Our Policies

U3A Head Office have developed a replacement Constitution, which Mid Northumberland will defer until 2021, when it will be discussed by the committee in hopefully a face to face meeting to decide whether to adopt said Constitution. The decision was taken at the committee meeting 11th September 2020.

POLICIES AGREED BY THE U3A COMMITTEE (1 to 9 - 2013-July 2016 ) and (10 to 12 - 2018 July)

Availability and Changes to These Policies
These policies may change from time to time. If we make any material changes we will make members aware of this via the newsletter and the monthly members' meetings.

Policy 1. How are new and existing groups financed?
(Reference: Committee Meeting minutes from March 2013 and July 2014)
Our policy is that groups should be self financing, so that those who belong are funding their own learning.

Many groups meet in member’s homes, and a small collection should be held to recompense the host for any hospitality provided.

If an activity group meets in a hired hall, engages a speaker from outside the U3A, or arranges a visit, each member attending should contribute towards the cost. The group co-ordinator is responsible for making sure that enough funds are collected, and for forwarding these to the treasurer.

A newly-convened activity group can be supported from main U3A funds with hall hire costs “for a limited time” while its founder membership establishes and a suitable meeting place is decided. Any problems should be referred to the Groups Co-ordinator, or a Committee member.

Policy 2. Promoting other organisations and events through our means of communication – general meetings, newsletter and website.
(Reference: – Committee Meeting minutes from May 2013 and September 2013)
We decided that our newsletter should not include promotional material that does not relate to the U3A (national, regional and local). This has subsequently been applied to general meetings and the website as well. Our reasons are that if we addressed requests to publicise or promote, we could be inundated. In addition, our members all have access to other publicity channels, for example, the local press. We also have to be mindful that as affiliated to a larger charitable trust, we would have to make decisions each time as to our implied support of that which we are asked to promote.

Policy 3. Booking events, paying speakers and collecting money.
(Reference: Committee Minutes from November 2013)amended April 2018, reviewed June 2019.
Where practical and the amounts are material, all money collected or paid by activity groups should be paid or deposited through the main Mid-Northumberland U3A bank account. This includes paying speakers, making deposits and for paying for outside events, booking venues and so on. Groups need to liaise with the treasurer to achieve this, with appropriate forward planning. Cheques from Mid-Northumberland U3A bank account require two signatories so time may be required to contact two of the four signatories.

Policy 4. Support for and from the Northumbria Region U3A.
(Reference: Committee Minutes from November 2013 and January 2014)(Reviewed and amended at committee 5th April 2019,)
We decided that we would forward the requested 2 names to our Regional U3A, as Regional Contacts, and whenever possible, there would be representation from Mid-Northumberland U3A at some quarterly regional meetings.

Policy 5. Attendance at the quarterly Regional Meetings.
(Reference: Committee Minutes from February 2016)(Reviewed and amended at committee meeting 5th April 2019)
We agreed that U3A members attending a Regional meeting can claim back the costs of attendance and lunch, as charged and mileage at the current HMRC rate. Members would be expected to share transport where possible.

Policy 6. Induction for newly elected Committee Members.
(Reference: Committee Minutes from February 2016)(Reviewed and amended at committee meeting 5th April 2019)
We agreed that there should be a welcome and induction meeting for all new committee members based on the induction information in the Committee Reference File issued by the U3A in February 2016. (This file is to be kept by the Secretary)

Induction should also be provided for newly elected Chairpersons. Sources of help for this could be handover meetings with the resigning Chair, membership of the Northumberland Chairs’ Network, and the Committee reference file.

Policy 7. Hard copy newsletters posted direct to members.
(Reference: Committee Minutes from February 2016)(Reviewed and amended at committee meeting 5th April 2019)
We agreed that the 4 members receiving posted, hard-copy shortened newsletters consisting of the headlines, calendar and monthly meeting details, would continue to do so free of charge. New members will be advised that our newsletter is electronic. A hard copy of the full newsletter will be placed in the reading room each month for all members to access.

