You will have received the communication from NFWI dated 26 May 2023 regarding the new Denman proposal and details of the final stage in the Charity Commission consultation, which included a public notice of the intention to use part of the permanent endowment fund and the details of where to share your feedback. This consultation period has now ended, and we are delighted that the Charity Commission have formally concurred with the proposal.
The proposal was that we release £2.75m of the proceeds of the sale of Denman College to fund a new educational model, leaving the remaining funds (£4m) in permanent endowment accruing interest and ensuring a sustainable future for the Denman Trust.
We are therefore now able to finalise plans to launch ‘The WI Learning Hub, powered by Denman’, which we believe offers something for all WI members.
Our fundamental vision of the new model is one that offers free nationally available online education to WI members, supported by a fundraising and commercial strategy, making education more convenient and accessible for all. This means our online Denman at Home offer will continue as it is today. The new WI Learning Hub, and access to the free educational content for members, will be officially launched in January 2024, so please keep an eye out for further communications.
In addition, to support the continuation of in-person education, but not fixed in one physical location, we will be offering national grants to federations, along with expertise and support from our national team, to regionally expand the WI’s educational network based on the needs identified by members locally and in a way that can be accessed without significant travel or personal expense. More information about this will be shared in due course, so please bear with us while everything is put in place.
We believe this new model works for our members today, being inclusive, flexible, and accessible for all our members. When Denman was opened in 1948 it was innovative and filled an identified gap, and we hope this new initiative will ensure the Denman legacy lives on. The Denman Trust have been working hard to develop a model that is innovative and attractive to the membership both now and in the future, especially as we face overwhelming economic challenges and the cost of living continues to rise. We have also worked closely with other providers to see how they are responding and to ensure that we can offer something unique for members that doesn’t compete with the educational activities available locally, provided by federations or other providers.
We have been delighted with the enormous success of Denman at Home since its launch in Spring 2020 and know how much our members appreciate having an extensive online offer. But equally, we know how much members value the in-person teaching too, and it is important to us that this initiative allows for both and offers this in harmony with the educational offer in each federation.
Thank you so much for your continued patience and ongoing support, and please watch this space for further announcements in the coming months.
You will see below the concurrence from the Charity Commission agreeing with the resolution to access £2.75m of the permanent endowment for this new initiative.