Starting a New Group

The impetus to create a new group can come in a variety of ways:

  • Member decides to start up a group;
  • Current group develops a waiting list and group leader notifies co-ordinator that numbers warrant the establishment of another group;
  • Member wants to attend a group that is not currently provided;
  • Committee identifies gaps in our Groups provision.

We have four Group Coordinators who are responsible for developing and supporting new groups. Ideas about group organisation can be found in the Group Leaders Guidance Booklet and the Third Age Trust More Time to Learn handbook. See other support from TAT below.

1. Member decides to start up a group:

This is the most straightforward process and the one on which the u3a movement depends. Members should contact the relevant Group Co-ordinator which depends on the initial letter of the proposed group:

A Member wishing to propose a new group should first discuss the idea with the appropriate Group Coordinator (as above). If the proposed group activity is appropriate for Eu3a, the Group Coordinator will assist the member to complete a Group Proposal Form and forward it to the Eu3a Committee for affirmation.

Note: Anyone planning a new group may find a list of Potential Meeting Venues around Edinburgh a useful reference.

To identify and generate interest, the Group Coordinator will arrange for an announcement to go into the monthly Bulletin and be shown on the loop at the beginning of the Open Meeting. The prospective group leader can address the meeting if wished - or ask the Chair to make an announcement - and be at the group table to answer questions for interested people.

Interest can also be canvassed by starting a group page for display at the Group Table at the Open meeting so that interested people can jot down their contact details.

2. Current Group is oversubscribed

Group Leaders are responsible for maintaining waiting lists of all approaches to them which they are not able to meet and for sharing the waiting lists with their group coordinator. The group coordinator will decide when the waiting list is unrealistically long (this will depend on the size and nature of the group) and will start the process of initiating a new group.

The process of initiating a new group can require some ingenuity for which all suggestions are gratefully received.

There are a number of possible alternatives:

a) Look for a member who has the skills to lead the subject – e.g. find a member who is a French speaker or former French teacher who could take on a new group and persuade them, The Bulletin and the website can be used to ask for a member to come forward.

b) Call all interested members together over coffee and discuss with them how they may run the group using materials produced elsewhere eg using the BBC French course as a basis

c) Look wider than the u3a for someone who is semi/retired who may have the necessary skills and may be able to join Eu3a and become a member to provide a group

3. Member wants to attend a group that is not currently provided

If there is a subject that a member would like to see offered but does not feel able to lead it, with Committee approval, support can be canvassed through an entry in the website under Group Leaders Wanted, opening a page at the Open Meeting, using the bulletin and, if there is interest, by the Group Coordinator facilitating a meeting of interested members to try to see whether a leader will emerge through discussion of the possible ways of doing it.

4. Committee identify gaps

The Committee regularly examines comments from members about groups that they would like to see and will initiate the process at 3 above.

Support from the Third Age Trust

All members thinking of developing a new group may consult the u3a subject advisers who provide support guidance and some publication on the content of groups. There may also be an issue of the TAT Sources magazine devoted to your topic. (Note you will have to register as a member to use the Third Age Trust website which is open to all members of Eu3a.)