Bulletin no. 30 (June 2020)

Chair’s welcome

Welcome to the June issue of CEDU3A’s Bulletin. We have been keeping busy! A special ‘thank you’ to our conveners and other group members for maintaining group and other activities.
 

Despite the restrictions, and certainly compared with other U3As around the country, we are doing very well with keeping in touch with each other. The situation for CEDU3A has not changed even with the slight easing of the restrictions coming into place this week – please look at our website for regular updates on Covid-19 and its impact on our activities.
 

Executive Committee Officers (Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary, Treasurer and Groups’ Organiser) have been meeting every fortnight via Zoom to keep the situation under review, to ensure we are doing all we can to keep active and involved at this time and plan for the future. For example, we are looking into venues where we could hold our monthly meetings once lockdown is over, but while social distancing is still in place. To get the same numbers attending as previously, we will need bigger spaces. Do let me have any suggestions of suitable local venues.
 

Next week we will be holding our first Executive Committee via Zoom. Until now we have kept in touch via emails and WhatsApp. A summary of any decisions made at that meeting will be available on our website shortly afterwards. One of the items we’ll be discussing will be whether to hold our Annual General Meeting (delayed from April), via Zoom. If we do, to be quorate, we will need at least 80 of you to participate.
 

By the time you receive this, we will have had our first monthly talk, by Dr Peter Webb on Van Gogh. Please see below for details of our upcoming talk, Our homes for our future, by Janet Sutherland. If you would like to give a talk (for example, maybe you did a presentation to your interest group that was particularly well received and could be of interest to the wider membership) or know anyone who would be willing and able to, please contact me.
 

I want to give a special mention to the amazing work Rose Slayden, our Textiles Convener, has been doing making scrubs and scrubs bags for local hospitals. Not only has she used her own stash of fabric, she has also gathered old duvets and material from friends and neighbours and has recycled them into cheerful scrubs which have been warmly welcomed by local hospitals as well as Great Ormond Street. Is anyone else helping out like Rose? Do let me know.
 

Finally, I write below of the very sad news of the recent death of one of our Executive Committee members, Nicky Lane. Our thoughts are with her husband, David, and their two children, Pasca and Jem, and their families at this unhappy time.
 

Take care and keep well everyone.
 

Sally, chair@cedu3a.org.uk

Nicky Lane

It is with great sadness that we received news that Nicky Lane had passed away on May 13. Nicky had been a member of the CEDU3A Executive Committee from the outset. I first met her at the meeting in late summer 2017 where those present were putting themselves forward to fulfil various roles on the new Steering Committee, which became the Executive Committee at our first AGM in 2019. At that meeting Nicky offered to lead on publicity and from then, until recently, she was also a member of the Committee’s Publicity group. Nicky also compiled and produced the monthly bulletins, which I know members have enjoyed reading and find invaluable for keeping in touch. Nicky was also a member of the History group and for a short time Conversational Spanish. She will be greatly missed by all her colleagues.
 
The much-loved wife of David and mother of Pasca and Jem, Nicky battled against a long illness of breast cancer, diagnosed and treated first in 1993 and then unfortunately recurring in 2012. Despite being very sociable, with regard to her illness she was private, and her preference, and way of coping, was to speak little about it.
 
Her husband, David, whom some of you will know as he is also a CEDU3A member, told me that her two life-long passions were literature and creative arts. She belonged to two local book groups and writing groups – a number of her short pieces have been published – and also edited several books. Anyone who has had the pleasure of going to Nicky and David’s house will have admired the wonderful glass work on display. Nicky took up working with fused glass about six years ago. She loved to experiment with the colours and showed an amazing artistic talent.
 
Nicky received excellent end of life care at the Marie Curie Hospice in Hampstead to which a donation has been made on behalf of CEDU3A in memory of Nicky. Individual donations are also welcomed.

Monthly Talks

Tuesday 7 July, 11am -12.15 pm via Zoom
Janet Sutherland : Our homes for Our Future

 
Will our homes support our independence as we grow older? Or do we want to move? Let’s each do a ‘Homes for Life’ review: Will my home be easy to live in and maintain, close to amenities and transport? What changes do I need to make, and when should I make them?
 
