Introduction to the new Wales Trustee, September 2021
I want to introduce myself as your newly elected Trustee for Wales and some ideas for going forward over the next months and years.
Before going any further, I want to thank Chris Winner for her excellent leadership over the 3 quite difficult years in her term of office.
Over the past 18 months or so, the world as we knew it has changed considerably, and is continuing to do so. It is thanks to the flexible and innovative approaches by members and various committees that the u3a in Wales continues to thrive and offer contact in various ways to members. I know that many have used platforms such as Zoom, text messaging, WhatsApp and even the telephone to keep members informed and engaged with activities albeit in a limited way.
As we are emerging from the spectre of lockdowns and toilet roll shortages, we are beginning to look to the future whatever shape that may take. I would love to hear what plans you have for your groups whether face-to-face, Zoom (other online groups are available) or a hybrid system.
The Third Age Trust has identified four key aims as the basis of a strategy for the Third Age Trust post pandemic:
- Aim 1 Supporting An Engaged, Strong and Vibrant Movement
- Aim 2 Making u3a membership an attractive opportunity for all Retired People
- Aim 3 Developing the u3a Voice
- Aim 4 Maximising the u3a Learning Model
A dedicated email address has been set up (firstname.lastname@example.org) and will be reinforced by an article in the next newsletter, members now have an open invitation to participate in a consultation period. The Aims and detail behind them, will be available on the website.
In addition to the dedicated email address, there will be two other ways for u3as to participate in shaping the strategy for Trust going forward via -
- An Online questionnaire - prepared using Survey Monkey and once finalised will be sent out at the end of September to all u3as allowing a three week response time.
- Focus groups - The aim is to have groups of around 10 members meeting during the final two weeks of September/first two weeks of October. The groups will be coordinated by Harriet Radermarcher from the office. If you are able to partake in a focus group, please contact me in the first instance by September 17th.
Talking of the future, I’m starting to think about the All Wales Conference for next year. Again, hopefully a face-to-face meeting, but if possible a hybrid system. I’d be grateful for any suggestions for a theme and a venue. We’ve enjoyed the Metropole in Llandrindod for some years now, but if you have any other suggestions, I’d welcome them.
I want to give some space here to thank the Trust Volunteers and Regional Support Volunteers for their work. I hope we can continue to have the good working relationship you’ve had with Chris Winner. I shall be organising a meeting in the near future so that we can discuss the way forward. What we need is one (or more) Public Relations Ambassador. Promoting and advocating for u3a is as important as ever now. Many people will have either lost their job or are looking for somewhere to keep their minds and bodies active and where better that the u3a. If you are interested in volunteering for any of these roles, please contact either me email@example.com or u3a Office 020 8466 6139. Training is given and expenses are paid when a Trust/PR Volunteer is acting on of behalf of the Trust.
I will be organising an All-Wales meeting via Zoom or Teams for Trust Volunteers, Support Volunteers and Network Contacts in early October. If you, or anyone you know, are interested in finding out more about the roles please let me know and I can send them an invite to the meeting.
For the time being, I will continue to update the Wales u3a: Keeping in Touch and Keeping Busy. But its continued use will depend on how much it is used.
To keep fully up to date with everything happening in the Trust and the wider movement, including information about the new Member Link https://www.u3a.org.uk/ initiative, make sure you have signed up for the monthly Newsletter from Sam Mauger the CEO of the Trust. https://www.u3a.org.uk/newsletter
Sue Shannon-Jones, Wales Trustee