Bulletin no. 34 (October 2020)

From the Chair

Welcome to the October Bulletin. I hope you’re keeping well and that your involvement in CEDU3A is providing interest and stimulation during these trying times. As we feared, restrictions are becoming tighter again as we head towards winter: our hope in March that ‘normal’ U3A activity would be resumed in around six months is not going to be realised. Never to be deterred, we will continue to provide support for you to meeting online and hopefully in person in whatever size groups we can for as long as necessary.

In this Bulletin you’ll find information on restarting groups – the ‘rule of 6’ means that meeting numbers are still very limited even for groups meeting outdoors, although we were very pleased to learn that walks and some sporting activities could still go ahead with larger numbers under the current guidance – please read this carefully.

We’ve got online speakers lined up now from October to December across a range of topics. I’d encourage as many of you as possible to sign up for them – we’ve had very positive feedback from past talks. Our second newsletter, News@, was very well received and if you haven’t seen it you can download a copy here.

National U3A announced at its recent AGM that it will be starting a rebrand in October and we will be updating our communications, website and social media accordingly. I hope you like the new look (you can see a preview on the CEDU3A Facebook page).

Finally, if you have been meeting with other U3A members and you or a member of your household have the misfortune to contract the coronavirus, please let us know immediately so we can ensure those that need to be are informed.

Thank you all very much for your continuing support. Please contact me on chair@cedu3a.org.uk if you have any queries. Happy reading.

Sally, Chair

Online talks

The talks will be delivered online via Zoom. Registration is recommended

8 October 2020
Will Rathouse : The Archaeology of the Thames Foreshore

Register …

Tuesday 20 October 2020
Al Johnson : The Art of Recovery

Register …

Tuesday 10 November 2020
Luisa Welch : Cheers! : A History of Wine
Thursday 26 November 2020
Sandra Clark : Women and Crime in Shakespeare’s time
Tuesday 15 December 2020
Peter Webb : My Day with Dali

Special Online talk by David Hepworth

The 60s and 70s Group extends an invitation to all CEDU3A members to hear a talk by writer and broadcaster David Hepworth about his book: Overpaid, Oversexed and Over There: How a Few Skinny Brits with Bad Teeth Rocked America. David will give his talk, via Zoom, to the group’s meeting on Thursday, October 15 at 2.00 p.m. Registration is recommended.
Register …
Have you particularly enjoyed a presentation by a member of your interest group or had one recommended by a friend in another group? Would you be prepared to repeat a presentation you’ve done to your group members or an external group? We have so much expertise, knowledge and interests (niche and wider) among our members, it seems a shame not to share it outside our established groups. We are looking for members, either self-selected or recommended, to present a short talk via Zoom (20-30 minutes with a short Q & A session) in the new year. I’m looking forward to hearing from you via chair@cedu3a.org.uk.


Our U3A Facebook group is thriving and is a good reminder that many events are happening locally despite current restrictions. Our lovely conveners have managed to organise virtual activities and, more recently, physical meet-ups: many members have posted photos and welcomed comments. Anyone who joins our Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/300181150556772 ) can add to the page, so do please engage with it and share your news and information about U3A and other local events. All we ask is that you are courteous at all times when commenting and that, to respect people’s privacy, you do not contact fellow members using Messenger unless requested to do so. If you have concerns about a particular post, please inform the administrator, Jacqui Osley, by private message who will pass on your comments/concerns to the relevant Committee member.

Temporary changes to membership subscriptions

As a consequence of COVID-19 restrictions, it has not been possible to offer members the full range of planned activities. As a result, our expenditure this year has been less than half of what we had budgeted for. The Executive Committee has therefore decided that the renewal subscription for existing members will be reduced to £15 (from £35). The concessionary rate will remain at £5 because the fee we are obliged to pay the Third Age Trust per member exceeds that amount. As we are anticipating that it may not be possible to provide all the activities we would like to offer during some, or perhaps most, of next year, the Executive has also decided that new members who take out a membership subscription for and during 2021 will be asked to pay only £25. Please note that these are temporary arrangements and we expect to revert to a £35 subscription for all members in 2022.

Restarting groups

National U3A has recently published detailed guidelines (dated 14 September and updated 21 September, largely unchanged), covering both indoor and outdoor activities. The main changes to earlier government and National U3A regulations/guidance are summarised here. Under these new restrictions interest groups must not meet in a group of more than six, either indoors or outdoors. A number of groups have been meeting outside in our gardens over the summer. They, along with other groups, may wish to meet inside people’s homes or at external venues, subject to current government regulations/U3A national guidance, assessments and with particular regard to the needs of our most vulnerable members.
Responses to the questionnaire circulated to all conveners in early August (for the particular attention of those convening the 50 groups which prior to lockdown met in our homes), suggest that there is little appetite for restarting meeting indoors with groups of six. Of the 45 responses only a handful said they were considering this as an option, either on its own or in conjunction with meeting online. A further seven groups were interested in the possibility of meeting in an external venue such as the Union Church where the rule of 6 now applies. Most of the remaining 30 groups wanted to continue with online activity – meeting virtually, exchanging emails. Continued feedback suggests that many groups have adapted to virtual meeting platforms such as Zoom in a way that at the outset they had not thought possible. It may well be that this will stay with us beyond the Covid-19 crisis, with a number of groups expressing a wish to continue in the longer term with hybrid arrangements – Zoom for some meetings and an option to meet in small groups/independent activities for others.
For many of us nothing can replace face-to-face meetings, which have long been considered central to all U3A activities. For the time being virtual meeting platforms help to bring us together and keep activities going as you have demonstrated.

