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Forget Zoom, WhatsApp and all that for now....I suggest a picnic in July, on the day and time of our normal meeting. The venue would be the expanse of grass near Worm Hill. From The Biddick Pub, Up Wormhill Terrace, past the original houses to the higher end of the terrace. There the land opens up to a massive green belt. We would have to bring our own chairs, our own food, and our own drink.
Our street did this on VE day (we have a greenbelt) and it worked perfectly, we had a great time. The chairs were placed at a safe social distance away from one another, we all enjoyed a picnic and could walk around chatting, as well as sitting. We all know to keep a safe distance, and it is still easy to have conversation and laughs practising social distancing. It would be great, but we would have to insist one one rule:
Nobody is allowed to visit anyone's house to use their toilet. Many of our members live in this area and this would be unfair and unacceptable during the pandemic. anyone needing the loo would just have to go home. So what do people think? Should we have a summer Lockdown Picnic? I'm sure the club wouldn't mind us using the car park.
Angela Burn, 23/5/20
In answer to Margaret's comments, I can't imagine how the U3A would be with social distancing. I have tried Zoom sessions with other groups and it would be a way of staying in touch, in the short term, if everyone has the technology.
The WhatsApp Craft group is working very well with about 10 members. Everyone is very supportive, but doing it with a big group might mean we'd be up all night reading the messages. I don't use Facebook much but would be willing to try.
Linda Willis, 22/5/20
A radical thought or two:
- I like the idea of a Facebook page because it can provide a simple instant response to questions, ideas as long as it is well marshalled...call the sheriff!
- There may be a danger that if most groups are going to 'Zoom' that the 'spirit' of Wessington may be lost or misplaced...they may become 'exclusive' unless other members have feedback in one form or another.
- In the long term that may provoke some thought on monthly meetings? Could you see two meetings a month, or as suggested previously two half meetings using lounge and hall for half the members at a time, dependent on social distancing? I’m sure this will reduce in time although we may still have to mask up. Obviously business could be shared as well as feedback from groups, but would a speaker be necessary if we are all finding motivation on line? Of course that may change when this crisis eases so meetings become an opportunity for socialising...coffee, cake ...chat!
- Just wonderIng about members not on-line and whether they have been included in this thought process?
- One further thought concerning U3A Day in October … have U3As been asked for opinions on whether this is a good idea or maybe delay until 2021? Given none of us know what Wessington U3A will look like how can we then be in a position to invite others to join? Just asking ....
Margaret Welsh, 21/5/20
A few ideas:
What about having more groups outside to start with? What about a Picnics group where people bring along a picnic and stay socially distanced but can go up and chat? There’s an open area in Princess Anne Park that might lend itself to that as a venue but people might be able to think of other venues.
Sandi and I play that Beach Bat game when we’re at the beach, you know the one where you “keep the kettle boiling”. That could become a group. Play with one partner for 5 minutes then switch. You would have to have a few pairs of beach bats and people could wear thin gloves to cut down sanitising problems. Again, you’d need an open space and fine weather.
People might want to do these groups more than once a month after weeks of lockdown. Also, the weather might not always be conducive. More members might want to do the Strollers group and we might have to have more than one group.
Liz Corry, 18/5/20
I have spoken to Jean and others who were supportive of me trying to start a conversation with all members who are on-line with a question about 'What will Wessington U3A look like at the end of this pandemic?'
I suspect what is called for is some blue sky thinking...thinking outside the box and I would encourage members to share ideas of how they think, for example, a monthly meeting might look given social distancing but bearing in mind the Club has a Lounge as well as a Concert Hall. Will speakers still feel comfortable about coming into a room of older people? We are the 'high risk' group after all. How many of us can socially distance in the Concert Hall? I reckon about 35 or so at the present restriction, a shade different from our usual number ...of course social distancing may be reduced in time...
When we think about groups and where they meet...morning walkers, strollers and cyclists may be able to continue their activities with obvious attention to rules...coffee mornings, cafes, restaurants, pubs, gardens, libraries, art gallery and museum visits, care homes all raise problems for groups that use them...as does the Club for quiz and t'ai chi as well as monthly meetings.
Will going to the theatre, to The Customs House, to Arts Centre Washington, to Beamish Museum remain off limits? No-one knows how long they will remain closed... Then we come to the issue of using a member's house to meet...who wants to come? Who wants to invite others to come?
Will the future be virtual? Wessington has always prided itself and been clear about the importance of friendship and socialising so where will that leave us? Technology is terrifically useful in times of crisis but I suspect for most it is no replacement for a friendly face, a smile, some encouraging words and physical contact.
I will leave this where it is...it would be good to see what other members think...what ideas they have for a new instalment of the U3A story. Perhaps the easiest option for sharing thoughts would be the Today or Comments page but if you would rather just get in touch with me... the email address is available. I look forward to being inundated with thoughts and ideas...one thing is for certain we are unable to return to Wessington U3A pre-2020...
Margaret Welsh, 16th May 2020