u3a members from the West Midlands featured in the Tonight programme on 11 March. Read more in media news.


Dear <<First Name>>,

It is a year since we have been living with Covid-19 and a year since the first set of lockdowns began. We have had a very challenging year, but we have learned much about each other and about our movement.

We have shared skills, time, thoughts and experiences. We have supported each other and remained a strong community. We will be keeping a watching brief on changes to advice as the nations begin to emerge out of lockdown. We are looking forward to seeing each other again.

We are just commencing a World Health Organisation decade of Healthy Ageing and more communities in the United Kingdom are focusing on being age friendly communities. The Future Lives programme (see Events further down the newsletter) is focusing on one of those important themes, housing, so please look at the work that they are doing.

We all want to feel optimistic, look to a new future, and have the u3a movement back in the heart of every community.

Keep Safe and Keep Strong

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

Spring Learning Initiatives
u3a News
u3a on the Tonight Programme
Click here to open the newsletter in your browser, in which format you can zoom in to make it easier to read.
Dee from Westbury u3a has reminded us of spring with this cheerful photo posted on our Keeping In Touch Facebook group.

News from the Trust

More reflections from Sam on a year of lockdown and restrictions.

A year since the first lockdown

Members' reflect on their year throughout the newsletter in Your Stories. We will be sharing these reflections on our social media platforms and on our Sources blog. Marie Curie are having a Day of Reflection. Find out more on their website.
Transcript of Sam's Message

Member Link

Trustees and volunteers in each region and nation across the movement have been phoning u3a members as part of the Member Link programme. Member Link is an initiative to help stay connective and active during this time. 

You can find all the resources in one place on our website.  u3as have been sharing ideas with each other and we will be sharing some of these on our 
Sources blog over the next few weeks.

Finance Q&A

John Bent and Beryl Shepherd delivered a popular finance workshop last week and to meet demand, have created a PDF of the questions asked which you can download by clicking the yellow button.
Finance Q&As
Your Stories

Terrific technology!

In lockdown I'm learning new skills
and each new success brings me thrills!
Like Messenger video for a chat
and Zoom for groups; how cool is that.

Just heard about app called House Party,
if I can download and use; what a smarty!
So much tech to keep in touch with family and friends,
still I'll be so glad when the lockdown ends.

- poem from Irene, Edinburgh u3a
Read more reflections on our Sources blog

Download your Bitesize Newsletter

Our Bitesize newsletter is a shorter, printable version of the newsletter to post for those not online - or to share as a snapshot of what the newsletter is all about for those not yet signed up.

Bitesize Newsletter

Learning News

Spring is here and so is our new learning programme
  • Pets of the Furred Age - share photos and stories of your pet, like Conor (right), dog of Trust volunteer Bob Duckmanton.
  • Build a Bird Box - create a bird box or bird feeder and share what you have made with us.
  • Learn, Laugh, Move - each month will spotlight a different fitness activity (this month's is Yoga) and encourage u3as to share what they are doing.
  •  Around the UK in 80 words - share images, places of interest and knowledge from your local area.
  • Extreme Crochet - share your ambitious and unusual crochet projects, like this (left) by Trustee for Wales Chris Winner. Take part in a series of practical Zoom workshops for Crocheters that will be run as part of this initiative. 
  • Made it! Make it! Mask it! - a makeover of our ongoing initiative Made It! Make it!, submit your homemade masks. 
For an upcoming learning initiative celebrating food from around the world, we are looking to hear from members with knowledge and skills in a particular world cuisine, especially if you have family recipes or have lived in the country. Get in touch.

Calling artists and photographers

The u3a virtual choir is back. To create the YouTube video for their latest song, they need artistic representations of the theme, 'After the Storm." Please upload your contribution on our website before entries close on Wednesday 16 April.

British History Swap

There has been a great response to the pilot launched last year to see if the 1,000 plus British History groups within the movement would be interested in swapping their presentations. To register an interest, go to the learning pages. 
Listen to episode six of our u3a radio podcast and find all previous episodes on our YouTube channel.

See all these programmes on our learning pages. These are complemented by a continually updated line-up of online talks, interactive sessions and events open to all members via the Online Events Page.

u3a News

Causeway u3a Virtual Coffee Morning

Causeway u3a has started virtual coffee mornings. u3a members meet in the Zoom 'lobby' and then, using Zoom break out rooms, go to 'virtual tables' in groups of four or six.
Venie, Chair of Causeway u3a, says “This has been so successful in maintaining our social networks and combatting loneliness that we may well continue to offer it after Covid for those who find travel difficult or who just enjoy a nice friendly chat”.

