As many of you know, I started as the website and publicity coordinator with NWR at the start of October and one of the things I was very keen to do was to visit a local group and attend an NWR meeting.
My local group is not very ‘local’, sadly, but last week I travelled to Kendal to meet the group there and attend their November meeting... and I couldn’t have been made to feel more welcome.
Although I feel I am starting to get a good feel for the organisation and I had spoken to many members about their experiences with NWR I still wasn’t exactly sure how the meeting would work. I didn’t even know the topic for the discussion!
My first impression as I walked through the door was of the warmth and openness of the members. Everyone seemed pleased to see me and I was immediately found a chair and welcomed to the group – no mean feat as it was a busy meeting with (I think) 14 or 15 people attending. The group started promptly and began their discussion – no time for chat or gossip and I realised that the motto of ‘NWR – more than coffee and a chat’ certainly applied to the Kendal group. The topic for discussion was revealed: PUBLIC CONVENIENCES...
How on earth could we discuss toilets for an hour and a half? I honestly thought we would run out of conversation very quickly, or that the discussion would descend into horror stories of bad experiences...
How wrong could I be? The discussion was fascinating and wide ranging. Members came with information about the Kendal Courtesy Toilet Scheme where local businesses and organisations provide free use of their loos now that the Council run facilities have closed. We also discussed whether councils should be providing free toilets when their spending was under such scrutiny and cuts. Another member gave a fascinating talk about a charity for people who have a condition called paruresis where they find it impossible to ‘go’ in public toilets (a more common problem than you would think and one which has huge impact on people’s lives. Check www.ukpt.org.uk for more details). We also talked about the futuristic high-tech toilets in Japan which automatically wash and dry the user; and how the technology is being used here in the UK to help people with mobility problems to maintain their independence. In between these quite serious discussions we had had some more light hearted moments – including a quiz!
It was only once everyone had been given the time to present their bit of research did we break for coffee, biscuits and a chat. This was a lovely opportunity for me to get to know a few of the members and find out more about why they joined NWR (and why they stay!).
My overall feeling? The Kendal group were exceptionally friendly and welcoming. Everyone was given time to talk if they wanted to and everyone was included. The discussion was stimulating and fun. And yes, I did learn a lot.
I’d like to thank all of the ‘lively minded women’ from Kendal that I met last week. I hope to see you all again soon – and next time I will come prepared!
For those of you who would like to see a photo of us all that evening, head over to the NWR Facebook page at www.facebook.com/nwr.uk I am the one in the middle of the photo holding what looks like a large tea cup; but as you can probably guess after reading this post is actually something quite different!