Welcome to the Scottish Women’s Institutes. Scotland’s leading member based organisation created by women in 1917, designed to bring women together, with a vision to welcome every woman in Scotland to join us.

We are here to educate, to share, to campaign, to learn, to socialise, to build a community and of course, to have fun.

From life skills and arts and crafts to raising awareness of current affairs affecting women and helping inform government issues, the SWI is proud of its heritage and our future vision.

Be part of the SWI. Join us to learn how to make that perfect scone… and a bit more too!

The SWI Bear

We would like to introduce OB – Office Bear. The bear was made by a former National Judge who gifted it to the SWI along with  other craft work. As the bear has been in Headquarters reception for a while, we thought he deserved a name and would like members to help us out. If you would like to enter, please email your suggestion to educ.int@theswi.org.uk. The competition will run until 28th February and the National Chairman will pick the winner out of a hat. The competition is open to everyone with no age limits and the prize is a SWI Goodie Bag.


Subscribe to the SWI monthly magazine for only £2.00 per issue
Like to receive your copy? Call us on 0131 225 1724 or email to find out more and to be added to our subscription list.
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Learn about events, competitions, interesting features, Federation and Institute updates, Headquarter news plus browse our images showcasing monthly activities.

In this month's magazine

Highlights from the February issue include:

  • Para athelete Kayleigh Haggo goes for gold
  • Members become stars of the small screen
  • Lifting the lid on Raynaud’s Disease
  • The Batch Lady cooks up a storm
  • Win skincare collection
  • Gourmet Pet Treats a hit with cats, dogs – and horses!

 Plus letters, local and national news, reviews, puzzles

Order your copy, for £2 plus P&P, from subscriptions@theswi.org.uk

We welcome all members to contribute with their own images, articles and news. Simply email magazine@theswi.org.uk.

If you don't currently receive the magazine but would like to subscribe to keep up to date with SWI news and enjoy reading a variety of features please contact subscriptions@theswi.org.uk


Advertise in Women Together

Reach around 17,000 women throughout Scotland by advertising in  Women Together, the monthly magazine of the SWI.
Reasonable rates and special discounts.

Why Advertise?
The SWI has around 16,000 members throughout Scotland. Most are 50+, often with rural backgrounds and interests. However, an increasing number of younger, urban based women, are now joining the organisation.

To reflect the needs of a new, younger readership, the magazine has recently been relaunched in a new A4 format with features on Beauty, Fashion, Food and Drink and Women’s Issues, as well as national updates and news from groups around the country.
Our advertising rates have been frozen at A5 prices until May 2016. So, you get twice the size for the same price!

Contact magazine@theswi.org.uk for further information and a complimentary copy of the magazine.

Full page £347; half page £174; quarter page £100; eighth page £65 (not inc VAT).
If you are an SWI member or a registered charity you receive 20% discount.
Reduced rates for serial ads and a free editorial with 3 consecutive ads.

Women Together Wants Your Features!

We welcome contributions from external writers.

We’re looking for features on a wide range of subjects including crafts, food and drink, women’s issues, travel, health, lifestyle and general interest. If you can supply high resolution, good quality photographs as well that would be a bonus! Length should be between 600 and 1200 words – and currently we’re particularly looking for longer articles. Fee negotiable.

Please send all copy to The Editor, magazine@theswi.org.uk, or SWI, 42 Heriot Row, Edinburgh EH3 6ES. Copy deadlines are the 26th of each month, eg 26 January for the March issue (out end of February).


Material submitted should be original. Although great care is taken with everything submitted, Women Together is not responsible for any loss or damage which may occur.


I wish you all a very happy new year and hope you are looking forward with enthusiasm to a new year in Scottish Women’s Institutes.  There are exciting times ahead with the prospect of a new constitution being approved in April to take the organisation forward. 

Soon we will be working on how we move forward with the SQAs and I hope you are all thinking about entering the Hamlyns competition, which you can read about elsewhere in this edition. Remember the entries have to be in by February, which is not too far away.  

We have also started the planning of the ACWW European Area Conference which we are honoured to be hosting in the autumn of 2020. We’ll provide more details about this exciting event as and when they become available.

Since my last column I managed a long weekend away with some of my family which tied in with a conference the men were attending in Wales. The “three little people” in the family were with us and we had great fun.

The trip to Arran for the Radio Play competition was eventful with ferries cancelled and members being stranded overnight. However, everyone eventually managed to get across the water and after a bit of readjusting times, a great afternoon was had by all.

My thanks to the Arran ladies and their husbands who pulled out all the stops to make sure everything went smoothly. Thank you also to all the teams and supporters who made the effort to get there under exceptional circumstances.

I had two trips to Lanarkshire Federation in the same week. Quathquan and Thankerton Institutes both celebrated their centenaries. The two Institutes were formed on the same day – one in the afternoon and one in the evening. I have not heard of this happening with any other Institutes. Both occasions were very different but equally enjoyable with a lot of fun, friendship and great hospitality.

Meetings week was exceptionally busy and I thank all convenors for taking very full meetings where many discussions and decisions took place. The week ended with an extra Central Council meeting to discuss and agree some of the proposed changes to the constitution.

