Photo taken by Doncaster U3A member Wendy on a walk along Angelsey Coastal Path


Dear <<First Name>>,

As we are now firmly in autumn and many of us are in lockdown,
U3As are coming up with ever more creative ideas for keeping our communities together and enjoying each others company.

We will be working with U3As across the movement to identify how many have members who are not connected with activities over the winter. We will discuss how we can keep these members as part of our community during the winter months.

The U3A Development programmes, overseen by Hilary Jones and led by two very experienced U3A members, are supporting U3As to
thrive and build on the knowledge and ideas of member U3As across the United Kingdom. 

Separately the learning winter programme will be rolled out over the coming months and the second podcast from our very own U3A radio is now available to listen to. 

Keep safe and keep creative and I hope you will enjoy this November issue.

With regards,
Sam Mauger
Chief Executive
In this issue...

 U3A Radio Podcast - Episode 2
Events with the British Library, National Trust and more
Social Media News 
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News from the Trust

U3A Radio Podcast Episode 2

Our second episode of U3A Radio Podcast is out on our YouTube Channel. Listen to it now.

The podcast is made by talented U3A members, Ela, Nick and Peter, who all have experience in radio. In this episode, they talk to the winner of the National Creative Writing competition, a U3A member and author who refers to herself as the ‘real Joan Collins' and other amazing members who make up our movement.

This is going to be a monthly radio podcast, released on the 17th of each month at 6am. Subscribe to our YouTube channel here.

If you have a story that you think would work as part of the U3A Radio podcast, get in touch.

Brand Centre

Thank you for everyone who has visited the brand centre and for all the feedback and amazing ideas we have received. Keep checking back as we're updating the site all the time.
If you are a Pathfinder U3A, you can access the Pathfinder starter pack. If you have any difficulties, contact the support team. Again in the next week, we're hoping there will be more materials that can be customised.

Survey with Together

U3A is asking its members to participate in a major new survey which seeks to find out how we can heal divides and bring society closer together. This is part of /Together, a coalition of organisations around the UK. 

We would like you to use the survey to share your thoughts and ideas including if you think U3A could play an active role in helping to improve connections between generations and within our communities. We are collating your survey answers and will pass this on to /Together.

The survey should only take five minutes. Take part in the survey.

See more partnerships in our Partnerships section further down the newsletter.

Your Bitesize Newsletter

Your November Bitesize Newsletter
Your Stories

"I really got into Genealogy first through a U3A group. It was great to have help from more experienced people when I was just starting out. It’s helped me keep sane during the current situation because there’s always more to discover."

Ruth, Hawkhurst U3A

All Your Stories are learning themed for this newsletter. We want to hear about your U3A learning experiences – what new things have you learnt as a result of being in U3A? Contact us at


Learning Events

We have so many exciting events coming up. These are a mixture of partnership events with organisations including the British Library and the National Trust as well as events led by our talented members. To book on any of the events below, see our Online Events page.

Festive Cookery Demonstration

On Monday 14 December between 10.30-11.30, join roving Chef Alex from ‘Vegetarian for Life’ for a festive live cookery demonstration from his kitchen. 

Alex will be showing U3A members how to make three recipes that not only look and taste good but are vegan too. The three recipes are for Mushroom Wellington, the North African filo pastry dish M'hancha and finally, mincemeat muffins. 

The British Library - The Material Culture of Texts

Join us on 9 December from 10.30-11.30 for a virtual event with The British Library.

Predominantly focusing on the early modern period, Alexander Lock, Curator from the British Library, will explore how the material features of books and manuscripts can communicate meaning to the reader or in some cases, fundamentally alter the meaning of the written contents. 
The welcome warmth and colour of the Autumn sun @NationalTrust 

The Role and History of the National Trust

Paul Boniface, Secretary of the National Trust, will be talking to U3A members on two dates, 14 or 18 January from 10.30-11.30 about the role and history of the organisation. Paul, who has worked for the National Trust for more than 20 years, will chart the history of the organisation from the end of the 19th century explaining the charity's mission and how it has responded to changing conservation challenges of the past 125 years.

