CEDu3a: Name Change and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Issues

1. Introduction

At the AGM on 20 April 2023 there were a number of questions raised about diversity, and, whether the name of Crouch End and District u3a inhibited those from a range of ethnic, racial and other groups from seeking membership. Several questioners referred to what they felt to be a “white, professional middle-class” bias – which is clearly reflected in our membership and the demographic of N8, N10 from where the majority of our members come. This led to questions about the name, and more generally, what had been done by CEDu3a to encourage as many people as possible from the diversity of Haringey’s population to join

2. Follow Up

The CEDu3a Executive Committee (EC) considered these questions carefully and agreed that a team of three Trustees (Sarah Dearman, Paul Wedgebury & Sally Whitaker) should consider the matter in depth and bring their conclusion to EC for discussion. The team felt it was important to look at the following: the history of CEDu3a, its context, what has been achieved and is currently being done to promote equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI), together with the other issues raised. It is hoped this will initiate a discussion about our future direction and what we can do differently/better to progress CEDu3a in accord with its principles

a) When and how did CEDu3a form?
CEDu3a was formed in 2017 when a group of individuals (many of whom knew each other already and mostly from Crouch End, Muswell Hill, Stroud Green and Finsbury Park) came together to explore the forming of a local u3a. There was already a u3a group in existence in the borough – Haringey u3a – but repeated attempts to engage with its members were unsuccessful. Haringey u3a is no longer operating. The other options for participating in u3a activities were North London,nBarnet and Islington u3as*: several of those who became CEDu3a members were already members of these. However it was felt that none of the neighbouring u3as could provide the opportunity for developing a distinctive organisation located in and serving the local community. So, with the agreement of the Third Age Trust, CEDu3a was created

b) Why was it decided to call it Crouch End and District u3a?
While those who had formed the initial group – several of whom became part of the steering committee – were from Crouch End and Muswell Hill etc, they did not want it to exclude anyone. Accordingly, the decision was reached to call it Crouch End and District u3a, and open it to “all those who live in Alexandra Park, Bounds Green, Crouch End, East Finchley, Fortis Green, Harringay, Highgate, Hornsey, Muswell Hill, Stroud Green, Tottenham, Wood Green or even areas further afield”,as stated on the Welcome page of the CEDu3a website. In promotion work since CEDu3a’s inception much effort has been put into attracting members from communities such as Wood Green, the “Harringay Ladder”, etc. It is only recently that the potential to extend further into the east of the borough, e.g. Tottenham, would be allowed by the Third Age Trust following the demise of Haringey u3a

c) What do we know about our current membership?
We fluctuate between a membership of 900 and 1000. A recent postcode analysis reveals that approximately half our members live in N8, a quarter in N10 and the rest from N22, N4, N6, N2, N17, N15 in descending order

❑ A ward analysis shows that Crouch End has a significantly larger proportion of residents whose ethnicity is White British (61.1%), compared to the wider Haringey population (34.7%). In terms of all other indices – housing, employment, income, life expectancy etc – Crouch End comes in the top three of the most privileged wards

❑ We know from feedback at our new member meetings that members see us as a local resource, especially when our target group is older. The possibility of creating new local friendships and networks can be valuable for people who are newly retired and who may not know many people in their neighbourhood

d) What has been done to promote EDI?
There have been a number of initiatives. Initially, considerable effort was made to engage with local faith, ethnic, race and community groups, e.g, Haringey over 50s, the West Indian Cultural Centre, doctors surgeries, etc. This was done by leafleting, personal contacts and visits. Subsequent initiatives have included Open Days, stalls at local community events and further leafleting and posters around the time of the Open Days

e) What is currently being done?
In late 2022 and early 2023 the EDI team was formed to take forward the work done by the earlier EDI sub-committee. It has developed a work plan, approved by the EC in May 2023, that includes:

• a members’ survey to analyse our membership to find out more about us: how representative
we are (see c) above), our needs, wishes, wants, etc
• liaison with external organisations via the Connected Communities programme to enable us to further reach out to under-represented groups
• liaison with other u3a groups to learn from their experience
• the drawing up of planning guidelines for events
• a review of all CEDu3a communications and literature
• a review of the CEDu3a Equality policy
• representation on and input into other CEDu3a teams to ensure all activities rare efracted
through EDI principles

It is recognised that there is always more that can be done and the EDI team is always open to new ideas and members. Contact Sally Whitaker at chair@cedu3a.org.uk

f) Issues
i) Capacity – we have a membership of around 1000 and 100 plus groups. We are dependent upon nvolunteers to deliver any activities and so, as with many other u3a groups, we are always struggling to secure enough volunteers needed to sustain our infrastructure – conveners, leafletters, publicists, people to help with and a whole range of other tasks that serve our membership, including those provided by our officers and trustees
ii) The tension between keeping local and expanding – some of our members have mobility issues and find it difficult to travel, others have expressed a clear view that they value activities that are local and would not want to travel far
iii) Meeting demand – we currently have waiting lists for many groups and are continually seeking additional groups and conveners for them
iv) We are a member-led organisation – any changes to our constitution, policies or name would need to be approved by a majority of members
v) The make-up of Haringey communities – unlike some boroughs, e.g. Islington, there are clear, identifiable, geographical communities within Haringey. They can be defined in terms of which side of a railway line they are on, tube lines, bus routes or history. Care needs to be taken in addressing local sensitivities, and assumptions about “one size fits all” challenges in seeking to draw communities together across these notional boundaries
vi) Is there an optimum size for a u3a – beyond which it becomes too big, out of touch and unable to sustain its infrastructure?
vii) What can u3a offer in addition to the provisions already provided by the London Borough of Haringey and how can this be best promoted? The Borough is committed to and has provided support to enable the provision of a range of local faith, ethnic, race and other groups

g) What could be done in the future?
Given the history of the u3a in Haringey, together with the issues outlined above, it is proposed that a name change is not undertaken at this time. Rather, consideration be given to enabling the development of other local u3a groups in Haringey by using the experience gained in setting up and sustaining CEDu3a

❑ This would involve contacting other communities through the Connected Communities programme, promoting the benefits of setting up a u3a group and providing support possibly in partnership with other u3as such as Islington and the London Region u3a team at the Third Age Trust

❑ The EDI team and the Publicity and Recruitment team will be working together to ensure CEDu3a is promoted across the borough. Other ideas are very welcome

3. Proposal

To begin discussion on the points raised in g)

Background documents
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy ›
EDI Event Planning Guidelines ›
Postcode Analysis
Ward/Haringey Profiles

* u3as in surrounding areas of CEDu3a: Barnet, Enfield, Palmers Green and Southgate, Hackney,
Hampstead Garden Suburb, Islington, North London, u3a in London, Waltham Forest