AN organisation whose members’ nimble fingers have provided warm clothing and blankets for the homeless is celebrating its 100th birthday.

Ermin Street Women’s Institute marked the occasion with an afternoon tea party and invited Threshold Housing Link along to the celebration.

“We do a lot of work to support those who experience difficulties and struggle with their mental health,” said Sue Mould, president of the WI branch.

“That’s why we’re pleased to be able to support Threshold because we know that so many people that are homeless, are lonely and feel isolated. The team at Threshold do a wonderful job!”

Michael Keenan, the homeless charity’s chief development officer, said: “The Women’s Institute in Swindon have been long term supporters of Threshold, making annual donations of money to support our work, but also regular donations of blankets, clothes, hats and other items that members have made for the homeless.

“We really appreciate the support that members provide each year and it is a pleasure to be here to join in celebrating their hundredth 100th anniversary,” he added.

“Threshold have only been serving the vulnerable in Swindon for 47 years, so just shy of a half-century celebration, so we are quite young in contrast to the WI, but fortunately we share similar aims, to improve the lives of others.

“It is great that Swindon has a number of associations, clubs and other types of community groups who share our aims and work hard, and collaboratively contribute to sustaining a caring and generous community across Swindon Borough”.

WI members have also been busy making kitted items such as quilts, woollen beanies, gloves, scarves and blankets for Threshold to distribute to the town’s homeless in the coming colder months.

Pamela Goulding, a member of the WI said “We are really very happy to support Threshold, we’re always impressed with the work they do in helping Swindon’s homeless, and all the important key work that their team undertakes to support people back on their feet, into jobs and into safe housing.

More than 90 people joined in the afternoon party

“It’s been a really special celebration,” said Mrs Mould. “I was up at 6am and made 190 scones, and we’ve made so many sandwiches and an amazing array of cakes.”

She added: “We’ve had some fantastic entertainment throughout the afternoon and our celebration has all been possible from money that we have raised from coffee mornings and trips.”

An array of baked goods were on sale, alongside live music, a raffle and a selection of hand knitted items crafted by the ladies themselves. “Today was free to everybody and we invited many people who were lonely or experiencing isolation,” she added.

The WI was founded in 1897 in Canada, and arrived in Britain in 1915. By the end of 1919 there were 1405 WIs across the UK, including the Ermin Street branch. The organisation was initially formed to encourage women to help increase the supply of food in the war-torn nation.