A Taste of Japan

A series of short virtual talks on Japan and its culture will be starting on 27 January 2021.

From then onwards, there will be one event per month. More information will come soon on the events page.

Any member who could add to the variety of talks - such as an ikebana demonstration or origami - please contact Gill Russell 
All these events and more can be found on the Online Events page. We're adding more all the time so do keep checking back.

Over 400 U3A Members Counted Themselves In For Maths Week

Held alongside Maths Week England, U3A Maths Week consisted of three interactive sessions for U3A members of all maths abilities.

The feedback has been great with members saying they found the sessions
'enjoyable, stimulating and inspiring.' The sessions were so popular that we hope to repeat some in the new year.
Online Winter School

An online Winter School is being planned for January & February 2021.  This will include a variety of courses such as Latin, Philosophy, Creative Writing, Poetry, Gardening and many more. These will be available to book soon on the Online Events page of our website.

Regional Events

Wales U3A Creative Writing Ceremony

The Winner and runners up of the Welsh Creative Writing Competition were announced at a glitzy virtual awards ceremony on 11 November. 
Jo Shone came in third place with her story, ‘Going Down’ whilst Margaret Preston’s story ‘Aunty Gwen’ came second. Tina Lukey was the overall winner with ‘Wills Important Day.’ 


Thank you for all your amazing photo submissions into U3A Eye over the last few months. Here are a selection of some of the photos, see more and submit your own on our website.
Our Winter Learning Programme is now in full swing with a wide range of new initiatives you can access in the Learning section of our website. 

Your Battle of Britain Stories

Do you or your friends and family have a story to share on Battle of Britain and the Blitz? U3A members from across the UK have been contributing their experiences.
If you would like to share your stories, please either fill out our online form or contact Trust Volunteer Carole Chapman for more information.

Subject Sharing

The learning team, with British History Subject Advisor Ian McCannah, is exploring whether there is interest in creating a central database of subjects covered by groups across the country.  
The aim would be to facilitate contact across the UK between groups covering the same topic. This will be run as a pilot focussing only on British History.

If you are interested in this idea, please complete this questionnaire by 16 December. More details on this project can be found on the Learning National Programmes Page.

Winter Watch

With the colder weather setting in, we are asking U3A members to share images of their local, personal wintery views and experiences. Submit your photos on the Winter Watch page to be included in a Winter themed gallery.
Photo credit: Chris of Limebrook U3A
This is just a snapshot of the initiatives on offer so please take a look at the learning pages for more. 
Your Stories

“I never dreamt in a million years that I would play a ukulele in my late 70s. Now at 83, I can’t wait to get back to my group. Its so much fun I just love it.” 


Advice News 

New Partnership with Independent Age 

This winter U3A have a partnership with Independent Age to provide our members with quick access to their free and confidential advice line.

To access the Independent Age helpline, call freephone to 0800 319 6789 or email your query to

If you know what you want to talk about, say the codeword 'U3A' when you call or email and you will be put directly through to an advisor.

As well as their advice line, Independent Age provide a series of free guides which can be found on their website.
Independent Age provide regular support and phone calls to people who are lonely and they will be passing on details of the U3A movement to people who they think might benefit. An article about U3A will be running in the December edition of their In Touch magazine, promoting the many great ways you all find to learn, laugh and live.

Volunteer with the U3A Office Advice Line

Do you want to help the movement during these unprecedented times, providing information and guidance for members who are running U3As?
We are looking for volunteers with a good knowledge of the U3A movement and the work of committees. Ideally we’d like volunteers who have some understanding of help-desks, knowledge based software or cloud based phone systems or who have worked in customer support roles previously.

This role is home-based. Training and support meetings will be held virtually with team members and we will provide the software for you to access our telephone system on line.

For an informal discussion contact Mingma Norman, Volunteer Development Officer.
Network Links

Network Links has now been added to the Support for U3As section of the National Website. 

Included in this section is information about all of the different networks across the UK and a Frequently Asked Questions section about networks.

