We hope you are well and coping during this difficult time.
The committee, with the help of some of our members, have put together this new page which we hope will give a few moments distraction from the lack of U3A activities. We will add to this page on a weekly basis with new quizzes and other links as they become known. If you know of anything that is not listed let us know and we will add anything that is appropriate.
Please remember the advice we have all been given Stop the spread by staying at home, only go out when strictly necessary for food, medicine or exercise. Practice social distancing and from us, reach out to each other and keep in touch. If we create our own support network it will help those isolated to get through this.
If you know of a member, indeed anyone you believe to be vulnerable, who seems to have slipped through the official support network 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 great ideas and suggestions U3As have shared about keeping in touch with each other.
For those 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 Zoom or House Party 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.
For those with internet access
They provide virtual tours of many gardens including Hidcote, Highgrove, Kew, Wisley and Monet's Garden in Giverney. They can be found at
The National Gardens Scheme
They provide tours of a number of gardens including 2 in the Sevenoaks area, at Riverhill Himalayan Gardens and Great Comp.
National newsletter - Members who use email can sign up directly to the national newsletter. This is filled with information, stories from U3A groups and advice. You can sign up at National Newsletter.
Utilise Subject Advice - The Third Age Trust has a number of Subject Advisers who advise on setting up and running interest groups on a wide range of subjects. All have provided information on their subject areas and links to resources at Subject Advice
Running groups remotely - Where it is practical, consider running groups via social media and other technology which will allow you to interact online, video or conference call with several members at once. This could include closed Facebook groups, Skype, teleconference tools like WhyPay to ‘meet’ with your members.
Group leaders could request examples of what people are doing and how they are getting on, to share with the group.
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.
Quizzes - Every Saturday we post a new quiz and the answers to the previous quiz in the Links on the right of this page. Just a little something to keep the brain active and occupy a few hours whilst you exercise those big brains!
Facebook - If you are on Facebook why not join ‘Tiptree U3A’ and ‘U3A Keeping in Touch’, a private Group set up by the Third Age Trust just recently, now has over 2,500 members from U3As across the UK, sharing ideas, photos, quizzes, jokes and more to keep you busy and interacting with fellow U3A members across the country (and from abroad!).
There is advice about how you can keep safe on Facebook
WhatsApp - One suggestion for groups or just within interest groups could be keeping in touch on a WhatsApp group. This is reliant on members of the group having a smart phone that supports WhatsApp but is free to use and enables users to stay in touch by text and allows them to share photos. You can also make free audio and video calls via WhatsApp. There is advice at Make A Call On WhatsApp.
Silversurfers – A website dedicated to sharing knowledge, advice and resources for the over 50s.
On Line Learning
FutureLearn - offers you a powerful new way to learn online. Every course has been designed according to principles of effective learning, through storytelling, discussion, visible learning, and using community support to celebrate progress
Open Learn - Learning from the open University
YouTube has free music, film trailers, informative talks such as TED Talks, and tutorials on many subjects.
Other – Essex libraries, you can access free e-books and audio books using their system Borrowbox.