If we would like to move, what would we like to move to, and when is the best time to make the move? I will provide some examples of moves made by local CEDU3A members and some images of inspirational ideas, in the UK and beyond. Our ideas could help shape our future choices, together we can influence. The right home can add years of independent living.
 
Janet Sutherland is a CEDU3A member and freelance consultant specialising in housing, urbanism and regeneration, with an interest in housing for older people, and is part of a national U3A group ‘Future Lives’. Janet has held senior housing positions with Lewisham and Camden, and was Director, JTP Cities and a Board Member and Chair of the Services Delivery Committee of Aldwyck Housing Group. She is a Director of the Academy of Urbanism and a member of Catalyst’s Customer Experience Committee, London Housing LIN’s steering group, Crouch End Neighbourhood Forum and the Chartered Institute of Housing.
 
Tuesday 4 August, 11am -12.15 pm via Zoom
Gordon Hutchinson : A History of Alexandra Park

 
Gordon Hutchinson is aCEDU3A member and Chair of the Friends of Alexandra Park

New groups

It was brave for conveners to set up two new groups during the lockdown, but there has been much interest in both. Mindfulness will be posting a new guided audio practice in June, along with along with Nick Carroll’s latest reflections and information on further resources https://cedu3a.org.uk/guided-mindfulness-practice-online/.
 
Historical Fiction has held its first successful Zoom meeting and has chosen two books: The Winter Ghosts, by Kate Mosse and Beware of Pity, by Stefan Zweig. New members are welcome https://cedu3a.org.uk/historical-fiction/.

Keeping in touch

Facebook

 
With 245 CEDU3A members using our Facebook group, our U3A’s success in engaging with social media has been admired on national Facebook pages by other U3As, frustrated by their own members’ reluctance to embrace this extra level of involvement in local activities and stories. Recent posts on our page have included photos of the hospital scrubs made by our Textiles Convener, Rose Slayden (see above), news and photos from a Zoom Wine Appreciation Group meeting and regular photo updates on the newly born cygnets on the New River.

 
If you don’t want to miss out on updates from members, but have doubts about using Facebook, it is possible to set up an account using a nom de plume and create a separate email account for Facebook use only. You would have to let us know if you choose this route so that we can approve you as a member of our Facebook group, but it could be another way for you to communicate with others at a time when we are forced to be apart.
 
Website
 
Please make a mental note to check our website: https://cedu3a.org.uk/ at least once a week for the latest news on our activities, national U3A updates and a wide range of digital resources. For example, we have a fun Travel Quiz on the website set by We’re Talking Travel: you are welcome to have a go: https://cedu3a.org.uk/2020/05/15/travel-quiz/. Send your answers to news@cedu3a.org.uk. There are no prizes, but the conveners will let you know how you got on. There will be more travel quizzes coming up next month.

Our interest groups

Conveners continue to work hard to keep us connected and engaged and are calling on all our skills to keep in touch as the current crisis slowly begins to recede and what is to be the new normal gradually emerges.
 
Email, telephone, WhatsApp, Facebook, Facetime, newsletters, streamed digital entertainment and videoconferencing via Zoom enable us to retain a semblance of human interaction, members joining each other online, which is proving to be an inestimable boon. We now have some 30 groups using Zoom Pro and, with some success, enabling meetings to take place in your own sitting room. Members have reported that meetings are often more focused and very enjoyable with time to ‘chat’, drink, discuss and make and/or listen to great music. Many groups have managed more frequent meetings.
 
The ability to carry on holding meetings and interact is crucial to members’ happiness and wellbeing. Being able to be as normal as possible over video links is important and reassuring, so please join in and enjoy.
 