U3A News

Olton & District U3A Line Dancing

Olton & District U3A’s Line Dancing Group had their first Zoom meeting this month.  
Joint Group-Convenor, Sue, said, “Fantastic but equally very different. You cannot depend on following the person behind, oh no, because there is no-one there, you have to listen. We advised our dancers to clear a safe space, throw the cat out and go for it. And that is exactly what they did.”

What unique interest groups have you moved online? Let us know at 

Cheltenham U3A Puzzles

A member at Cheltenham U3A has been creating virtual jigsaws with a general theme of Cheltenham or Cheltenham U3A, with pictures of the landscape or of members.

You can have a go at the puzzles here.

Farnham U3A New Website

Farnham U3A has built a new website. The volunteer team went to great effort capturing information on Farnham U3A's 100+ interest groups.
As part of the new website, Farnham U3A have recorded some of the members and the company they worked with talking about the process. You can listen to these on the news section of Farnham U3A's website.

Is your U3A using the new look? We would love to see it - share it with us at
What will your U3A be doing this festive season? Has your craft group been working remotely on a project? Or are you planning a virtual celebration? We want to hear about all your festive projects and celebrations so please get in touch with your stories and photos at

News from the Board

Ian McCannah, Chair of the Third Age Trust

"The government splits the UK into nine English regions and three devolved nations - Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Representations have been made to the Trust stating that our long-standing references to "Regional Trustee" and "National Office" do not fully reflect this administrative structure, particularly in relation to the devolved nations.
As a result, the Board has decided that Regional Trustees will be referred to as the "Trustee for Northern Ireland", "Trustee for East of England", etc and that "National Office" will be referred to as "U3A Office". These changes will be effective from 1 December.
We are having a Trust EGM next month - you can read about the reasons for this on the website. Afterwards, there will be a Plenary Session covering how U3As and the Trust can work together to ensure the movement is well positioned for the return, hopefully, to more normal activities next year. It will include a presentation of members received by the Trust on this subject followed by a Q&A session."
You may be interested in reading the Development Plan, formed by Ian McCannah and the Board of Trustees. Click the button below to read this.
The Development Plan
We would really love to know how you are planning to stay connected with the U3A community, and your larger community, over the festive period. Get in touch to let us know your ideas and plans.

Volunteer News

National Trustees Week

Trustees Week was this month. To celebrate and say thank you to our trustees, we shared daily content showcasing some of our amazing trustees across the movement on our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Sources blog. 

To support trustees in their role, we had a series of events and tutorials across the week.

'This was a good humoured, well informed session with excellent tutors. The email beforehand requesting participants to view an explanatory video set the tone as it was excellent. I couldn’t recommend the session more highly.' - A U3A attendee.
Your Stories of Being A Trustee 

In response to our social media content for Trustees Week, U3A members shared some of the things they enjoy about their role.  

“I have been on the committee for three years and have just become Chairman. I enjoy getting to know our members and their views and, especially at this time, making sure everybody is OK. Admittedly we are a small U3A which makes that much easier. I also enjoy getting new groups started.”

Vivien, Harpenden U3A

Coming Your Way Soon: Volunteers Fest

Building on the success of our Trustee’s Week events, a week-long programme of events is being prepared for all Trust Volunteers between 11 and 15 January. 
Watch this space - more details coming soon.

Social Media News

We've been sharing your beautiful photos on social media, including this from Susie Berry of her U3A pumpkin.


U3A members have been using the Keeping In Touch Facebook group to share their photo art.  This was instigated by Brian Snelson and Jim Palmer. Brian, from Hockley and Hawkwell U3A, said, "Many 
members enjoy post processing photos they have taken or creating interesting art from their photos. We use #u3aphotoart to share these on the Keeping In Touch group on Facebook. If you want to take part, join the group and upload your modified photos using the hashtag."
Photo credit: Colin of Reading U3A, Yvonne of Cardiff U3A
Your Stories of Being A Trustee 

“I am a Chairperson. Two words come to mind when I think of what I enjoy about being a trustee. Creativity and fulfilment.

