Shropshire Network

Useful U3A info

There is an often confusing array of information on the U3A and it can be difficult to find specific items of interest. Here, we aim to provide such information in a readily-accessible form, anything from what is the U3A movement to how do we find out contact details for Subject Advisors. This works best if you let us know what you would like to see displayed, so please contact the Webmaster with your ideas on content.

Beacon

For Beacon users, and those who want to know the current situation on its status within the U3A, please have a look at the Beacon update and the latest Beacon Newsletter. A recent survey sent to all U3As enquiring about their top level requirements in managing their U3A identified the following tasks as being the most demanding:-
- collection of receipts and payments (including cashless payments)
- coordination of groups
- communication with members
- communication with the Third Age Trust
- website and social media interfaces
- preparation for their AGM or other meetings
- regulatory and legal compliance
- organisation of trips
- document management
- speaker lists
According to the Chief Executive Sam Mauger: "We hope to have the outline specification by the summer and once we have a specification, the shape of Beacon will enable us to understand the type of supplier(s) that we should investigate."

The Network Link

Following the Consultation Process with all U3As on the Future Structure of the Third Age trust in 2016-2017, and the acknowledged importance of informal Networks, it was agreed that a national 'Network Link' be created, with meetings once or twice a year. Its aim is to improve the flow of information between the Trust and member U3As via the many Networks that have become established throughout the UK. For further information on what the Network Link is currently doing, have a look at the notes from the latest Network Link meeting in October. You may also be interested in the Chairman\'s notes of the meeting.

Extracts from recent U3A Newsletters
If you wish to sign up to receive the newsletter every month in your inbox, go to https://www.u3a.org.uk/newsletter

Rebranding of U3A logo

Ian McCannah, chairman of the Third Age Trust, has reported on the proposed changes to the U3A logo. The Raising the Profile Working Group - one of three making recommendations - has proposed that, for publicity purposes, our logo will not include the wording "University of the Third Age", unless it has dealings with Universities, Government agencies, research bodies, etc. The U3A strapline will be Learn, laugh, live. This new way of publicising the U3A movement aims to reinforce the broad and open nature of the U3A and is a similar branding approach to that associated with bodies such as BBC, BMW, CNN. Over the coming months, members will notice the re-branding of all U3A material to reflect this new image.

Loneliness - Government asks for our help

This year the government is going to deliver its National Loneliness Campaign borne out of recommendations from the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness - a cross-party group Jo set up herself before she was killed. The campaign aims to break down the barriers that surround loneliness, which has been proven to cause ill health, both physical and mental. The team working on the campaign has come to the U3A to ask for your help if you have experienced loneliness and have a story to share. Anyone who is willing to stand up and say, "Yes I am/was lonely. This is how it feels”. These could also be used as an offer to media outlets. If you would like to get involved then please write a few lines on your experience and send to elizabeth.drury@u3a.org.uk.

The Unforgotten Forces Project

The Unforgotten Forces project is a consortium of 16 organisations; of which nine are Armed Forces charities, six are charities whose client groups include older people, and one is an academic partner. The mix of partners gives Unforgotten Forces unique strengths for improving the health, well-being and quality of life for older veterans of 65 years of age and over. For further information about the services available for older veterans via the Unforgotten Forces project and how to make referrals for support and advice to any of the partner organisations please visit http://www.poppyscotland.org.uk/get-help/unforgotten-forces/.

Lifestyle Check

There is much demand for memory courses, especially with dementia now being a major cause of death. Participants differ in needs, but whenever possible memory matters should be picked up early, before deterioration. The brain does not necessarily decline with age. Regular gentle mind exercise is a great boost to memory powers. There are 2 types of Memory Maintenance courses:

(a) A session or sessions, covering a spectrum of needs, assuming takers are not necessarily yet worried about memory loss (but being gentle with those who are), adapts the advice of published literature on memory to fit a wide range of Third Age needs. Barnsley U3A runs a course of this kind, similar to the one at Heswall. We are not medics (nor are most authors of memory literature) but take care to conform with the best current cognitive advice. Retired GPs have attended and commended.

(b) A strictly ‘defensive’ course, basically medical, which glances at wider health issues stressing the need to avoid anxiety, was devised at Aughton & Ormskirk U3A, by a clinical psychologist, the late Dr. Sylvia Dillon. This provides workbooks and has been taken up by many U3As. Sylvia’s work is highly distinctive: some material is still available. It is labour intensive for any enthusiastic local tutor and some (including Aughton & Ormskirk and also Heswall) no longer run it. Two U3As which have used this and also experienced the work of the current Heswall team, regarded the two ‘philosophies’ as complementary.

Contact Arthur Maltby via the Subject Advisors webpage (see link on sidebar).