How groups are continuing with meetings
 
Zoom is currently used by:
 
1960s/1970s
Americana
Art appreciation 1: meetings are every two weeks rather than monthly and each has a theme which has been researched and discussed. Using the free Zoom option, which limits meetings to 40 minutes, members are usually able to have a second session after a short break. ‘Meetings are focused and stimulating.’
Birdwatching: using a virtual meeting to share a live video of a nesting bird. Also keeping up via WhatsApp: sharing reports, photos and videos of sighting in gardens and exercise walks.
Book group 1
Crime fiction 1 and 2
Current affairs
Decluttering
Economics
French book club
Gardening
Historical fiction
History
In-depth current affairs
Italian conversation 1
Italian conversation 2
Italian 3 advanced and intermediate
Jazz and improvised music – meeting on Zoom. Communication through Facebook
Latin
Members’ coffee mornings (see below)
Photography
Play reading
Recorder
Spanish conversation 1
Ukulele: ‘Zoom [is] changing what we do, not necessarily for the worse. Just different. Expanding technical knowledge’
Wine and more
Wine appreciation
World literature
 
Please note: where the convener or another group member is paying the monthly charge for Zoom Pro, the Committee has agreed that these charges will be reimbursed until the lockdown is over. This new policy will be backdated to the beginning of the lockdown. Please contact Diana on groups@cedu3a.org.uk for more information.
 
SKYPE is currently used by Writing 1 and 2.
 
Facetime is being used by Quilting and Patchwork for individual queries.
 
How groups are continuing without meetings
 
Art appreciation 2 has an ‘Artist of the Week’ and is sharing information about available resources, such as the ArtUK database.Backgammon can be played online using http://www.justbackgammon.com
Craft groups are using WhatsApp.
Exhibitions and Galleries is circulating a weekly newsletter to their members, with cultural recommendations, reviews and other information compiled by group contributors. The convener commented that ‘[it is] envisaged as nearly equivalent to members’ chat round a café table after visits’. The newsletter has been warmly received, with some 30 members sending a contribution and 50 members requesting to receive it. The fourth edition currently being collated.
Gardening is sharing tips now the gardening season is under way.
Geology conveners are issuing a fortnightly newsletter. Group members’ verdict – ‘excellent’.
Outings is continuing to share the convener’s weekly diary. It is in the early stage of establishing a WhatsApp group ‘Omnipotent Explorers U3A”.
Patchwork and Quilting is using WhatsApp and Facebook for keeping in touch and FaceTime for individual queries.
Poetry for Pleasure is continuing to use WhatsApp to share poetry as a basis for discussion.
Photographers and Photography has a page on Flickr to share their photographs https://www.flickr.com/groups/14711881@N21/pool/
Singing group members are emailed a ‘song of the day’ by their convener.
We’re Talking Travel has set up an online blog for members to post their travel stories and photographs. All CEDU3A members are able to view at www.mywtt.org.

Volunteering

Although we are social distancing, there are still a couple of ways you can contribute to the running of CEDU3A.
 
We need:
 
— participants to join the Bright Ideas Online Group. Contact Sally on chair@cedu3a.org.uk
— members to become part of the News@… editorial team, suggesting ideas and finding and writing up items and stories for the newsletter: news@cedu3a.org.uk.
 
Happily, someone has stepped forward to help run the monthly talks.
 
Check out the dedicated web page at https://cedu3a.org.uk/volunteer/ for more details of these roles and others that will be coming up soon.

Coffee mornings

We have held three successful virtual coffee mornings, via Zoom. The next meeting is 11.00-11.45 am, Friday 12 June. If you would like to join this, or future, mornings please contact Jacki via https://cedu3a.org.uk/coffee-mornings/.

Third Age Newsletter

The Third Age Trust, the national body for U3As, is using the national newsletter to keep members informed on the latest government advice concerning Covid-19. The newsletter includes information, stories and advice from across the U3A movement on how to keep safe and occupied during this difficult time. Sign up on https://www.u3a.org.uk/newsletter.

Third Age Matters

Third Age Trust also publishes the bi-monthly magazine Third Age Matters, free to members. To receive copies email membership@cedu3a.org or you can read it online https://www.u3a.org.uk/resources/publications/tam-text. The next issue will be out in June.