East Sussex Federation

About us

Who are we?

We are the East Sussex Federation of Women’s Institutes (ESFWI) comprising 100 local Women’s Institute groups. Each group meets at least once a month and there is one near you! 

Each WI is different, and we encourage prospective members to visit several to make sure they find the one that suits them.  As a member in East Sussex you will also have access to the wide range of activities, workshops, outings etc. arranged by ESFWI.

Our Federation Head Office is in Hailsham, where the Federation Secretary and the other office staff are based. The office building also has a training/meeting room.

The Federation administers this website, and also produces the monthly East Sussex News magazine.

To get in touch with us, see the Contact Us page.  This site also helps you find your nearest WI groups – see the map.

What is the Women’s Institute?

National WI logoThe WI is a democratic, social and educational charity. Membership is for women only. The WI plays a unique role in providing women with educational opportunities and the chance to build new skills, to take part in a wide variety of activities and to campaign on issues that matter to them and their communities.

The WI is based on the ideals of fellowship, truth, tolerance and justice. The organisation is non-sectarian and non-party political.

Every WI provides 11 monthly meetings for their members, often including speakers/demonstrators on a variety of topics decided by members. Other meetings, crafts, walking, discussion, or drama groups, choirs etc, are also organized by individual WI groups.

The subscription is deliberately modest in order to ensure that all women who wish to join may do so.

How is the WI organised? 

The WI is a three tier organisation.  The National Federation, to which all 69 Federations are affiliated, is based in London.  The NFWI is governed by an elected Board of Trustees under the leadership of the National Chair.

Beneath the NFWI are the Federations. Local Federations are also governed by elected Boards of Trustees. Through a network of sub-committees, they organize a range of workshops and events for WI members across the Federation. Federations also support teams of specially trained voluntary WI Advisers, who assist WI groups with their every day running.

Individual WIs are led by voluntary committees. Officers include a President, a Secretary and a Treasurer.  Although all WI groups share the same objectives, they vary in size, level of activity and age profile. Some meet in the day, others in the evening.  Remember, as a prospective member you can visit several WIs in your area before making a choice!


Nationally, the WI is recognised as an important voice for national and local government when contemplating new laws and directives, and is represented on many “think tanks” and other institutes and assemblies.  This is our serious side; striving to make a difference and improve the world in which we live. Our campaigns are mainly directed through a process of Annual Resolutions, on topics chosen and voted for by members.  These campaigns are carried down to local level by individual WIs. See the Public Affairs page for details.


Denman College

The WI has its own residential training college, Denman, in Oxfordshire.  Denman is the WI’s centre for learning, offering a wealth of opportunities to learn new skills on day schools and short courses in the field of cookery, craft and lifestyle. Everyone is welcome – men and women, members and non-members.  Visit the Denman website to browse courses.