Mac appointed first manager for county walking cricket team

Mac, u3a Subject Adviser for Walking Cricket, has become the manager for the first ever Yorkshire Cricket Foundation Walking Cricket team. Read the full story on our website. Mac featured in local press coverage, including in the Barnsley Chronicle.
Your Stories

"Until March 2020, Brecon u3a met weekly, with around 100 members coming along for the pleasure of being together. Losing that was very sad – but there’s been a very productive bounce back, as Brecon u3a ‘boldly goes’ on Zoom.

Since early summer, weekly ‘meetings’ have resumed on Thursdays, with many new tech skills being learned, and much interest and entertainment generated. Freedom to pursue group activities is very much Covid dependent at the moment, but Zoom provides a lifeline.

- John, Brecon u3a

News from the Board

Chair of the Third Age Trust, Ian McCannah

"Some members have asked whether u3a day should be postponed again due to uncertainty on when lockdown will end.  Plans were already in place before the roadmap out of lockdown was announced and so the u3a movement is remaining focussed on June 2.  You can see ideas on how you can mark and celebrate u3a day from Sue Stokes in u3a day news further down the newsletter.

I’m pleased to say that some u3a Committees are planning outdoor events - flowerbeds are being planted, yarn bombing is being prepared, walking cricket matches are planned, flash mobs are being orchestrated and many more truly innovative initiatives are on the drawing board -  you can see more ideas also on the u3a day page on the national website.

Enjoy the Easter break - hopefully, another milestone on the road to a return to u3a life.
"After establishing the Diversity and Inclusion Committee as one of the Trust's key Committees, Doreen Raine (Dorking & District u3a), has decided to stand down and hand over the reins to Sue Southwell (Hamble Valley u3a). A big thank you to Doreen for her commitment to the work of the committee and to Sue for taking on this role."
In our last newsletter, we asked for photos from u3a members' walks and we recieved these from Mike of Dundee u3a and Marian of Islington u3a. 

Media News

u3a members feature in ITV's Tonight Programme which aired on 11 March. In this 'How To Age Well' programme, Martin Kemp talks to u3a members and CEO Sam Mauger about positive ageing in a virtual coffee shop discussion.
The episode can be watched on ITV Hub or STV player, for members in Scotland. 

u3a featured in an article in the Guardian about older adults embracing the internet whilst an article, 'How digital is opening up later life learning' in a supplement in The Times, out today, features the innovative ways u3a has remained connected.

Has your u3a featured in your local media recently? We'd like to hear about it -
Become a PR Adviser

PR advisers are working across the u3a regions to raise the profile of the u3a movement and to help individual u3as to make the most of PR and publicity opportunities. There are PR Advisers in Scotland, North East, Yorkshire & Humberside, East of England, London, South West and North West.

If you would like to join the team, please get in touch with Margaret Fiddes.
This photo was submitted into Winter Watch by Clive of Berwyn u3a. This learning initiative is closing on 31 March, so get your photos in now.

National Events

Grinling Gibbons: The Michelangelo of Woodcarving
Thursday 8 April, 10am 

In this pre-recorded film launch, leading curators from the Wallace Collection, Royal Academy and the V&A discuss Britain’s famous woodcarver: Grinling Gibbons. Working between 1671 and 1721, Gibbons' trademark baroque sculptures are instantly recognisable.
Taste of Japan Repeat Talk 
Tuesday 13 April, 2pm 

Due to high demand, the Japan talk this month will be repeated in April. The talk will look at an exploration into Zen in everyday life and Temples, Shrines and Gardens.

Discovering Japan
Thursday 22 April, 10.30am

This exciting new talk looks at the Japanese Summer festivals, Japanese food and also offers a personal insight into living and working in Japan.

These and more can be found on our online events page.
Your Stories

"For me this year has been a year of new experiences and new opportunities.

I have learnt to use Zoom and Teams and taken part in most of my u3a groups as well as making new friends and joining in many online activities. Research and writing a psychology course has taken up  a lot
of time. I took up embroidery again and was in my garden daily. 

I miss my family and grandchildren and ache for a hug. I can't
wait to get back with my choirs again.But on the whole lockdown was a
time of opportunity."

