Our current Chairman is Doreen Raine from Dorking U3A. Doreen is also Chair of Third Age Trust Diversity and Inclusion and she offers the following advice on running your u3a in these difficult self-isolating times. As she says, "You Can Do It!". With apologies to u3as already doing so, in order to encourage Group Leaders to venture into the land of virtual meetings, a u3a might need:
- Someone on the committee with special responsibility for on-line learning.
- A support team of members who can advise on virtual meetings such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom, who can manage simple technological speak
- And who are potentially prepared to set up meetings for certain groups if there is no-one in the group to do it.
- Simple guidelines for group members - Click on the link in the e-mail inviting them to participate in the meeting and little more.
This should encourage those who have access to the internet for e-mails but who are very uncertain about using their laptop/ipad/tablet for any other purpose. There are plenty of intelligent people who use their equipment in a very limited way and who have a sort of word blindness when confronted with instructions, particularly on-screen. If there are fees to be paid the u3a committee might consider paying for/subsidising this. It would also be useful to have some meeting guidelines with suggestions for handling material, such as:-
- Position yourself with light falling on your face, and not with your back to a window.
- Agree a meeting protocol - a chaired meeting, one speaker at a time, agreed signals for next contributor etc.
- Agree the subject and the material to be used - chapter to be read or material to be viewed on-line, and then
- Potentially agree to prepare this before the session, perhaps with one person providing a summary at the beginning of the session.
- Agree the nature of the discussion - specific questions or free discussion.
- Agree the timing and subject for the next session.
Much of this will be very obvious for some people, but some things will not be, at least not for everyone. Moreover, more discipline is needed for meetings of this sort, more respect for allowing others to have their say. Some may have reservations but the thing that convinced me was: if you can use e-mail, you can do this. Apart from the meeting organiser you do not need to know/do more than this. Other discoveries can be made later.
The South East Forum exists: [Note - Its future role is under discussion in the region with the involvement of our trustee, Susie Berry]
- To enable effective co-operation between the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Networks, so that activities such as the University of Chichester Summer School, the Spring Conference in the Meridian Hall, East Grinstead, seminars on topics of relevance to u3as and workshops for group leaders can be organised for members.
- To enhance communication with the National Executive Committee of the Third Age Trust through the elected trustee for the region.
- To provide a forum for debate on Third Age Education and the many advantages that u3as bring to their members.
Please go to the Documents page to view constitution, membership, annual reports, conference proceedings and international conference papers.
Click on a picture below to see it full-size with more details.