Groups’ update

It has been good to see outdoor groups meeting again. Members seem particularly keen to return to outdoor activities given the greater opportunity to maintain social distancing and keep up with physical exercise. There had been much uncertainty as to whether most recent regulations and guidance from the government, U3A and sports governing bodies would enable planned Longer Walks, Middle Distance Walks, Badminton, Tennis and Birdwatching to go ahead. With much relief they are able to continue with planned activities. Our Outings group has a planned walk along the canal coming up and it is hoped that the Table Tennis group may have found a home.
Current Affairs in Depth
The Group is looking for a new member to join a small, close-knit group of eight – (but currently seven) – who explore, in depth, issues of topical importance. The expectation is that all members will attend regularly, undertake some prior reading, and occasionally present brief papers on a particular aspect of a chosen topic. In non-pandemic times, the group meets in members’ homes for two hours every second Wednesday of the month; we are currently meeting via Zoom. Our next two topics are: ‘The Justice System’ and, in November, ‘The US Election’. Do contact the convener, Paul Wedgbury, via this link to find out more.
French Conversation
Our two new French Conversation groups – French Conversation Intermediate 1 and 2 – have recently started. Both are meeting in person and so are limited to six members (including the convener). For more information see https://cedu3a.org.uk/2020/09/22/new-french-conversation-groups/.
Conveners needed
Groups cannot go ahead without conveners and it is very straightforward to become one. We give you lots of help and support, especially as the current pandemic requires additional administration, including Risk Assessments. These are nothing to fear and we can help you with setting them up.
Short Local Walks
Short walks have been very popular and as Oonagh has stepped down from convening the Short Walks Group we need a small team to share responsibility for organising walks. We are at present emphasising local walks, within four miles, to limit the need to travel on public transport and to enable easier access. With a small team, the administrative burden will be much reduced, and you may only need to lead a group every month or so. We will give full support in drawing up Risk Assessments. Please note we are only looking for potential leaders at this stage – please email newgroups@cedu3a.org.uk if you are interested.

German Conversation
We need convener/s to continue the two German Conversation groups (Beginner/ Intermediate and Advanced). If you are interested, please email groups@cedu3a.org.uk.
If you are interested in convening this group please email groups@cedu3a.org.uk.

CEDU3A Policies

As a charity and a membership organisation it is very important that we have policies and procedures in place to protect and support our members and guide our work. You will find several such policies and associated documents on our website at https://cedu3a.org.uk/policies/. Please read them carefully. Any queries or actions in relation to a policy and/or procedure should be directed to secretary@cedu3a.org.uk or chair@cedu3a.org.uk in the first instance unless stated otherwise. Our policies are reviewed, and where necessary revised, on a three-year cycle (or earlier if circumstances require). Recent revised policies include Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Complaints, and a Code of Conduct statement for members.

From National U3A

The History and highlights of Kew Gardens – surprising stories
An online talk by Patricia Gentry on Monday 5 October 2020 beginning at 11 a.m, via Zoom. You will hear fascinating stories of suffragette arson, giant waterlilies and the world’s smallest Royal Palace. Meet ‘the loneliest bachelor in the world’ and plants that save people from illness, and get useful advice on what not to miss on your next visit to Kew Gardens. You will learn that it is not only a place of natural beauty but also a scientific institution at the forefront of saving our planet from extinction.
The charge for this reading will be just £6 per person. The lecture will be approx. 50 min–1 hour 15 min time for questions and answers. For further information email Peter Lewinson: lewinson.peter12@gmail.com.
Research request
A researcher at the University of East London is investigating the impact of social cognition, social contact and coping strategies, on loneliness and psychological distress in older adults during COVID-19 social distancing. The study takes the form of this online survey, which is aimed at those aged 70 and above.
The CEDU3A Executive Committee has not undertaken any checks or due diligence on the relevant department or the study itself and accepts no liability whatsoever if you decide to participate. If you choose to take part in any study, you do so at your own risk and in your own capacity and not as a U3A member. You should make sure that you understand all the risks associated with any study before you sign up and ensure that you understand the time commitment, any restrictions and possible side effects. You should also ensure that you will be insured as part of the study.

U3A Radio Podcast

The first U3A radio podcast wasp officially launched after the national AGM on 29 September, featuring a series of interviews and features from across the movement around theme of looking forward. There will be another podcast before Christmas. Please tune into https://youtu.be/9zGNxpUSUAc. If you have an interesting story to tell, email communications@u3a.org.uk.