A warm welcome to all Members to our May Newsletter – delivered by post with our Spring Magazine to members not able to be on EMAIL, and to 844 members on EMAIL.
Key topic – our U3A continues to run – even though meetings stay suspended in line with Government rules. However, we will need to change and adapt with your help to operate in the new situation that is emerging from Lockdown. But as we have previously noted, committee is made up of volunteers – and we need new ones for this U3A to continue to exist.
Our U3A is still here – in this very strange situation when we cannot meet and greet each other directly. But we can talk to each other by phone or webcam, we can meet by internet applications like ZOOM, and we can communicate via EMAIL and our new website.
Your committee's role is to provide the framework for members and groups to operate in. It meets on Monday mornings via ZOOM rather than at the Civic, to oversee any problems or plans that we need to discuss; and formally once a month we have a committee meeting – with formal minutes, available on request from the secretary. The committee have spent some time in contacting everybody who had not renewed for 2020 or who had not registered for EMAIL, so that we could understand who wished to remain members and how to communicate with them in the most appropriate way. This means that we can now directly address 100 more members via EMAIL and have 100 fewer letters to post. We have to thank our membership secretary, Christine Butler-Meadows, for taking care of our Membership database – a precious asset in these paperless times.
We are encouraging groups to continue to keep in touch with their members and to operate where possible. Several groups are meeting via internet access or email, with language groups challenging their members by EMAIL.
However, we are aware that getting back to how we used to be could be some way off, and we need to explore ways of keeping going in the meantime. In Alsager you can even buy your fish at the market by card – cash is being used far less: we are working out to what extent our U3A can do the same. In particular, we will encourage renewals to be done online (queuing on Monday mornings may not be on for the rest of this year), but we are exploring ways of extending this to other payments.
The Committee is key in enabling our U3A to exist, so we are keen to hear from anyone who may be able to help; the more that help, the more the load can be spread. In particular, if you have secretarial skills, or finance knowledge, you would be very welcome – in fact you are needed! The committee is listed under 'Info' on our website and you will notice that two of our members serve in double roles; so any help will share their load.
Our magazine was due to be published in April. It was almost ready for the printers when we entered Lockdown, and we knew that distributing via group meetings would not be possible. So it has been published in May – primarily online for all those with EMAIL and computer access (a link was emailed to members), but as a printed edition for those not on EMAIL.
For those who receive this Newsletter by post, it is enclosed with a printed version of the magazine; we know several members do not use computers. Should anyone with a computer find they cannot for some reason access the online version, please contact our editor on firstname.lastname@example.org as we have a limited number of spare printed copies.
We are very grateful for the work our Editor, Eleanor Somerset, and her team do in producing the magazine. You will have seen that it contains advertising – both online or printed – and we encourage you to mention the magazine if any of these adverts meets your needs. We are most grateful to Dave Norcross for managing our advertising for more than twelve years. As he now is retiring, we need someone to fill this role, so if you can help, please contact the Editor.
We switched to our new website in April – www.alsageru3a.org.uk – hosted by ThenMedia, and since then there have been over 300 visits, many from the committee and news team.
Recent Government advice means that our Committee cannot lift the suspension of U3A meetings that we imposed on March 17th but will continue to watch and follow this advice. As advice changes, Committee will review how this applies to our various groups and meetings, taking into account that many of our members are in the "Clinically Vulnerable" group (those over 70) and several in the "Clinically Extremely Vulnerable Group".
Change seems inevitable in restarting activities and running our U3A. However, our Committee are determined to do their very best to keep our members safe, and to continue running: but it seems certain that this will involve changes, and we look to you to help support us in this.
I think we can anticipate that outdoor meetings are more likely to be possible initially, due to space and the outdoor environment. However, until Committee and the relevant group leaders agree, no U3A meeting may take place.
It seems likely that restrictions including distancing rules will remain for the rest of this year, so Committee are already considering the impact of continuing to run with restrictions. In particular, we have been discussing holding AGMs – a legal requirement – with other U3As and the U3A Trust. Equally the use of the Civic on Monday mornings could require many restrictions. The Committee will watch developments closely.
Roger Poole email@example.com