Tai Chi

West Wolds U3A’s membership Secretary & Treasurer, Shelley Franklin, ran a fifteen week course for West Wolds members, giving them a taste of the benefits to be enjoyed from regular Tai Chi exercises. Tai Chi is sometimes referred to as ‘moving meditation', combining as it does deep breathing with slow, flowing movements, although it had originally been developed as a form of martial art. Brian Ward from West Wolds said, “Shelley had learned from her Chinese instructors who came in to join in our class on the last day. The practical benefits to be derived from Tai Chi classes have been proven to include better balance, which helps prevent falls, along with reduced stress, better posture and increased leg muscle strength”.

Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA)

Regional Trustee for Yorkshire and the Humber Sue Stokes has filmed a promotional video of U3A for the PHA. Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a serious medical condition not be confused with hypertension (high blood pressure) with the main symptom being breathlessness. Find out more on their website www.phauk.org/.

In My Own Write (IMOW)

In My Own Write, a feature showcasing the published work of U3A members and previously hosted in Third Age Matters, has now moved to its own Facebook Page. This is an exciting innovation which will allow the Trust to host the many U3A authors from across the movement. Authors can now post directly to the site and posts will be approved for publication by the U3A Volunteer Editor who is managing the site. See https://www.facebook.com/U3AInMyOwnWrite/

U3A Networking

Angie Grain of Yorkshire and Humberside region has the task of establishing and supporting networks in that region. She is working on the role of subject based networks and wondered if anyone else is doing something similar. Please contact her at angiegrain@aol.com You may be able to help each other.

Ageing Well Without Children (AWWC)

The non-for-profit organisation, Ageing Without Children wanted to let U3A members know that they are changing their name to Ageing Well Without Children to reflect a more positive message around what they do. Founder Kirsty Woodard said, “Our main aim is to raise awareness and understanding of the issues and we are launching a guide for organisations on setting up groups for people ageing without children”. It has a new logo and website https://awwoc.org/.

Can we predict Parkinson’s Disease?

Researchers from Queen Mary University of London and University College London are reaching out to U3A to support the launch of the next phase of a ground-breaking study for Parkinson’s disease. PREDICT-PD uses a series of online tests to identify ways to predict Parkinson's disease and understand who might be at highest risk. The researchers are looking for U3A members aged 60-80 years who do not have Parkinson’s. Participants just need to register on the website and read the information sheet before completing the online tests at www.predictpd.com.

Learning Resources

Nina Duttaroy is U3A’s new Educational Resources Officer. She is a highly experienced Learning and Development specialist, and has worked for a wide range of organisations including Age UK and the BBC. She will be in post for the next six months, and her role will be to develop the resources available for interest groups. She will also administer the DVD library service and is based at the National Office in the Education and Resources team - please contact Nina if you have any suggestions for improving the DVD Library.

Social Prescribing & the NHS

Social prescription is for people who visit their GP but who would benefit from friendship, learning and exercise instead of drugs or medicine. We wanted to let you know that the National NHS Website has put a link to the U3A, in the section dealing with loneliness in older people.
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/loneliness-in-older-people/

An Online History Book Group?

With the recent start-up and success of a transatlantic Economist Reading Group, using videoconferencing, John Kaye from Furness U3A wants to see if U3A could do the same with history books. The idea is to use the same videoconferencing system, Zoom, used for the Economist Readers Group, and already in use by the Trust, and meet virtually, online. If you would like to take part in this experiment, please drop an email to John Kaye.

Exchange Programme

Uppsala U3A in Sweden has offered to participate in an exchange with a U3A somewhere in the UK. Jenny Carley, Chairman of Chester U3A and International Committee, said, “This will be their second exchange. The last one was in 2014 and reciprocated in 2015, with the Surrey Network. It is recommended that a programme and costs are discussed early in negotiations. On the last exchange there were twelve Swedish members who took part. This time they are looking to stay (four nights/five days) with U3A members and this would be reciprocated in Sweden at a later date to be agreed. Uppsala is a lovely city with an ancient and famous university. The Uppsala U3A or Senior Universitet is independent of the university but has good relations regarding use of some facilities. Its website has an English version.

Also, Ruth Keene from the International Committee has let us know about a selection of tours of Angers and Anjou region co-ordinated by Angers université du temps libre (similar to U3A but not an exact equivalent) with a view to a possible exchange with UK U3As. There are 4-day and/or 8-day tours of castles and rivers with wine and gastronomic specialities. For more details and to express your interest, please contact: Jeanne BELEN - belen.jeanne@yahoo.fr. Please note that the université du temps libre Angers is closed in July, August and September.

The international committee regularly arrange exchange groups with U3As in other European countries. If your U3A/Network is interested contact international@u3a.org.uk.

Electronic Research Journals

Chris Knight from the U3A National Research Sub-Committee said, “Have you ever wished you could gain access to electronic journals publishing research papers? Have you been able to do so in the past and would like to again? Do you want to keep up to date with published research in your field(s) of interest? We have had a steady stream of enquiries about whether it would be possible for the U3A to arrange online access either from home or through a university library, so we’ve been doing a bit of research (!) to see what the options are.
The aim would be to be able to download full text articles from a wide range of research collections. Please email us with your experiences – we are both members of the National Research Sub-Committee – Chris Knight and Rodney Buckland (Research Subject Adviser)".