Although all face to face group activity will have to cease from Thursday until we are told otherwise, we will continue to offer our online talks each month; I hope you are joining in and finding them interesting. Future talks are listed below.
In the Groups item, Diana gives an update on what groups are doing online via Zoom, Whats App and email. I must say a big ‘thank you’ to you all – the Groups’ team, conveners and members alike – for working together, supporting each other and adapting as changes in restrictions come in.
I’m aware these bulletins are rather long for an email and so I will keep this introduction as short as possible. But please read the email to the end: as you will see from the contents list there are interesting updates and news right the way through.
So for the next few weeks sadly the walking, outings, birdwatching, tennis and badminton groups which were starting to meet again, will not be able to meet, but our activities can thankfully continue.
Please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any queries.
I wish you all stay safe and well.
Online talks in November
Tuesday 10 November 11.00 am – 12.15 pm.
Luisa Welch: Cheers! A History of Wine
Thursday 26 November 11.00 am – 12.15 pm.
Sandra Clark: Women and Crime in Shakespeare’s time
Tuesday 15 December 11.00 am – 12.15 pm.
Peter Webb: My Day with Dali
We are coming to the end of our membership year 2020. As noted in last month’s bulletin, the fee for existing members will be £15, or £5 at the concessionary rate. This reflects the fact that we have not been able to offer all the activities we would have wished this year.
In December we will be sending out emails/letters asking you to renew your subscription for 2021 (during December or January) and outlining how to do so. The easiest way for us, is for you to renew online. Although this uses PayPal, you do not have to have a PayPal account to use it – it will accept any debit or credit card. Other ways to pay will be listed in the email. If you have any queries please email email@example.com.
CEDU3A recently submitted a claim for a Gift Aid rebate and HMRC has sent us just over £1500. This is good news and we encourage all of you to give consent to claiming Gift Aid reimbursement in future years. We are entitled to 25p for every pound we receive in subscriptions, so it is really worthwhile having. If you are a taxpayer, please give your consent when you renew your subscription (see above).
Once again some of our planned activities have been ‘paused’, having only recently restarted: walks, outings, bird watching, tennis and badminton; and some, such as table tennis, were about to start but now cannot. We shall wait to hear what restrictions remain after November.
We know that few of our 50+ groups who previously met in our homes will depart from Zoom or other social media platforms any time soon and certainly have little appetite to meet indoors even if able to do so. A number of virtual groups have been drawing up plans for festive events such as quizzes. Some groups are meeting virtually more frequently than previously when they met face-to-face. However, Zoom is not for everyone and included below is a report from the convener of one of our two Poetry Groups, who use WhatsApp and emails very successfully to keep in touch. Maybe your group could do something similar
Longer Walks – John Hemingway
On March 12 2020 the longer walks group completed a 10-mile circuit in the Darent Valley. Little did we know that this would be our last group walk for six months! The first hope of a return came in August, when changes to the lockdown rules allowed ‘organised outdoor physical activity’ under certain circumstances. Using guidance produced by Ramblers and National U3A, we began planning for the reintroduction of group walks. This meant doing a detailed Covid-19 risk assessment with mitigation measures to reduce the level of risk to members and the general public. Realising there was no way we would be able to replicate the comprehensive pre-lockdown programme, our risk assessment resulted in smaller group sizes, but with the walk repeated so that as many members as possible were able to join in. And so, on September 10, and under blue skies, a group of 12 assembled in Royston for our first post lockdown walk – an 11-mile circuit of the countryside to the south of the town, culminating with a delightful ridge walk over the Pen Hills. It felt great to be back – let’s hope it’s not too long before we can walk together again.
Poetry – Patricia Isaacs
During spring lockdown, being keen to maintain contact with our lovely group, I began circulating a poem by email every Monday. Deafness makes Zoom an ordeal for me, but everyone was happy to stay in touch by email. A weekly poem has led to comments and conversations and other poems: sometimes amusing verses, sometimes poems with a deep meaning requiring a lot more thought, and some written by our members. We miss our joyous face-to-face meetings, but when Covid is vanquished we shall meet again as a cohesive group.
Volunteer – we’d love to hear from you
Telephone help with IT
We are thinking of offering a telephone help service for u3a members who are hesitant to use various software, such as emails, Zoom or the internet in general. The idea is that, firstly, we collect the names of any u3a members who are fairly confident in using most commonly used software and would be prepared to offer telephone help. The next stage would be to ask members if they would like to use the service. If you would be happy to help, please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have you thought of becoming a group convener?
This could be for something entirely new or maybe, for instance, another birdwatching or another walks group. It’s very simple – if you are interested just email Graham Bennett on email@example.com. Graham will guide you through naming, describing and advertising your group. You don’t need to be an expert in your topic – just reasonably good at organising. Group members will help decide the format and guide each other.
At this time, most of the groups still meeting are using Zoom. But some are full, and we would love to have more. Graham will help you to set up a Zoom Pro account (paid for by CEDU3A). If Zoom isn’t for you, Graham can help you explore possibilities for meeting up while respecting social distancing and other factors, or plan for easier times. Email Graham as above or see the Groups page on our website.
Our own Facebook page is flourishing, with several members contributing regularly, but did you know that there are other U3A Facebook groups you can join? The U3A UK page is run by our central organisation; posts include details of virtual gallery visits, online talks and policy changes.
U3A UK Facebook Page
U3A: Keeping in Touch is a chattier group, where members from all over the country share items on anything from visits to country houses and gardens to their views on pandemic restrictions, being a grandparent, living alone and any other matters which concern them. There are often also puzzles and jokes.
Craft U3A is for anyone to share photos of items they have made, many of which are very beautiful and some of which may inspire you to try a new craft yourself.
A chance to donate to charity?
A personal thought from CEDU3A member Stephen Lustig
The announcement in our last bulletin: ‘The Executive Committee has therefore decided that the renewal subscription for existing members will be reduced to £15 (from £35)’, made me reflect on being lucky enough to be able to afford £35 without a problem, so I will give the saved £20 to charity. And that made me think that if all members of CEDU3A donated that £20 to charity, it would amount to over £12,000!I know that many CEDU3A members donate regularly to charity, but wondered if you might also donate that £20 saved to a local charity – it may give them the boost they need right now.
Prestigious US prize for Ian Christie
Many of you will remember Professor Ian Christie’s talk to our U3A in November 2019 on an unsung hero and pioneer of early cinema, Robert Paul. We heard last week that Ian has been awarded the prestigious US Theatre Library Association’s Richard Wall Memorial Award for 2019 for his book Robert Paul and the Origins of British Cinema (Chicago University Press). The book is the result of twenty years’ research, during which many unknown Paul films have been discovered in archives from New Zealand to Norway, Sweden, Britain and the US Library of Congress. Latest discoveries in the BFI National Archive can be seen at https://player.bfi.org.uk/free/collection/robert-paul, and other Paul films are viewable on YouTube. Ian is Professor of Film and Media History at Birkbeck College, University of London, a Visiting Professor at Gresham College, London and a Fellow of the British Academy. He is a regular broadcaster and former president of Europa Cinemas.