadbury Archives at Bournville, and inspired her novel ‘Comforts for the Troops’.

Sunday 9 September 15:00-17:00; St Columba Church Hall, Moseley

August Meeting: WI Does Bollywood!

For our August meeting we will be learning to Bhangra like a star, for those a little less energetic there is a chance to get creative with Mehendi and of course there will be samosas.

As this is our summer session we have decided to open the event up to children under 10, however please be aware that will be your responsibility throughout the meeting. As usual the session is free to members and £5 for visitors.

This session is open for women and children only.

Sunday 12 August 15:00-17:00; St Columba Church Hall, Moseley Village

May Meeting: A Food Tour of Birmingham


Rhiannon Simpson, founder of the Birmingham food tour shall invite the WI on a delicious tale of the city’s rich history with food and drink.

We shall anchor some of our favourite delights to home grown stories from not only Birmingham but the Moseley/ Balsall Heath area. Bring a hunger for heritage, chatter and tasty nibbles.

If you have any dietary requirements or allergies, please let us know in advance so that we can try to accommodate for these.

Free for members/ £5 for non-members

Sunday 13 May 15:00-17:00; St Columba Church Hall, Moseley Village

April Meeting: Pretty Political

Join us for some feminist badge-making with Pretty Political. We’ll be shrinking plastic to make our designs, so come along and have a go!

This will be a really great way to meet people whilst learning a new craft activity – as always, tea and cake will be provided, and there will be time to chat to, and get to know people.

Jorine Beck is the Birmingham-based Dutch political artist behind Pretty Political. She loves to give people food for thought without dictating what they should think. Working with contrasts, metaphors and symbols allows her to create critical illustrations around global themes, but also leaves the necessary space for interpretation and nuance. You can learn more about Pretty Political here:

Free for Members/£5 non-members. Sunday 8 April, 15:00 at St Columba’s Church

March Meeting: Women and Politics – A Talk with Kerry Jenkins

We’re delighted to get councillor Kerry Jenkins in to talk to us about being a woman in politics at the end of International Women’s Week this March.

Kerry has been a councillor for Hall Green Ward since May 2014. Although a qualified Social Worker, she chose a different career path and has worked for Unite the union as a trade union campaigner for the last 18 years. She is a champion of young people and is passionate about the need for opportunities to ensure young people’s voices are heard. In recognition of her work, Kerry was appointed as Birmingham’s first official youth champion in June 2015.

Come along to what will be a fascinating talk on women, campaigning and politics.

Free for members/£5 non-members. Tea, coffee and cake will be provided.

Sunday 11 March, 15:00-17:00, St Columba’s Church, Chantry Road

2018 Programme

Here is the upcoming programme for our 2018 WI sessions. Detailed information and any update/changes will be distributed via Facebook, email and website closer to the time!

February 11th 2018 
Why Women Will save the Planet
​​Women’s environmental community action with the Real Junk Food Project and Birmingham Friends of the Earth.

March 11th 2018 
​It’s a Women’s Issue 
Jess Phillips MP talks about women and politics followed by a Q &A session

April ​8th 2018 
Pretty Political
​​A feminist approach to craft with Birmingham’s finest Jorine Beck.

May​​ 13th 2018 
Virtual Food Tour
​​Sample the rich food heritage of Birmingham

June​ 10th 2018 
Women at War
Exploring female stereotypes in times of conflict.

July​​ 8th 2018
Summer Picnic @ Highbury Orchard
Find out about the work of Friends of Highbury and share a picnic​!

August​ 12th 2018 
Bollywood in the park
​​Come and throw some moves! Children welcome. Also mehndi workshops in the hall.

September 9th 2018
​​Up the workers!
Find out about the history of Women factory workers in Birmingham

Oct​​ober 14th 2018
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
Practical session including the making of Jams, chutneys, cordials, syrups and liqueurs! This session will also include our AGM

Nov​​ember 11th 2018 
Let’s do the show right here!
​​Come and release your inner diva through musical theatre

Dec​​ember 9th 2018
Christmas Crafts

Why Women Will Save the Planet – 11 February 15:00-17:00

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Climate change disproportionately affects women around the world, and they are essential to the fight against environmental injustice. Birmingham Friends of the Earth will explore the relationship between feminism and the environment and look at the part we can play locally to address global issues. We will hear about their current campaigns on air pollution, waste and climate change as well as taking action as part of the Climate Coalition’s Show the Love campaign.

