Welcome to our Shropshire U3A Network website, created to increase awareness of our Network and provide an easily accessible source of information for our members. Please explore our site, using the tabs at the top, to find out about the latest news and events, plus information on the U3A (University of the Third Age) in general. For suggestions on additional content or to add an upcoming event, please contact the Webmaster.
What is a Network?
There are many definitions of a U3A network, but basically a Network is formed when a group of U3As come together informally to share experiences and/or organize joint events on an ongoing basis. Generally the U3As are local to each other (although they may not necessarily reside in the same county or region) and form a self-help grouping that is not a part of the formal U3A governance structure. Networks exist throughout the United Kingdom and range from small networks of 3-4 U3As to much larger and more complex Networks that may span a whole region and have 20-30 U3A members. Our own Shropshire network currently has 14 members.
History of the Shropshire Network
Our Network had its first beginnings back in the spring of 1995, when members from 4 U3As (Wrekin, Whitchurch, Shrewsbury and Oswestry) met for coffee in the White Lion pub in Shrewsbury and agreed ‘to do something’. This led to their first collective ‘Away Day’ in Shifnal in 1996, which had several different subject groups on offer, including Making a Notebook and a discussion on ‘Is it politically correct to be politically correct?’. The day was an obvious success and it was agreed to have yearly meetings to share ideas and plan other Away Days hosted by the member U3As. And so the Network was born! The Network slowly grew in numbers, with meetings hosted by member U3As on a rotational basis. As membership increased, it was decided to hold the meetings in Shrewsbury, a central location with good road and rail links. This has proved popular and the Network now meets 3 times a year in the Roy Fletcher Centre, Shrewsbury.
Our Network today
As a mature and established Network, we are now an active group of independent U3As within Shropshire and its surrounding area, that come together to share ideas and experiences in a friendly and supportive environment. Although our Network has a constitution and abides by the Objects of the Third Age Trust, it is not a part of its formal governance structure. Rather, we are a self-supporting ‘cooperative’ that works in the interests of its members, promoting the U3A principle of lifelong learning in a friendly and fun way.
Our Network is organized by the Network Team:
Chairman: Alan Cartwright (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Vice-chair: Glynis Nicholls (email@example.com)
Treasurer: Robert Toft (firstname.lastname@example.org)
and our Minutes Secretary
The Aims of our Network are as follows:
- Ensure we continuously improve what we do as a Network, covering topics and areas of interest relevant to member U3As
- Share best practice and experience between Network member U3As
- Arrange meetings and workshops of interest, keeping all member U3As fully informed
- Facilitate sharing of information and knowledge via meetings and the website, to ensure members are aware of any new, relevant communications from the Third Age Trust and from our own or other Networks
- Encourage and support collaboration between individual member U3As, as well as identifying opportunities for cooperation with other U3As, Networks and regional organizations
- Represent the views of member U3As at Regional and National meetings and support the national Network Link, disseminating information from the meetings to all Network members
- Support opportunities for research collaborations between the Network and academic organizations
There are several Networks within our U3A region, an area which covers the counties of Shropshire, Staffordshire, Herefordshire, Worcester, Warwickshire and the West Midlands. There are also Networks in the surrounding areas including the North West region, incorporating Cheshire and Greater Manchester, and in Wales. Over time it is hoped that we can build links with some of these Networks.
Currently, as part of the West Midlands U3A Region, we have a representative from our Network Team as part of the Regional Team, which supports the West Midlands Trustee to coordinate activities such as workshops within the region and the Regional Conference. It meets 3 times a year, in January, May and October and has 15 members, comprising Network representatives, Regional Volunteers and Research Ambassadors. Our participation helps to build local links with neighbouring Networks and ensure our members are kept informed of regional news and information.