NOTICE ON CORONAVIRUS from U3A NATIONAL OFFICE
If a member has returned from one of the areas identified by the government and has any of the symptoms identified on the government website they should not hold interest groups in their own homes, or attend interest groups or attend monthly meetings until they have followed the NHS advice provided after calling 111.
If a U3A finds that a member has contacted coronavirus please let the Trust know immediately.
The members of interest groups that any member with coronavirus has attended should call 111 to ask for advice.
The monthly meeting should be cancelled for that month (and possibly longer) until the spread of the virus has been assessed.
Also consider using hand sanitizer gel in interest groups and monthly meetings reducing physical contact such as shaking hands until further information becomes available.
Chief Executive at National Office.
Managing AGMs during Coronavirus
To Chairs and Secetaries
U3As have been asking the Trust whether they should cancel their AGM due to the potential risk of coronavirus impacting on large groups of members, being older adults.
This advice is relevant for all U3As that have a model 2012 constitution, 2018 constitution or 2019 constitution. If you do not have a model constitution please phone the Trust advice team for further assistance.
Holding the AGM
1. The U3A should still plan and call an AGM (the model constitution provides that an AGM must be held every year).
2. U3As can send out the paperwork for AGMs as normal. In the AGM notice to all members, the opportunity for members to submit questions or comments in advance of the meeting if they are unable to attend as normal could be offered.
3. In terms of the timing of calling the AGM , the U3As would need to consider public health advice
- whatever guidance was in place at the time the notice of AGM went out,
- and monitor that guidance in the build up to the meeting.
NOTE: At the moment there does not seem to be any guidance mandating the cancellation of large scale events like corporate AGMs. Current government guidance says:
"The risk to the general public attending mass gatherings is very low."
4. It may be that certain categories of individuals (those having visited specified countries, those with symptoms etc) need to be excluded and the advice accompanying the AGM notice should be sensitively worded to that effect and be consistent with the guidance for the meetings over the coming days.
5. If a U3A needs to postpone their AGM under the model constitution no more than 15 months may elapse between successive AGMs. So, for example, if a U3A held an AGM on 1 March 2019, in principle they would have until 1 June 2020 to hold their next AGM. This might give them time to reschedule an AGM for a time when, hopefully, the coronavirus issue is less critical. If the coronavirus situation has not abated by the end of the 15 month time limit, we would not expect the Charity Commission to seek any enforcement action against the charity on the basis of a technical breach which is a consequence of serious health concerns and adherence to government guidance.
6. If an AGM is called but there is no quorum (e.g. because members are self-isolating) then the meeting will have to be adjourned. The constitution does not specifically require the adjourned meeting be held within the 15 month time limit set out above so an adjourned meeting could be held after the 15 month time limit has expired. The quorum at a re-convened meeting is the members present at that re-convened meeting (i.e. the normal quorum requirements fall away where there has been an adjournment).
So, where an AGM has been adjourned, it is possible that the members of the executive committee could constitute a quorum for the purposes of the re-convened general meeting.
NOTE: A U3A cannot call an initial AGM when the quorum was only the committee, this could only occur at a reconvened AGM following an inquorate initial AGM Meet Filing Deadlines. There is no technical requirement in the constitution to seek members' approval of the U3A accounts and annual return. If the accounts and annual return cannot be presented to the members at a meeting because that meeting has been cancelled or postponed, the trustees can sign them off and submit them to the Charity Commission – this would be preferable to missing the relevant deadlines. The finalised accounts could then be circulated to members by email or post, or simply presented at the next AGM.
Managing AGMs during coronavirus - in PDF form
The Third Age Trust continues to follow the national advice on coronavirus and will keep you updated with regular mailings when the advice changes.
Coronavirus - Latest Advice
To Chairs and Secretaries
Following the Government and NHS announcement yesterday, the Third Age Trust has created a dedicated page on the national website to keep you up to date with the latest guidance and advice - both general and specific to U3A.
Please let your members know that they can find it here
Living History in Unprecedented Times
U3A members are being asked to help craft a shared learning project where they create living history of this extraordinary time.
The project will look for personal thoughts, ideas and reflections on how this feels to you and what you are doing to deal with it. Members may want to keep an electronic diary or to find a little note-book which you can have close at hand to scribble down thoughts as they come.
We are asking people to write up anything they think relevant to having to be at home and your thoughts and reactions. You may wish to write something each day for example, or once a week or simply when something of note happens. You may read an article, book or see a programme which triggers some ideas or thoughts.
We are also looking for ideas and reflections on how you are keeping your interests going if you are online and if you have access on your television, radio or via the internet.
It's also pretty important to think of good things that happen so in the journal make an effort every day to list five things that gave you pleasure however small.
We will be expanding our support of this project in the coming days including suggested questions that you could ask yourself to help structure your thoughts.
We are currently recruiting volunteers to be contact points to offer support and advice.
If you want take part - please keep in touch with us. At the moment share your ideas at email@example.com but in the next few days we will have a dedicated email address for this living history project. So keep checking the website and national newsletter.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Please see below an updated Q and A summary of advice sent over the last few weeks.
Summary Q and A
Clarification on Special Mailing
To Chairs and Secretaries
Following the special mailing sent out yesterday evening (EM 03-17-20 coronavirus update) the Trust wants to clarify question 6 in the PDF Q and A that it refers specifically to the charity commission update. Please see below.
What should a U3A do about meeting Filing Deadlines for the Charity Commission?
There is no technical requirement in the constitution to seek members' approval of the U3A accounts and annual update. If the accounts and annual update cannot be presented to the members at a meeting because that meeting has been cancelled or postponed, the trustees can sign them off and submit them to the Charity Commission – this would be preferable to missing the relevant deadlines. The finalised accounts could then be circulated to members by email or post, or simply presented at the next AGM.