We will also be finding out more about The Real Junk Food Project Birmingham.

For those who enjoy craft, we will be sharing materials and methods to make green hearts as part of the Show the Love campaign – please bring along any green yarn, fabric, beads, paper etc to share with other members.

The cost is £5 for non-members, free for members.

National WI Resolutions

WI resolutions 2018 – make your voice count!

Every resolution passed throughout the WI’s 102-year history has stemmed from a concern put forward by members. This year, 68 resolutions were submitted, then narrowed down to five by representatives from regional federations.

The next step is for each member to consider all five and select the one you would most like to go forward for further discussion and final voting at the Annual Meeting in June 2018. You can read about each resolution at…/current-news-an…/resolutions-2017

BH&MWI paid up members for 2017 or 2018 can vote using this survey. Voting will close at 10pm 8 February 2018.

The Bloody Monthlies

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Start your new year with a trip through history as we look at the how attitudes towards menstruation have changed through the ages, and different ways women dealt with their periods.

An insight into a hidden history, this is a fantastic opportunity to learn more about how cultural attitudes have shifted (and how they’ve remained the same).

We’ll also be looking at the issue through a green lens, looking at environmentally friendly ways of managing your period, as well as having a go at making out own sanitary towels!

The cost is £5 for non-members, free for members. As this session is the first of the year, we will also have time at the beginning to renew membership or join Balsall Heath and Moseley WI for the first time – the sub rate for the entire year is £41, and means you can attend our meetings for free, and get priority for any events that may be limited capacity.

We will also be taking donations of any sanitary products for the Bloody Good Period Project, so please bring along pads and tampons to donate if you can.

Urban foraging…

Looking ahead to May, the next meeting of the Balsall Heath WI is going a little off grid and our members are invited to join guest speaker Alys Fowler on an urban foraging walk  in  Highbury  Park. Alys  has  written  several  gardening  books,  writes a  regular  column  in  the  Guardian  magazine and has a Twitter account full of hints and tips to grow your own food and flowers.

Alys Fowler, photo from her Twitter account which is full of gardening hints and tips

I’m  intrigued…  I’ve  always  thought  of  foraging  as  something  that   involves men in khaki trousers scouring acres of woodland with a serious guidebook about mushrooms. But having rediscovered a copy of Alys’ book ‘The Edible Garden’ on our shelf, I am looking forward to finding out more about how  “even  within  city  limits,  you  can  pick  masses  of  lovely food for free”.


In her book, Alys describes how when she was younger her mother taught her about which flowers and plants were edible and which would taste the sweetest. She explains that she bought this knowledge with her when she moved to Birmingham and now spends time each season walking her dog and foraging for edible ingredients in local parks and green spaces.

The book goes on to suggest ways in which we can use these ingredients to add seasonal flavour to our  food  at  home  and  Alys  shares  several  recipes which we can use to prepare our foraging finds, including this one for a springtime nettle soup.

Nettle Soup

(recipe taken from ‘The Edible Garden’ by Alys Fowler)

A carrier bag of nettle tips, washed carefully

1 large potato, diced

1 leek, chopped into rounds

1 large onion, diced

2 large cloves of garlic, minced

750ml (1 ½ pints) of stock

Water to top up with

2-3 tablespoons crème fraiche

Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté the onions until golden and translucent for around 8 minutes,  add  the  garlic,  leeks  and  potato  and  cook  for  another  5  minutes  until  the  vegetables are just beginning  to  soften.  Add the stock  and  the  nettles and cook for a further 20 minutes or until the nettles are soft. Top up with more water if necessary and add salt and pepper to taste. Then blend the whole mixture, adding enough crème fraiche to turn the soup a pale mint green colour.


Sounds delicious and I’m really looking forward to trying this out along with other ideas from Alys following our urban foraging expedition next month!


Check  out  our  Facebook  page  for  details  of  how  to  become  a  member  of  the  Balsall  Heath  Women’s  Institute  and  for  more  details of our upcoming meetings.