Members aired their views and discussions took place on many points. The constitution committee will now take all points on board and the document will be again circulated to members as soon as the changes have been made to it.

I enjoyed a 60th birthday lunch with Balfron Institute members and their guests on 26 November.  It was lovely to meet up with many members from Stirling, Clackmannan and West Perthshire Federation and to present certificates to ladies who had given many years’ service to Balfron Institute.

On a personal note, my granddaughter Eilidh allowed me to attend a “stay and play” session at her nursery this week. It was very educational as the children were having a session on Makaton. 

I knew nothing about this but learned that it is sign language used with speech.  Using the appropriate signs, the children introduced themselves, then again using the signs they sang two songs. All the children were four years and under and did exceptionally well.

I have two 90th birthday parties and one 100th to look forward to in December and I am very excited about supporting the Feed the Minds Carol Concert where I have been invited to do a reading – more about these events next month.

Linda Retson

Meet Your Office Bearers

The office bearers were appointed following the central council in May 2017.

Linda Retson National Chairman

Anne Kerr Senior Vice Chairman

Anne Howat Junior Vice Chairman

Molly Sangster Honorary National Treasurer



SWI Policy Statements

The SWI has produced the following policy statements:

Portion Food Sizes

Reduction in Sugar Content

Use of Plastics

Feed the Mind



Perth SWI Junior Dippers

Perth SWI has launched a ‘Junior Dippers’ club for girls in P4-S4.

Building links with their local communities has never been more important, and in an effort to do just that, Perth has launched a ‘Junior Dippers’ club for girls in P4-S4. The first couple of sessions have been a huge hit, and over the next few months there will be more with baking, knitting, crafting, crochet, art and floristry all on the agenda.

It’s only £10 for an annual junior membership, and £2 per class to cover expenses. Classes run from 10.30am – 3pm and parents are encouraged to drop the kids off with a packed lunch and head for a coffee or do some shopping in town before coming back for them later.

I chatted with Linda Retson, who pitched the idea to the local federation, and is also the SWI national chairman, and she’s keen to see it succeed;

“The pilot scheme in Perth is one of the first of it’s kind, with a similar idea in Caithness having already taken off. We had 15 girls take part in our first session, and are keen to hear from many others who’d like to come along or register their interest. The idea behind ‘Junior Dippers’ is to give younger girls the opportunity to dip in and out of different crafts and skills, and give members a chance to pass on their expertise and share their passions.”


Lots of fun for all ages

I chatted with Linda Retson, who pitched the idea to the local federation, and is also the SWI national chairman, and she’s keen to see it succeed;

“The pilot scheme in Perth is one of the first of it’s kind, with a similar idea in Caithness having already taken off. We had 15 girls take part in our first session, and are keen to hear from many others who’d like to come along or register their interest. The idea behind ‘Junior Dippers’ is to give younger girls the opportunity to dip in and out of different crafts and skills, and give members a chance to pass on their expertise and share their passions.”

At the moment the group takes place at The Hub, on King Street in Perth, although an alternative venue may be sought if numbers increase, and they hope to introduce sport and outings later in the year. The next planned dates in 2018 are 26th May, 25th Aug, 24th Nov (which will be a special Christmas crafts theme with a show and tell to SWI members!), and depending on interest more dates may be added.

If you know a young girl who’d love to learn some new skills then get in touch or register your interest by contacting Heather on pandkfedsec@outlook.com

(An extract from Small City Big Personality, Perthshire’s online magazine. By Rhona Maxwell)


The SWI Cookbook is jam packed with recipes guaranteed to fulfil all tastes!


From simple starters and scrumptious soups through to mouth-watering main courses and delightful deserts, the cookbook has been created by members, professional chefs and celebrity chefs including:

  • Neil Forbes
  • Lady Claire Macdonald OBE
  • Nick Nairn
  • Tony Singh

Indulge in a mix of traditional and contemporary dishes and try out new meals for you and your family and friends.

The perfect gift to yourself, or to your friends and family! 


The SWI Online Members Area is now ready for you.

If you are already a member and registered to the website, simply login using your unique username and password. Or if you are a SWI member, but not registered to the website as yet, you can do that just now, it only takes a few minutes. Register here >

The Members Area is here to add content to and we encourage our members to contribute. Simply submit to hello@theswi.org.uk 


Why Join? Well, why not?

  • Be part of a nationwide group of women all with the same vision and passion for sharing and learning skills
  • Learn a new craft or skill in a sociable and welcoming environment local to you
  • Meet women with similar interests on a regular basis
  • Take part in social events and arts and craft competitions
  • Campaign on issues that matter to you and your community 



Only £45 one off initial fee for all new members who join online. And you will receive a free copy of our magazine each month*


Every week, every month and every year, we have a wide range of exciting events and activites that take place throughout Scotland.
These can be arranged at National level, Federation level or locally at Institute level.

View our Events Diary for a list of our forthcoming events >

Also keep up-to-date on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter !

Find Your Local Institute

We would love to welcome new members to any of our institutes so you can come along, enjoy the atmosphere, discover more about what we do, then select the institute that suits you best. You can join an institute for a small fee (approx £20-£35) per year and enjoy all the benefits of being a member.