Message from the Outgoing Chair
Just over three years ago I was sitting round a kitchen table in Muswell Hill with a friend and three strangers planning the local U3A inaugural meeting in June 2017. We were getting accustomed to the new language of U3A terms and structure, something I thought I’d left behind at my local authority job!
We all know what happened after that, and by December that year we had over 250 paid-up members and 20 interest groups. We now have over 800 members and close to 100 groups.
As I hand on the Chair’s role in these exceptional times, I’m sad to not have the chance to see many of you at the AGM, but there will be an opportunity at a later date to bid a personal farewell and to share our memories and achievements.
It has been a privilege to be part of the genesis of our U3A and to work with so many generous, talented people – group conveners, committee members, volunteers and fellow members. We now have a well-earned reputation as a welcoming, inclusive U3A.
I’m delighted that Sally Whitaker (formerly Vice Chair) will take on the role of Chair and want to thank her for her wisdom and support to me these past years.
I hope to see you before too long when CEDU3A resumes and wish you all good health and courage during these difficult times.
Sue Felgate (Chair 2017-2020)
With Sue Felgate (Chair) and Ed Allen (Membership Secretary) standing down from the Committee, we welcome three new trustees on board: Brenda Dardelin, who is our Beacon system administrator; Charlie Sharp, who will take over from Ed as Membership Secretary; and Llorett Kemplen, who organises the new members’ coffee mornings and is the contact for those members who do not use the internet. Sally Whitaker replaces Sue Felgate as Chair.
Committee members are in regular email contact with each other, keeping the impact of the emergency under review and planning for CEDU3A opening again for business later in the year.
We are working with group conveners to find alternative ways of keeping in touch. Some are highlighted below, along with a link to our website, where a range of digital resources is listed for you to explore. We will keep you up to date on future plans by email, post to non-internet users, and these bulletins.
The website is still going strong and is a great source of information. We are posting the latest government advice and tips for coping with having to stay at home for extended period. We would very much like members to share experiences of managing in the current situation for example, which ways of communicating with each other have been the most and least successful? If you have anything to share please email email@example.com. Any information will be added to the website.
We also have an Online Resources Guide that gives suggestions for websites for members to investigate: there is an enormous range. Any suggestions for additions to this guide, which is still in its infancy, will be really appreciated. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Facebook group, with over 220 members, is very active, providing a discussion forum on all matters to do with CEDU3A. If you are not a member please think about signing up. Some interest groups are also setting up their own Facebook groups to share information and photographs. Another great Facebook group to sign up to is U3A UK: which runs the U3A: keeping in touch group, with regular posts from members of other U3As around the country including quizzes, maths brain-teasers, jokes and more … >
How to keep in touch
CEDU3A group conveners and members are an innovative bunch in the face of adversity, rising to the occasion in all sorts of ways, embracing phone, internet and social media and offering support to combat any sense of isolation. Conveners have been working hard to keep us connected, healthy, active and engaged.
These are early days. A number of interest groups are exploring other options so it is all very much work in progress. Here are some examples to help you think about what your group could do.
Email: most groups that were using Beacon, or bcc emails, have agreed that cc emails is used instead, enabling members to email each other, exchange phone numbers and establish an ‘email community’. A comment from one convener ‘I set up an email community and we all opened a bottle of wine at 7pm (time and date of usual meeting), said what we were drinking and how it tasted. Everyone sent a picture and, more importantly, we had fun’.
WhatsApp: already used by many groups and more regularly in the current circumstances.
For more contact options see https://cedu3a.org.uk/keep-in-touch
How Groups are continuing without meetings
▢ Art Appreciation Group members are each picking an artist of the week and sharing information about what resources are available online.
▢ The Gardening Group is sharing tips now the gardening season is under way and several other groups are working on finding ways to keep in touch.
▢ The Photographers and Photography Group has a page on Flickr to share their photographs.
▢ The Poetry Group is sharing poems and discussion.
▢ Singing Group members are emailed a song a day by their convener.
▢ The We’re Talking Travel Group has set up an online blog for members to post their travel stories and photographs. All members can view this at www.mywtt.org
▢ Wine Appreciation Group members are sharing tips mainly in reference to difficulties in sourcing and suppliers still open for business. One member sent details of a recipe for beer making.
Groups having success with Zoom include:
▢ The Crime Fiction and Crime Fiction 2 Groups are planning to use, or are already using Zoom for group activity.
▢ The French Book Club had its first meeting last week and will be continuing with its activities.
▢ The Jazz and Improvised Music Group have had two Zoom sessions.
▢ The Ukulele Group had an experimental meeting to help those who are not familiar with Zoom, before going for broke …
▢ The World Literature Group is ready to go on Zoom.
New Online Groups
There are two new online groups starting up that members can join or view on our website:
Films group online ▷
Guided Mindfulness Practice
This group, convened by Helen Muller, will be offering information about mindfulness, a 30-minute audio Guided Mindfulness Practice led by U3A member Andy Metcalf, a column entitled Nick’s Reflections, and pointers to additional resources for those who wish to explore further. Full information will be available shortly so please keep an eye on the website for further details.
While we are socially distanced you can enjoy planning the future and thinking about how you can contribute to our CEDU3A by volunteering once normal activities are up and running again. Check out the dedicated web page at https://cedu3a.org.uk/volunteer/ for ideas, and get inspiration from the stories of Bryony, Jennifer, Paul and Vivien at https://cedu3a.org.uk/meet-our-volunteers
We have immediate need for people to support conveners and others trying to set up video conferencing systems for their groups. If you have experience in using Zoom, FreeConference, Skype or other videoconferencing systems, and would be happy to help others set up a system for their group, please contact email@example.com.
Third Age Trust Newsletter
We are also encouraging our members to sign up to the Third Age Trust Newsletter. The Trust is using the National U3A Newsletter to keep members informed on the latest government advice covering coronavirus Covid-19. It also has information, stories and advice from across the U3A movement on how to keep safe and occupied during this difficult time.
Fill in your details on the form on https://www.u3a.org.uk/newsletter to receive U3A updates, both regional and national, direct to your email inbox. Do check your email inbox after signing up: you will receive an email asking you to confirm your subscription. If you do not receive this email, please check your junk mail box.