Northumbria Region U3A


Networks have been part of the U3A structure for a long time but their number and significance has been increasing over the last few years. In some other regions Networks are so big and important that they have separate constitutions and their own web-sites. This hasn't happened in our region yet, so this website is a place where our Networks can promote themselves and exchange information.

If you know of a network not mentioned below then please let us know about it. To start with, send an email using this link website

The following is an extract from the "Findings and Recommendations of the Working Group into the future structure of the Third Age Trust" (read the full document here: Future Structure).

Networks see themselves as informal groupings that wish to continue growing organically, albeit with additional Trust funding. Although they are de facto part of the Trust's structure, there is limited support for becoming a formal part of its governance. However, there is a desire for stronger two-way communication links with the Trust.


Networks in Northumbria Region

Our Networks are not all the same. Some are made up of Chairs or Treasurers of U3As, others have a different representative from each U3A. Some focus on sharing information and problem solving; some on enabling members to join groups in other U3As; while at least one organises events involving all U3As in the network.

If you are interested in the work of the network near your U3A, the contact details are as follows:

Network Contact
Northumbria Region U3A Treasurers' Catherine Stevenson
NEW Northumbria Region U3A Business Secretaries Catherine Stevenson
South Durham Chairs Frank Forster
South Northumberland Chairmen Pam Turner
North Northumberland Network Hilary O\'Shea
Wessington, Washington, Houghton, Cestria, Washington Village Margaret Welsh*
Border Link Kate Swan

- * Note that the Wessington etc. Network is informal and does not have a chairman


The following information is shown in the order in which it was posted on this website, most recent at the top.

Northumbria Region U3A Treasurers'

Previously Mid Northumberland Treasurers, the network now invites any regional treasurer to attend.

Information about this network's meetings can be seen by clicking the links in the side-bar. The latest meeting was 7 March 2018.

In addition they have a newsletter which can be found by clicking here: Treasurer\'s Newsletter

The information in the Charity Commission document (link in the sidebar) might be of interest to any U3A that is individually registered.

For more information about this network contact Catherine Stevenson


North Northumberland Network

This network includes Alnwick, Berwick, Coquetdale and Wooler U3As.


South Durham Chair Networking Group (SDCNG)

The SDCNG meets about once a quarter in the Dun Cow Pub in Durham (nice coffee and mints).
Discussion is free ranging; topics have included good practice, concerns, points of interest, working together in a group activity etc.
Group members do not have to be chair of their U3As, although this is preferable.
If you would like to know more contact the Group Facilitator: Frank Forster


Cestria, Houghton, Washington, Washington Village and Wessington Network

The following is an extract of the presentation given by Gloria Gibson at the July Regional Meeting:


It was agreed that we would all work together to keep our U3As fresh and adaptable, to extend membership, to widen group choices, to share expertise and experiences, and to widen our social circle, thus establishing a new ‘sense of community'.

Each of the U3As in the Network agreed that our collaboration would be informal and member-focussed.

Suggested ways of doing this were:

  • Where a U3A has a group with space, members from the network may apply, through the group leader, to attend.
  • The group leader has the final say as to whether a new member can join the group.
  • Any cost will be shared between all members of the group.
  • Group leaders should record which U3A members are from and, where available, record their membership number; if no membership card is available, group leaders can check with the appropriate Membership Secretary.
  • Contact can be made directly through the websites of the U3As to either the relevant group leader, or to the Group Coordinator.

Other suggestions to foster collaboration:

  • Have meetings of Network Representatives, approximately four times per year.
  • Share speaker lists.
  • Invitations to group-led talks.
  • Invitations to events, for example: joint walk, coffee mornings, fill up coaches for trips, exhibitions, social events etcetera.
  • Add a Network page to our websites.

Network Events

February 2016: 'Meet the Neighbours'
A joint event to showcase our current U3A groups, encourage collaboration amongst local U3As, and enable members to have wider access to interest groups. A very successful day which formed the basis of our Network.

July 2016: Financial Planning Talk

September 2016: Rock Choir Taster Session

January 2017: Ceilidh

October 2017: Ceilidh

March 2018: "Interest Day"
In an effort to encourage members to engage in more research, the Network is planning an Interest Day Event with the central theme of the 1960s.


Networks Development Sub-Committee Report, April 2017

Meetings were set up and held with existing informal networks (not- constitutionalised) in our region:

  • a Wooler- Alnwick- Berwick group;
  • a Washington area group;
  • a Durham group;
  • Mid and SE Northumberland, Newcastle and Whitley Bay group.

All the groups were very active and found their network meetings vibrant and helpful. There was support for workshops linked to the management of U3As which could be network-focused.

If your Network is interested in sourcing training focused on a specific management issue e.g. running a good AGM or Committee; ensuring sustainability ; growing a u3a; amending a constitution; then please email me Elizabeth Porter


South Northumberland Network of U3As


Would it have helped if we had used a three-line whip or leather cat o' nine tails to get us started?

One of the best bits of any ThirdAgeTrust AGM is the regional get-together (with wine, did that help?). In Aug 2015 we thought it a good idea to spend more time back home on Networks.

No! we didn't need a whip of any sort, because more than half of the region's U3As sent a representative when that meeting eventually came about, in Nov 2015. We decided to divide ourselves into groups of neighbouring U3As and see how things developed. U3As organised themselves in various ways, and, hopefully, other reports will appear on this page about what they are doing.

The first meeting of U3As in south Northumberland was very graciously hosted in someone's front room, as informal talks between Chairmen.

Tentative, polite information exchange began with us quoting stats about our U3As and one of us collated them into a basic information chart. Then one Chairman asked if we would advise about a problem in their U3A which was proving awkward to resolve. Many useful suggestions and comments arose and we began to think we ought to keep these discussions confidential!
We composed a set of proposed terms of reference .

very cosy pub Each time we met, more trust seemed to be established between us and when the householder had to drop out, because their chairmanship term ended, we decided to meet in a fairly central pub. Fortunately (!) it happened to be closed on the day we had proposed and we ended up in a most hospitable, cosy, alcove of a nearby pub, where we are still meeting. The discussions continued, some of which are included here in the form of some questions about how U3As run

So although things began slightly defensively, with each of us appearing to think it necessary to say what we thought our U3A did well, we quickly arrived at the position of asking how on earth did any of us cope with everything our U3A expected us to do. The meetings became ones that I looked forward to immensely, because they had developed into relaxed, amusing, sometimes heart-rending, but mainly comforting times and have been a great source of support during my chairmanship.

So yes – Networking - a fantastic idea, thank you to The Third Age Trust for suggesting it, thanks to Elizabeth (current) and Gwen, (previous) regional trustees for initiating and encouraging it, thanks to all the people who have involved themselves and hello to all the chairmen I have met and whose company I have enjoyed.

Mo Brown, May 2017