Belfast

News

On this you will find Announcements from the Committee and other events/opportunities for participation which may of interest to you.

Committee News - from the March/April Newsletter
The meetings held during the past two months were a great success in terms of content and of member participation – the monthly meetings in January and February and the three special meetings - Convenors, New Members, and Bowel Cancer Awareness. We hope that this level of participation will continue and that you will encourage your friends to join us on Zoom. Our Breakout Rooms seem to be working well, so we will continue to use them at every meeting, giving you a chance to meet briefly in smaller groups.
Since Christmas, committee members met with the Chairs of five local u3as, and attended a NI u3a Regional meeting with Sam Mauger, CEO of the Third Age Trust. We also welcomed two newly co-opted Committee Members, Stan Blayney and Caroline Brown, to the team in January.
As Covid-19 restrictions continue, we are delighted to see many Convenors doing their best to keep activities going, even if the technology is daunting for all, and look forward to a future in which we will all be able to resume physical meetings, though this is not possible just now.

Membership Renewals for 2021/22
The Membership Subscription for Belfast u3a will remain at £15 for the year beginning 1st April
2021. Over the past months, the Committee has been working with Danske Bank to introduce the use of a Direct Debit, which is our preferred option for membership renewal as it will make life easier for you and for the Committee now and in the future.
You received a letter last week with full information on methods of payment for renewals. The Direct Debit Mandate, has to be signed and returned by post to Andrew Walmsley, Treasurer, as soon as possible. If you do not wish to pay by Direct Debit, a bank transfer or cheque are also acceptable. No cash payments are possible this year. We urge you to study the letter sent by Andrew and help us introduce this new way of paying for membership. If there are any queries, please direct them by email or phone to Andrew. See contact details above.

Notification of AGM 2021 on Thursday 29th April at 11.00 am
Due to Covid-19 regulations, we will not be in a position to hold a physical AGM in the coming months. In keeping with the advice from the Third Age Trust and the Charities Commission for NI, we will hold a slimmed down virtual AGM (on Zoom) in order to complete the required approval of accounts and changes in the Committee membership. Valerie Cobain, the u3a Trustee for NI, will bring us up-to-date with developments in the u3a movement throughout the UK and our own wonderful creative writer, Jim Hamilton, will read us his award- winning story The Road to Kilbracken. We hope that you will attend.
As we have five vacancies on the Committee, we hope to hear from anyone interested in joining us. We have sent out the invitation (by email) together with some information on the skills we need to support the large membership of our u3a. If interested, please contact Pauline or any member of the committee for a chat.
We will put all of the papers related to the AGM on the Belfast u3a Website, under a new AGM Tab to be added by our Web Administrator, Liz Hunter. Please check our Website for updates as papers will be added as soon as they are ready.

Special Meeting on Free Online Courses
Following requests from some members, we will run a short meeting on Zoom on Tuesday 9th March at 3.00 pm to introduce and explore the free online courses available from Universities around the world. As you know these are usually called MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses). These are open to any individual, but may also be used as learning material for groups. Pauline Prior, in her role as Research and Shared Learning Advisor for Belfast u3a, will lead this meeting. All are welcome.

Meetings on Zoom:
The meetings will open 10 minutes before the time and you will be admitted to the waiting room until the meeting is ready to start. The link will be sent out by email the day before the meeting.
• Monthly meeting: Thursday 25th March at 11.00 am. Speaker: Ann Donnelly. Topic: Exploring the NI Digital Film Archive.
• Monthly meeting Thursday 29th April at 11.00 am. AGM 2021 – the business will be followed by Valerie Cobain Trustee for NI with Brief Updates from the Third Age Trust; and Jim Hamilton reading his story The Road to Kilbracken.
• Monthly meeting: Thursday 27th May at 11.00 am. Speaker: Winston Irwin. Topic: The Life and Works of Percy French.
• Special Meeting: Tuesday 9th March at 3.00 pm. Speaker: Pauline Prior. Topic: Exploring MOOCs – Free Online Courses.