Policy 8 - is deleted as no longer applicable
(Reference: Committee Meeting on Friday, February 12th 2016)(reviewed and amended at committee meeting 5th April 2019)

Policy 9 – Welcoming associate members, guests and visitors
(Reference: Committee Meeting on July 16th 2016)(Reviewed and amended committee meeting August 8th 2019)Further review 6th March 2020

Policy 9 - Attendance by non-U3A-members of U3A events (revised March 2020)

Full members are covered by our insurance policies and are therefore permitted to attend any U3A event. Associate members are full members of another U3A whose subscription to the Third Age Trust has been paid by that U3A and not by our U3A.
This entitles them to a reduced associate membership fee to join Mid Northumberland U3A, but in all other respects enables them, like full members, to join any group or meeting. Associate members pay the same meeting or group costs as full members.

The U3A Public Liability Insurance only covers full U3A members. The attendance at any event of non-members, such as any guests, spouses or friends, will invalidate that cover for all attendees at that event so non-members, such as guests, spouses or friends, are not permitted to attend any U3A event.

Members of other U3As, who may be a friend visiting one of our U3A members, are covered by Third Age Trust insurance through their own U3A and are so permitted to attend one event when accompanied by their friend. Such members of other U3As should become an associate member if they wish to attend more than one event. They also will be asked to pay their share of any costs.

Members wishing to join our U3A may attend ONE event prior to joining our U3A and again will be asked to pay their share of any costs.

Where there are limits on spaces available then full and associate members have priority at attending any event over members of other U3As and members wishing to join.

Policy 10. Equal Opportunities

Statement of Intent
We fully accept and welcome that society consists of many diverse groups and individuals and this diversity is an asset to the community. We also recognise that certain groups and individuals are discriminated against and we are opposed to this.

We recognise that we have a moral and legal responsibility to promote equal opportunities and we will pursue equality in all our activities.

Code of Conduct
Members will be treated with dignity and respect regardless of race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, disability, religion or age.

At all times people’s feelings will be valued and respected. Language or humour that people find offensive will not be used, e.g. sexist or racists jokes or terminology that is deemed derogatory.

No one will be harassed, abused, excluded or intimidated on the grounds of their race, sex, age, nationality, disability, religion or sexual orientation.

Foul, insulting, abusive or racist remarks will not be tolerated from anyone associated with our organisation and behaviour of this type may lead to expulsion from the U3A. Incidents of harassment will be taken seriously. If the matter cannot be resolved by way of an acceptable apology and an undertaking that the offence will not be repeated, the following action will be taken:

1. The person in question will be requested to attend a meeting of the committee to explain their actions.
2. Action may be taken as appropriate. If deemed necessary, their membership of the U3A may be withdrawn at the end of a disciplinary procedure, as set out in our constitution.

Policies Supervisor
A policies supervisor will be appointed from the committee and any incidents should be reported either via the group coordinator or alternatively directly to the appointed committee member. If an incident is reported to the group coordinator, she/he is responsible for referring it to the committee.

Policy 11. Privacy
Mid Northumberland U3A (hereafter ‘the U3A’) treats your privacy rights seriously. This privacy policy sets out how we will deal with your ‘personal information’, that is, information that could identify, or is related to the identity of, an individual.

What personal information do we collect?
When you express an interest in becoming a member of the U3A you will be asked to provide certain information. This includes:
• Name.
• Home address.
• Email address.
• Telephone number.
• Subscription preferences.

How do we collect this personal information?
All the information collected is obtained directly from you. This is usually at the point of your initial registration. The information will be collected via membership forms or online contact forms. At the point that you provide your personal information for membership purposes, we will also request that you provide consent for us to store and use your data. Your consent is required to ensure our compliance with data protection legislation.

How do we use your personal information?
We use your personal information:
• To provide our U3A activities and services to you.
• For administration, planning and management of our U3A.
• To communicate with you about your group activities.
• To monitor, develop and improve the provision of our U3A activities.
We will send you messages by email, other digital methods, telephone and post to advise you of U3A activities.

