Keeping In Touch
Greetings Everyone, we hope you are well and coping in this very difficult time.
If you know of a member, indeed anyone you believe to be vulnerable, who seems to have slipped through the official support network net and have no family, friends or neighbours able to help them with food and essentials and is struggling, please put them in touch with the Essex Welfare Service Hub via essexwelfareservice.org and by calling 0300 303 9988, Monday to Friday between 8am to 7pm, and Saturday to Sunday between 10am to 2pm.
Social distancing does not mean we can’t carry on being social and so below are just some of the things available to help members keep in touch with each other:
Use Zoom. - Our monthly presentations are now offered twice a month via Zoom, one of the most popular videoconferencing tools currently in use - see our EVENTS page and latest Newsletter for details. Groups such as Ukes 4 All and Sing From The Heart are also using Zoom to keep their groups running, could your Group too? If you need help to get started visit our new page: Using Zoom.
WhatsApp: - Set up a WhatsApp group to keep in touch with your group or u3a friends. Most smartphones can use WhatsApp, it is free to use and you can stay in touch by text and sharing photos/videos. You can also make free audio and video calls and there is a desktop version. Download from your App store or visit WhatsApp and there is advice at:Make A Call On WhatsApp.
Local newsletters - We continue to issue our monthly Newsletter STANWAY NEWS (see Members page) and members are urged to keep sending articles in for inclusion. We have also issued 4 "eNews" bulletins (see Links at the side) to keep members entertained. Interest groups are encouraged to create and circulate their own short localised newsletters to maintain contact with group members.
National u3a Newsletter - Members who use email can sign up to receive the national u3a newsletter directly. Issued by Third Age Trust, it is filled with information, news and stories from u3a groups, and advice on many issues of interest. You can sign up by clicking here:National Newsletter.
Set your group members research or other tasks to do shared out via email, so members can work on it at home and can contact the group leader by phone or email if they have any questions or problems with task itself. Keep activities going and take it in turns to suggest one.
If you are on Facebook why not join the U3A - Keeping In Touch Facebook Page, a private Group set up by the Third Age Trust. It now has over 5000 members from u3as across the UK and even from abroad! Members are sharing information, advice, ideas, photos, quizzes, jokes, discussion topics, and more to keep busy, and are interacting with fellow u3a members they would otherwise never come into contact with.
Closed Facebook groups: - There is advice about how to set up a closed Facebook group at Make a Closed Facebook Group. There is also advice about how you can Keep Safe On Facebook. These can be used for exchanging ideas, resources, sources of materials, keeping in touch and developing online initiatives to keep members involved.
U3A Communities Online is a new site set up to help with the sharing of ideas and projects amongst the u3a community. The site is run by an informal group of volunteers who share an interest in the use of technology to enhance the u3a experience. The site is free to use.
Trust u3a is an online u3a that gives you the opportunity to join groups, talks and courses. Like any u3a activities are run by members for members.
FOR THOSE GROUPS THAT HAVE MEMBERS WITHOUT INTERNET ACCESS
Phoning each other - Set up a phone tree so that each member of a group could be responsible for calling two others at least once a week [this will be particularly important for members not on the internet]. Rotate who phones who. Make a phone-call once a week – to a U3A friend - especially someone on their own – just for a chat. The social interaction is such an important part of our informal learning ethos. Let other members know if you would like to keep in regular contact with other members.
Share your phone number (and/or email address) with other group members if you are happy to do so (many of you will be on bcc/blind copy lists).
Telephone conferencing -Why not consider using free conference call software – such as WhyPay which facilitates three or more people speaking on the phone together at once?
This will be particularly important for people who don’t have internet access or aren’t confident using it.
Reinitiate letter writing - Either to continue giving opinions as part of interest groups or as a pen pal type initiative to ensure people without internet access do not feel isolated. Write letters to your u3a friends – the ones you may see regularly and maybe those that you only see at monthly meetings or AGMs and are definitely due an update.