Tribute to Margaret Wills
We deeply regret the recent passing of Margaret Wills on 1st January, 2021. Margaret was a long-standing member of Belfast u3a and was elected to the Committee in April 2018, on which she served until December 2020. A member of several Interest Groups including the Literature and Classical Music Groups, Margaret was joint Convenor of The Last Word until December 2020. She also enjoyed participating at an international level, when along with others, led by William Devlin, she represented Belfast u3a in 2006 in Italy at the Grundtvig Programme, part of the European Commission’s Lifelong Learning programme. She shared her great love of Italy by inviting members of Belfast u3a for a number of years to join a group organised by her to spend some lovely relaxing early autumn days in Alassio. Margaret was always there for everyone and in her quiet way she gave much help and advice to our Committee and her many friends in Belfast u3a. She will be greatly missed and we extend our sincere sympathy to her husband, Colin, and her four daughters.

Exiled from Ireland – Harry Clarke’s Geneva Window – Marie T. Mullan. Congratulations to Marie on the publication of her book. The Geneva Window, renowned for its superb artistry and craftsmanship, celebrates the novels, poems and plays of the Irish Literary Revival. It was the work of Harry Clarke, Ireland’s most famous stained-glass artist. Commissioned by the Irish government as a gift to the International Labour Office in Geneva, the window was initially accepted by the Government on its completion in 1930, but rejected a few days later as ‘unrepresentative’ of the Irish people and even labelled ‘indecent’. This had serious emotional and financial consequences for Harry, a situation made worse when he died a few months later.

The window was returned to the Clarke studio, where it remained until 1988 when it was exhibited in London. It was then sold to the Wolfsonian Museum in Miami, Florida, and is now valued at millions of dollars. Exiled from Ireland tells the tragic story of this stunning window, examines the eight panels that comprise it and discusses the fifteen literary works by authors such as Yeats, Joyce and O’Casey that inspired each panel.

This is a beautiful 80-page book showing Clarke’s images in full colourful glory and we encourage you to buy it. It will soon be stocked by bookshops in Belfast, Dublin and Cork OR You can order the book NOW by clicking below:
Order Marie Mullan’s book here

TV Licensing update and Scam warning

  • By now all members over 75 have probably received a notification about how to get their valid TV Licence. More on the changes to Over 75s can be found on the website www.tvlicensing.co.uk/age or by phone, calling 08002321.
  • BEWARE Scammers may try to trick you into giving personal or bank details. Watch out for letters, emails, texts or phone calls that promise you money or refunds or demand payment from you.
  • Authentic emails only come from donotreply@tvlicensing.co.uk or donotreply@spp.tvlicensing.co.uk
  • And genuine communications will always use your last name and title and never just say Dear Customer.
  • For help call 0300 303965

Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS)
Although the NIFRS, due to Covid-19, has recently been giving telephone-only based assessments they are pleased to announce that they now can offer ‘face to face’ Home Fire Safety Checks to those people most at risk from fire. Persons who are aged 50 or older come into this category and any members who wish to avail themselves of this advice should contact the Fire Service: Telephone 028 9266 4221 or by email enquiries@nifrs.org

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Check in and chat service
Age NI, with the support of the Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland, is offering a ‘Check in and chat’ telephone service for everyone who is over 60 in Northern Ireland, who may feel isolated or lonely during this time. The service will provide a friendly voice to reassure people, answer basic queries and link them into local services and support during the coronavirus outbreak. Anyone over 60 in Northern Ireland can avail of this service free of charge. To receive a regular telephone call from us:
Call Age NI Advice on 0808 808 7575 Monday – Friday, 9am-5pm or email info@ageni.org.

Greysnet
A new website called Greysnet has just been launched with the support of the National Lottery Community Fund to help older people all over the country to stay connected and keep mind and body active during the current Coronavirus lockdown. It's called Greysnet and you can find it at www.greysnet.com.
Greysnet website

Third Age Trust Newsletter
This is a UK wide Newsletter sent by email from to all members who sign up for it. Scroll to the bottom of the home page of the Third Age Trust, and enter your name, email, and u3a Region (Northern Ireland).
Sign up for Third Age Trust Newsletter here: https://www.u3a.org.uk/newsletter

Third Age Trust Project:
Living History in Unprecedented Times
u3a members are being invited to help craft a shared learning project where we create a living history of this extraordinary time and members’ experiences during this coronavirus pandemic.
The project will look for personal thoughts, ideas and reflections on how this feels to you and what you are doing to deal with it. Members may want to keep an electronic diary or to find a little note-book in which you can scribble down thoughts as they come.
We are asking people to write up anything they think relevant to having to be at home and your thoughts and reactions. You may wish to write something each day for example, or once a week or simply when something of note happens. You may read an article, book or see a programme which triggers some ideas or thoughts. More details on the website, https://www.u3a.org.uk/

Policy regarding member of other u3as attending Interest groups of Belfast u3a: All participants in Belfast u3a interest groups should be paid-up members of Belfast u3a.