Who do we share your personal information with?
We may disclose information about you, including your personal information:
• Internally - to committee members and group convenors – as required to facilitate your participation in our U3A activities.
• Externally – where we use an external membership management system and with your consent for products or services such as direct mailing for the Trust magazines (Third Age Matters and Sources). Where such systems are used, the committee has scrutinised the Terms and Conditions of each supplier and judged that their digital and physical systems and procedures are secure.
• If we have a statutory duty to disclose it for other legal and regulatory reasons.
Where we need to share your information outside of the U3A we will seek your permission and inform you as to who the information will be shared with and for what purpose.

How long do we keep your personal information?
We will retain your personal information during the period of your membership of the U3A and delete it when you leave.

The exceptions to this are instances where there may be legal or insurance circumstances that require information to be held for longer whilst this is investigated or resolved. Where this is the case then the member/s will be informed as to how long the information will be held for and when it is deleted.

How your information can be updated or corrected
The U3A does not require annual membership renewal forms so, to ensure the information we hold is accurate and up to date, members need to inform the U3A as to any changes to their personal information. You can do this by contacting the membership secretary. You can send a message via the contact page on the website.

Should you wish to view the information that the U3A holds on you, you can make this request by contacting the membership secretary – as detailed above. There may be certain circumstances where we are not able to comply with this request. This would include where the information may contain references to another individual or for legal, investigative or security reasons. Otherwise we will usually respond within 14 days of the request being made.

How do we store your personal information?
We have in place a range of security safeguards to protect your personal information against loss or theft, as well as unauthorised access, disclosure, copying, use, or modification. Security measures include technological measures such as Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption, which creates a secure connection with your browser when you register and login into our online services.

Your membership information is held on a spreadsheet and downloads are provided to committee members and group coordinators as appropriate.

Policy 12. Safeguarding
Safeguarding means protecting people’s health, wellbeing and human rights, and enabling them to live free from harm abuse and neglect. It’s fundamental to high-quality health and social care. (Care Quality Commission 2014)
The Care Act 2014 defines safeguarding an adult as a person who:
• Has care and support needs
• Is experiencing, or is at risk of abuse or neglect and
• Is unable to protect themselves because of their care and support needs

Member’s responsibilities
A group coordinator or a group member needs to act if they believe a person in their group may be the subject of abuse or is at risk. This may be abuse from another member or be the result of the member’s home life or involving activities quite separate from the U3A.

You have a duty to report this to the appropriate authority. If you believe the person is in danger, then you should report the incident to the police. Otherwise there are organisations that may give advice and/or support, e.g. Age UK or Northumberland County Council Safeguarding Officer.

If you are uncertain what to do, you should discuss with the policies supervisor, appointed from our U3A committee to advise and help you.

Policies Supervisor
A policies supervisor will be appointed from the committee and any incidents should be reported either via the group coordinator or alternatively directly to the appointed committee member. If an incident is reported to the group coordinator, she/he is responsible for referring it to the committee.

13. Theatre Group Policy and Procedures

The overriding aim of the following policy and procedures in respect of the finances of the theatre group is to ensure that the Theatre Group is never in deficit and that, as a result, the U3A is never out of pocket. These were agreed at the November 2018 Committee meeting:

a) Theatre Group members must be members of the Mid Northumberland U3A
b) Members within the group wishing to go to a Theatre Group production
pay the U3A the cost of their ticket
c) In arriving at the cost of the ticket then any free tickets or
discounts should be shared across participating members attending
that show
d) The co-ordinator is authorised by the U3A to use a personal credit
card to purchase tickets and can reclaim from the U3A, with supporting
receipts/invoices, the lower of the cost of the tickets or the monies
collected from members. In this way the U3A is never out of pocket as
it uses the money collected from members to pay the co-ordinator. The
U3A accepts that, from the point in time that the co-ordinator makes
makes the purchase and thereby incurs a personal credit card liability,
then the U3A will reimburse the co-ordinator with the lower of the cost
of the tickets or monies collected,then the committee has decided
three courses of action depending on the stage at which bankruptcy
i if the bankruptcy occurs before the co-ordinator has purchased the
tickets then the U3A will refund all the money collected in
respect of that theatre to the members affected,
ii if the bankruptcy occurs after the co-ordinator has purchased
the tickets but before the co-ordinate has made a claim then
the U3A will pay the co-ordinator the lower of the cost of the
tickets or monies collected, supported by receipts/invoices.
In the unlikely event that the co-ordinator is able to recover
any of the credit card debt then the co-ordinator agrees to pay
such monies to the U3A who, in turn, will make proportionate
payments to the participating members.
iii if the bankruptcy occurs after the co-ordinator has been paid
for the tickets then the U3A has no liability to either members
or the co-ordinator.

