A North Staffordshire Women’s Institute group – Let’s Make Jam – are thriving in spite of challenges and adversity in the face of multiple Covid Lockdowns.
The group who meets on the second Friday of every month were, along with the rest of the UK first advised they would no longer be able to meet face to face on 23 rd March 2020. Determined as ever to stay connected, the group set up a private member only group on Facebook just two days later which became a safe space for their members to communicate and support each other throughout the pandemic.
The committee also switched their usual meetings from face to face to online via Zoom.
With the addition of extra catch-up meetings online, such as Jamanory (Book club), Jammy Hookers (Knitting and Crochet group), a Regular 10am Tuesday ‘Tea and Jam’ meeting and finally their lunch time addition of ‘Jam Sandwich’ the group became were able to stay connected.
Member Mags Johnston said of the group: ‘We have meetings every month with inspiring subjects. In February we had ‘Show the love’ where every member was challenged every day with a task – literally showing the love to everyone. Recently we enjoyed ‘the great big nature boost, biodiversity and nature in your garden’ which culminated in a ‘Night at the Oscars.’
The group have increased the number of opportunities their members have to meet by a staggering 68% in lockdown through these extra sessions along with a number of fantastic craft sessions hosted by Committee member Jenny Cook.
Whilst all of these sessions have been well attended, the committee were fully aware that some
of members did not feel comfortable online and made sure to include them, with regular
wellbeing calls, ‘happy mail’, Jam postal swaps and a regular newsletter informing them of all things Jam, whilst including regular recipes, craft tutorials and puzzles.
The membership as a whole have remained community focussed throughout with many success stories, including the evolution of ‘The Quirky Bird’ Lynn Barrow growing her new business and hosting regular paint along sessions, and Carly Twigg supporting parents with home schooling through her award winning ‘Help I’m now Homeschooling’ Facebook group.
Jam member Sarah Speakman said: “Jam has continued to keep us all entertained over the
past 18 months or so via zoom or their super newsletters. The sub-groups have been great as well – and a cheeky lunch out for some at a garden centre. I am so glad to be part of this brilliant group of girls. I for one have felt privileged to have the fun, laughter and super support.”
More plans are in the pipeline for the Let’s Make Jam team, including an exciting venue move, offering improved parking and better facilities for their members, along with a long-awaited face to face Craftanoon.
The ‘Let’s Make Jam’ team, work hard to ensure every single member feels welcomed and valued.
Whether that is flying a trans awareness banner or rainbow flag. Or just picking up the phone or
sending a much-valued card when someone is struggling.
Sharon Mason Huxley shares her thoughts: “Let’s Make Jam are just the best group of ladies & friends I could wish to know. During lockdown – and before – I was having treatment for cancer and the LMJ ladies would send me get well wishes, cards, gifts, always asking how I am and offering any help I needed. Zooming with them was brilliant. I still had as much fun and laughs as I always did and I want to thank all the ladies for helping to keep me a little bit sane.”
If you want to know more about the Let’s Make Jam WI you can find them on Facebook with