Creativity - one of the problems that comes with retirement is the lack of opportunity to apply your lifetime experience and skills to some purpose. I am not artistic or musical, but I have some talent in spotting opportunities, working with talented people and in planning and making things happen.

Fulfilment - feeling useful again makes me want to get up in the morning! It is wonderful when a member takes the trouble to send a note or an email to say they appreciate what the Committee is doing for them. The pandemic has been a challenge, but with challenges come new opportunities and these provide outlets for our creativity and fulfilment and that benefits everyone.”

Venie, Causeway U3A 
Peter, St Neots U3A, shared this photo on the U3A Keeping In Touch Facebook group.


Our Sources Blog has been busy over the last month, with posts from trustees talking about their roles, a piece discussing learning in the movement and updates from U3A groups.

Read it here.
Get your 2021 U3A Diaries from our shop on the National Website.

Finance News

Kevin Traynor, Finance Manager

There has been a number enquiries regarding Gift Aid advice, especially concerning subscriptions for Third Age Matters magazine.

U3As may claim Gift Aid on their members' subscriptions unless the members are entitled to benefits which equal 25% or more of their local subscription. I have recently confirmed this advice with our tax advisers.

The following are not benefits as they are part and parcel of delivering the aims of the charity:
•    refreshments at meetings
•    contributing to the cost of refreshments at members homes
•    the use of venues for U3A/ meetings/activities
•    TAM magazine subscriptions

If a U3A owned its own premises and made them available for members' personal use then that may be seen as a benefit.

In short, the subscriptions U3As receive from their members are treated as donations by HMRC and so Gift Aid may be claimed on those donations in full; this assumes associated Gift Aid Declarations are held by the U3A.   

Third Age Matters

November Issue Out Now

Third Age Matters is out this month with exciting articles including an interview with the astronaut, Tim Peake, as well as news about U3As across the movement.

What are you looking forward to?

As we look forward to 2021 and getting back together to enjoy our U3A group activities once more, what are you most looking forward to doing that you have not been able to during lockdown?
We have all missed social contact, but is there anything else you have missed that perhaps surprised you?

What have you gained through lockdown?

Is there anything you will continue to do after lockdown that you did not do before?

Please send your answers to the editor Joanne Smith.
Curious about the various U3A communications platforms? See them in the button below in this guide created by Chair of the Communications and External Affairs Committee, Sue Stokes.
U3A's Communications Platforms

Media News

Do you want to help raise the profile of U3A?

We are looking for volunteers with knowledge and experience of working in a PR, media or marketing capacity to become PR Advisers. You would be part of your Regional Team and linked to the national Communications Team. Volunteers will be part of a UK wide team with other PR Advisers.  

The role is home-based but could include travel around the region or country, with occasional team meetings in London, when permitted. Most meetings will be conducted online. Expenses will be paid under the Expenses Policy of the Trust. 

For an informal discussion contact Sue Stokes, Chair of the Communications and External Affairs Committee.
Your Stories

"Some years ago Glossop U3A ran a poetry competition limited to four lines with a maximum of four words a line.
It proved so popular that a booklet of the entries was published.
One of my efforts:
Amo, Amas, Amat.
Latin what a bore.
That's three lines done,
Just need one more."

- Clive, Glossop U3A

High Street Project

We really need your help on this exciting project. This is a major UK-wide research project looking at local high streets before and after Covid-19. See more on Sources.

Data and photos have been collected of approximately 20,000 retail outfits across the UK. We're looking for a volunteer with the skills and enthusiasm to help create a comprehensive, all-searchable database.
If this is something you could assist with, email project lead Michaela Moody at

Beacon News

Join Beacon Now 

Are you considering joining the Beacon family? 

There are some 450 U3As currently using Beacon, the U3A management system, who are getting set to move over to the upgraded system - Beacon 2. The process will be automatic and the Beacon Upgrade team are helping U3As make the move as easy as possible.

You can also wait until Beacon 2 arrives officially just be patient with us as we need to prioritise those U3As through the migration process first.