Policy 14. Format and frequency of General meetings
Agreed at committee meeting held on February 8th 2019.

It was decided to change the format and frequency of general meetings to increase attendance (and therefore effectiveness of communication)and opportunities to socialise, a wish expressed by the membership.

It was agreed to trial the following:

A monthly general meeting will be held. Exceptions will remain as before-no meeting in August and the AGM in October.

Meetings will consist of a speaker or activity led by members, followed by refreshments.

Once a quarter an informal business meeting will be included, consisting of essential reports and news from committee meetings.

Policy 15. Authorisation of Expenditure
(Agreed by the committee on June 14th 2019 and adopted on October 9th 2019)

Unless specifically authorised by then committee, no members of the U3A are authorised to enter into continuing, that is other than "one-off", arrangements for the supply of goods and services. Any such continuing arrangements with the supplier need to be agreed by the Committee. However, members of the U3A are entitled to claim for reasonable one-off-out of pocket expenses incurred on U3A business and supported by receipts or invoices, Such claims should not exceed £10 without prior authorisation from the Treasurer, contact details available on our website.

Turning to our groups, a separate authorisation policy 13, has been agreed by the Committee for the Theatre group. For all other groups, the Group co-ordinators are authorised by the committee to incur one-off items of expenditure on behalf of their group of up to £50, subject to their group having sufficient funds to cover the expenditure. This practice is consistent with our policy of groups being self financing. For amounts in excess of £50 then this should be discussed with the Treasurer before incurring the expenditure.

Members of the Committee, as Trustees, are collectively authorised to incur any expenditure to meet the charitable purposes of the U3A, as defined in our constitution, such authority arising after due consideration and agreement by the committee.

Occasionally emergencies may arise and small amounts of expenditure be required urgently to remedy the situation. The Committee delegates authority to each Committee member to incur £20 per emergency event without committee approval but with prior email or telephone approval from the Treasurer, or failing that, from the Chair. If contact cannot be made with either, then authorisation for expenditure is granted in such circumstances but a follow up email must subsequently be sent to the Treasurer and Chair outlining the emergency situation and the urgency of it, the steps taken to seek approval and the outcome.

Policy 16. Petty cash balances
(Agreed by the committee on June 14th 2019,and adopted on October 9th 2019)

Though our U3A allows groups to ring fence their cash collections, ultimately that money belongs to the U3A. Petty cash should be periodically handed over to the Treasurer and no group should hold petty cash Balances in excess of £20. Once that limit is reached then arrangements should be made to hand over to the Treasurer all but the small amount to meet immediate needs. Such handed over balances would be ring fenced for that groups use together with balances already banked. Where balances, be they patty cash or bankings, are building up regularly with no plans to spend them, then consideration should be given to waiving attendance charges for a short period of time.

The U3A actively encourages members to offer to host events in their homes where the number are such that member attending can be comfortably accommodated and that the event is open to all the members of the group. Indeed the U3A holds insurance policies which provide cover for public liability and damage to that property for such events though it should be noted that injury or damage arising from a defect in the property would not be covered by our policy as that should be covered by the host's house insurance. Money may be collected to cover the hosts hospitality costs for tea, coffee and biscuits and any surpluses held as petty cash should be periodically handed over to the Treasurer. Again, such petty cash balances should not exceed £20. Some groups prefer to operate away from both member's houses and Longhirst village hall. It is for each group to decide and agree on the venue most suited for its needs, but again, petty cash should be periodically be handed over to the Treasurer and any balances held should not exceed £20.