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GROUP NEWS

A Message from the Gardening Group Convenors.
It is well worth visiting your local park to see emerging bulbs as a sign of Spring. For example, in Ormeau
Park I spotted clumps of snowdrops struggling into flower and swathes of daffodils on the lower slope
which will look wonderful in a few weeks’ time.
Or maybe if you are restricted you may be lucky enough to have them in your own garden.
Something to look forward to - Channel 5 GREAT BRITISH GARDENS Season by Season, with Carol Klein of
BBC fame. Keep an eye out on Channel 5.

Attention all Music Lovers from Mark Hewitt, Jazz Group Convenor
I’ve found an excellent way to while away the hours of solitary confinement that the pandemic has meant
for me. “SPOTIFY FREE” is an on-line music streaming service which also gives access to podcasts. If you have Wi-Fi, you can access music of any Genre, Performer and Vintage, provided they have a significant recorded catalogue, using most on-line devices.

Craft Group Activities
The Craft Group has been unable to meet in person since lockdown began in March 2020 due to COVID restrictions. However, members of the Group have kept in touch through telephone calls and texting – providing friendship and encouragement. A few members were able (when restrictions relaxed) to meet up (socially distanced) for walks. Meantime, crafting has not come to a halt (although, at times, motivation may have waned a little). Special times, like Christmas, gave extra impetus to create and craft! We look forward very much to when, as a Group, we are able to meet together again. Jill Quinn
Some of the examples of craftwork that have members at home during lockdown are shown at the side of this page.

All Weather Walking Group
We have been very lucky! Our usual routine of weekly walks has continued with a few adjustments to comply with current restrictions. From the very first lockdown, when we were under very strict rules, we were offered a weekly fitness session via Zoom. Little did we think then that it would still be needed a year later! Yet here we are, still doing it every week as well as our permitted outdoor exercise.
More and more people have taken to walking, as one of the few permitted types of exercise. It is to be hoped that this new routine which they have embraced will prove to be of benefit to their cardiovascular health (which depends on having healthy veins and arteries - and there is simply no substitute for walking to improve this), and also to their mental and social well-being.
As restrictions dictated, we moved from 15 people walking together to 6 for a while, then since Boxing Day, it has been only 2 households allowed to meet outdoors. So, we are now like the animals in Noah’s Ark - we go two by two! By now, some people have formed partnerships for walking in twos and make their own plans. Others are invited to join one of the local walks nominated each week.
Brenda, Rosemary and Jennifer

Wish List for new Interest Groups
Do you have an idea for a new group you would like to see formed in Belfast u3a? If so, the committee would like to hear from you. Email the Groups Co-ordinator on groups@belfastu3a.org.

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APPEALS FOR HELP, OTHER EVENTS THAT MIGHT BE OF INTEREST ETC

Appeal for books
Quality Books Required by Self Help Africa Bookshop (previously known as War on Want) 24 Botanic Avenue Belfast BT7 1JQ Tel: 028 90 247773 in support of our African projects.
Please Keep us in mind if you are house clearing, downsizing or if you know of anyone who may have books to donate.

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SOCIAL/EDUCATIONAL

Red Cross Digital Sessions and Workshops
As face to face sessions are impossible at present, the Red Cross is offering digital sessions on First Aid, Kindness in the Community, and Tackling Loneliness Digitally. To access click here: Red Cross Digital Sessions
Tea, Learn & Connect These sessions enable you to connect with others. Open to all adults giving people an opportunity to connect with others and develop resilience and coping skills, they take place every Wednesday afternoon and can be accessed via Zoom. A session can be booked via Eventbrite and therefore no group booking is required. Click here to access: Red Cross Tea, Learn and Connect tickets

Digital Assist
We have just received an offer of help with digital problems, from the Communities Executive at Business in the Community. You will find more information on the organisation at www.bitcni.org.uk. Volunteers offer help with specific digital problems on a tablet, laptop or phone after receiving a text from you. If there are any problems with the service please email Pauline Prior, who will try to help, on slp@belfastu3a.org. To read more about it, click on the link to the Poster on the Links page of this website.
Digital Assist Text

Click on a picture below to see it full-size with more details.