If you'd like to talk it through with a member of the Beacon team then contact

Subject Advice News

New Amateur Radio Subject Adviser

Circenester U3A member, Michael Meadows, is the first Amateur Radio Subject Adviser. 

He said, “Amateur radio is a fun way to learn about radio technology and make friends. It’s both a technical communications hobby and a recreational activity that gives a true sense of personal achievement.

In lockdown conditions, I feel very fortunate to be able to keep in daily contact with the amateur radio community from home.”

Subject Adviser for Natural History

Tim Williams is the new Subject Adviser for Natural History. Of his new position he said, ‘I am delighted to share my enthusiasm with like-minded members and hopefully new converts.
Interacting with nature is good for body mind and soul, whether it is finding a strange weed in the garden, observing the birds on the feeder, enjoying the antics of the squirrels or seeing creepy crawlies scurrying far cover when I lift a stone. I hope we can soon enjoy nature walks in the company of others and explore our
wider environment'

Photo credit: Tim Williams
See all subject advice news on our website.
Your Stories

"I learned to play Bridge through Fleet U3A when I retired and now I teach Bridge to beginners. I am even managing to do it via Zoom with no cards!" 

Paddy, Fleet U3A


Life Story

U3A has partnered with Lifestory, a housing service with the ambition that their tenants make the most of life when they are no longer working.  U3A is proud to be working with Lifestory during this challenging time to help to support existing U3A members across the UK.  We'll keep you updated about how this new partnership develops.

Tonic Housing

We’ve been in conversation with Tonic Housing, an organisation that creates LGBT+ retirement communities. It was established to address the issues of loneliness and isolation of older LGBT+ people, and the need for specific housing and support provision.

A representative for Tonic said, 'Rather than just being ‘LGBT+ friendly’, our services will be actively affirming of the lives, histories, needs and desires of LGBT+ people.'


VOICE is a Newcastle- based organisation who are part of the National Innovation Centre for Ageing. They are keen to work with other organisations who contribute to healthy ageing.

They have agreed to set up a U3A discussion tab on their webpage in the Groups section, which will be a private group for the sole use of U3A members. Questions or statements will be posted with the idea of generating a discussion which will contribute to ongoing U3A Research Projects or SLPs and to the implementation of the Development Plan.

The first subject is Ageism, a subject on which we are sure our members have many opinions.

There are more details on how to access this on the button below.
Details on how to access the VOICE forum

Celebrations and Thank Yous

Thank You

Carole, a member of U3A Forest of Dean, wrote in to thank her painting group convenor, Vicky Bagley. Vicky has been emailing members of the group with a topic for the month, ideas and has also been encouraging members to try Zoom.

Carole said, ‘I have been shielding since March, and her emails have been my contact to the outside world. Her emails have encouraged and spurned me on. I am so very grateful to Vicky, and appreciate all her hard work.’

Do you want to say thank you to someone? Email us at

Holmes Chapel & District 10 Year Anniversary

Holmes Chapel & District U3A have celebrated their ten year anniversary this month. They planted trees and a U3A flower bed, displayed a large U3A banner in various locations and yarn bombed the town in yellow and blue. They will also be running a six day programme for their local radio, including recordings of their members.

In Focus

Allan Walmsley, Trustee for West Midlands

2016 had been a difficult year for me. I was struggling for something meaningful to do after retiring for the 4th time. Then a flyer fell through my letterbox seeking support to start up a U3A in a local church hall. “What’s a U3A?” I asked my wife. “No idea”, was her reply, “but why don’t you go and find out?”… and that was the start. 

I joined the new committee as Vice Chair and within 3 years we had grown to over 300 members with almost 50 interest groups. It was a delight to be able to work on lots of new innovations right from the start. 

I wanted to understand more about the movement, so I joined the Regional Support Team for the West Midlands.  Most national committees are made up of U3A members just like me, and it made me realise that there are many able and experienced members committed to the movement. 

Since October, I’ve been the Trustee for the West Midlands Region which gives me an even greater involvement at national level. Hopefully, by the time I finish my 3 year stint, fewer people in this Region will need to ask “What’s a U3A?”
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