Minehead & District

Welcome to Minehead & District U3A

New website under development! See News and Reports page (a link from this page).

Special August Newsletter
An additional newsletter will be published mid-August this year. Please let Alison or Margaret have your copy for this special edition by 7th August.

August 13th Annual General Meeting See Events page

July 2020 Message from the Chairman
The U3A National Office has now created a ‘Beyond lockdown working group’ to consider ways in which the organisation can continue and develop. This is something to which we, as a U3A, have also been turning our attention. As you will be aware, the committee and some of our groups are using technology to hold meetings, which has enabled us to become familiar with Zoom, the videoconferencing app. Our IT Champions have also been offering members as much support and help with technology as they can. The committee has agreed, exceptionally, to produce a newsletter in August, because we believe it is important for us all to keep in touch and to share news about the ways in which our U3A is working to continue its activities.

A ‘university’ is as much about meeting, socialising with and enjoying the company of like-minded people as about the teaching and learning. Although national institutions are offering online tuition, they are coming to realise that students expect more from the university experience than tutorials. The challenge for U3As is similar. I believe we have four important questions to consider, and I would very much welcome thoughts and ideas on these from you all.
• How can we best welcome and support new members, and encourage them to
play an active part in our organisation?
• How can we review and develop the U3A offer, especially the range of our interest groups?
• How do we support and encourage ourinterest groups to develop innovative yet inclusive ways of holding meetings and communicating?
• Are there creative ways of sharing access to IT that will help to make our U3A as inclusive as possible?

On that last point, now that we are allowed to visit people indoors, you might consider inviting a member without access to Zoom to share coffee mornings and online group meetings in a ‘safe bubble’. Naturally, this
suggestion comes with the proviso that whether or not you do so depends on your own judgment and assessment of the risk.

I am delighted that about 300 of you have now renewed your U3A membership and I hope more will do so by the end of July. Nevertheless, I recognise that, unless we can help interest groups to remain accessible and relevant in the coming months, our membership will decline. Our core objective is to learn together, so do please send me your views on how best we may continue doing this, so that together we can take up the challenge of creating a vibrant and active U3A for September 2020 and beyond.
John Batt, 10 July 2020

We continue to feel the impact of the current pandemic situation and are trying to respond to it by continuing U3A activity by whatever means we can. Experience shows that the 'Zoom' video conferencing software works well. We are organising a series of online talks (see Events page). Some interest groups are continuing by using Zoom. Any other group interested will be supported through the process of setting up 'virtual' meetings (see IT Champions below).

We welcome suggestions for new Groups which are 'virtual'. Proposals are coming forward already for a Virtual Book Group and one focused on art appreciation. Ask for details (use the Contact page).

IT Champions
To help you with any IT related issues, there is a small number of people who can assist. The IT Champions are individuals with IT experience, who are willing to act as your first point of contact for ANY IT-related problem or question − for ANY U3A member. You can email your question to ITChampionsMinehead@gmail.com [or use the Contacts page] and a champion will be assigned to your case.

Virtual meetings
The initial focus for the Champions has been on setting members up on Zoom (videoconferencing). Zoom can be very useful in this respect, as we can share screens − allowing the champion to look at your screen and hopefully analyse a problem, and enabling the champion to share their screen to give a small tutorial on how to use a specific feature that may be useful. The Champions will also be writing simple guides to the main tools available. Guides to how to set up Zoom on your device are available.

See the link on the GROUPS page for details of people willing to help with getting going with some of the new ways of working and 'meeting'! Do you have a skill that you could volunteer to 'Champion'?

All members should think about joining the Facebook Group for Minehead & District U3A. There are now over 50 members using this as a way to communicate and have fun. If you have a dislike of using 'social media' prepare to put it to one side for the duration! It has a vital role to play in keeping U3A members connected. On Facebook, search for 'Minehead & District U3A' and message the admin person to add you to the group - it is a closed group to guard against unwanted content. The National Office of U3A's Facebook group Called U3A: Keeping in touch is also excellent for inter-U3A conversations and information.

Lockdown nature amble diary
One of our members, Catherine Knight, has been writing nature notes on her daily exercise walk since 'lockdown' began - She has now reached week 18! Please visit the Nature Amblers Group page for the latest instalment.

Keep up with what is going on - join the Minehead and District Facebook Group.

Help to keep active at home
It's a particularly difficult time for those of us who are self-isolating and spending a lot of time at home, with long-term health conditions or reduced mobility. I understand, as I fit into both those categories, how difficult it is to stay active at home both physically and mentally.

As our U3A's welfare officer I have been working with Somerset Activity & Sports Partnership (SASP) to look at these and other issues members have to face. SASP is now able to provide some support and send out activity packs, which include a copy of the Public Health England (PHE) booklet Active at Home. This contains guidance, and includes exercises for all
abilities, some practical advice, and useful contacts.I have been sent the booklet and a planner electronically, and I am happy to send these on to you if you email me at bzarajic@icloud.com. If you prefer, you can go to the website www.SASP.co.uk and order your pack directly. However,
for those who have no internet, you can order one by telephoning SASP on 01823 653990. Leave a message including your name and address and that you require an Active at Home pack.
Pam Young, Welfare

New to U3A? Read on...

New to the U3A? What is it?
Joining U3A leads to 'a mixture of learning and leisure in the company of like-minded people'! U3A is a UK-wide (and, indeed, international) movement which brings together people in their third age to develop their interests and continue their learning in a friendly and informal environment. You may be wondering what we mean by 'third age'! It's that time after you've finished working full-time and/or raising your family and have time to pursue your own interests, or try something new.
The U3A is a national movement, with over 1000 groups operating autonomously in the UK. There is lots of information available from the National Office - click on the 'U3A' link on the top bar.

Latest developments

There is now a comprehensive Calendar of U3A activities. Click on 'Calendar' on the top row on this page.

We are now a group on Facebook - search for 'Minehead and District U3A'! and message the admin person to add you to the group - it is a closed group to guard against unwanted content, so for once, you will need to quote your membership number...

U3A is a community of members who draw upon their knowledge and experience to teach and learn from each other. There are no qualifications to join or exams to pass – U3A is just for pleasure. Learning is its own reward. And we have fun – often lots of fun!

If you're interested in joining Minehead & District U3A, just come along to a coffee morning (see Events page). You can find out more about membership by clicking here Membership, or use the Contact page to ask Hilary, the Membership Secretary, a question.

Can you help?

We are in need of additional assistance at our Coffee Mornings, and indeed, as members of the Committee. Please do think about what you can do to assist the U3A.

Minehead & District U3A members come from Minehead, Porlock, Watchet, Williton and all the outlying villages along the coast and on Exmoor.

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Apart from the monthly coffee mornings on the third Thursday of the month there are lots of other things you can join in with.There are details of our future activities on the Events page, with a list of our interest groups and meeting information on the Groups page. You can read about the Shared Learning Projects that our U3A members have been involved with. Minehead & District U3A now has an enviable track record in completing successful projects – see the link, top right or below, for more information. Perhaps you'd like to help in our latest shared learning project, organised in conjunction with the Exmoor National Park Authority. National U3A Summer Schools take place every year in the summer. Find out more at the U3A page or see your copy of Third Age Matters the magazine of the national U3A.

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West Somerset Radio – 104.4FM
Every second Tuesday of the month tune in to listen to live interviews with U3A members! The U3A slot is normally around 12.20 during Bryan Leaker's show.

If you’d like to talk live on air about your interest group and the kind of things your group members get up to, just contact John Batt.

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