- Beryl, South Manchester u3a

Other Events

u3a Future Lives Event

Tuesday 13 April 10am

This event, hosted by the u3a Future Lives group, aims to have a discussion with other u3a members to identify the priorities to achieve improvements in the lives of older adults. Enrol and find out more about the project.  

u3a Science Network Virtual Meeting

20 April 10.30am-3pm

This is a science-based learning event with 3 presentations each followed by questions, with a break for refreshments and for lunch. Book now and if you have any queries, please send them to

Slow Ways Talk

Tuesday 20 April 10am or Monday 17 May 2pm

The Slow Ways Project aims to create a network of walking routes that connects across Great Britain once lockdown is lifted. 
Dan Raven-Ellison and Rob Bushby from Slow Ways are hosting two webinars for u3a members interested in hearing more about this project, followed by a Q&A session. Book your place on either date.
u3a in the time of Corona

The u3a Diary Project has become a book. It chronicles the reactions of u3a members to coronavirus and isolation, through diary entries, drawings, photographs and poems. Order the book.


On Sources this month, read about the innovative way Causeway u3a has been running their art group, a recipe sharing group at Shepway & District u3a and the experiences of a member who started a storytelling YouTube channel over lockdown.

Today we have also posted an article filled with u3a members' reflections on the last year.

Find it all on Sources now and contact us with your stories.

Recruitment Campaign

Recruitment Toolkit Available on Sources now

On Sources this month, is a toolkit created by members and coordinated by the Recruitment Working Group intended to help u3as retain and recruit members.

Paul Martinez, Chair of the Recruitment Working Group, says, ‘The toolkit is the product of months of hard work by a Working Group of 14 u3as and a group of over 60 Pathfinder u3as. This is a brilliant example of self-help and without this joint effort, we wouldn’t have a toolkit to help us retain our existing members and recruit new ones.’ Read it on our Sources blog.
Your Stories

"Here is a photo of our photographic group on Zoom this afternoon. We have kept going all through the pandemic. I only started last year during the lockdown so I haven’t met any of my group in person. I only know them from the thumbnail picture on my PC." - Tracy, Ayslham & District u3a

"Aylsham & District u3a also had their first virtual coffee morning this month. It was a lovely way to spend an hour and I am hoping once lockdown ends I will be able to meet them all in person." -  Jean, Aylsham & District u3a

u3a day

How are you celebrating your u3a on 2 June? 

The national u3a day, Wednesday 2 June, is getting closer and plans are being created.  Sue Stokes, organiser of u3a day, says, "Over 400 members attended the “Getting Ready for u3a day 2021” sessions. There is a lot of commitment across the movement for u3a day.

"u3as who are undecided about what they can safely do in the public arena, can still participate in u3a day by sharing their future plans with their community via social media and the press. Moving forward we will be taking the best of what has gone before: face-to-face activities with the added dimension of online opportunities.

"We have a lot to celebrate and offer – u3a day is the opportunity for each of us to make a contribution."

See more on u3a day on our website and join the u3a day Facebook group.

Social Media News

Photo: Debbie of Skiddaw u3a shared this on the u3a Keeping In Touch Facebook group
Today on social media, we will be sharing u3a members' reflections on a year of lockdown. Visit our social media sites to see more and respond to us with your own reflections on the last year.

To be part of the conversation join our u3a Facebook groups - u3a keeping in touch and u3a day - and follow our main accounts by clicking the buttons below.
Your Stories

"I had an email from one of my new Trust u3a Japanese group. We worked out that we lived in Japan at the same time. Her younger daughter Katie was in my daughter’s class and her older daughter Emma was in the year below my son. So, 30 years later, the mums have bumped into each other virtually - thanks to u3a."
- Gillian, convenor of Introduction to Japanese group at Trust u3a

Third Age Matters

Tunbridge Wells u3a member Dr Loretta Bellman has returned to work at the age of 71 after retiring 10 years ago from her role as a senior nurse at University College London Hospital to take up a front-line role in vaccinating the nation against Covid-19.

Read her story in the Spring issue of TAM, out on 15 April.

Beacon News

An Introduction to Beacon

The Beacon Team has prepared a short video introduction to Beacon. The video gives you an overview of the benefits of using Beacon: watch the video on Beacon's website.
A sparrowhawk seen by Huntingdon u3a member Bob on one of his walks.

Subject Advice News

New Subject Adviser for Portugese

Steyning & District u3a member Geoff Phoenix is the new Subject Adviser for Portuguese and Portugal.
He has been running a Portuguese language group for over ten years and believes that studying a language is enhanced by learning about the culture and history of the country, not to mention the food, so he organises a sardine barbecue every year. See more on Geoff's Subject Advice page.

See all subject adviser updates on the subject advice page.
The Research Committee has been approached about two studies that they have approved to be circulated to u3a members.
  • A research project investigating the impact of loneliness on a number of different populations over the pandemic. Take the survey.
  • A study investigating the impact of tactile responsivity (over or under sensitivity to touch) in individuals with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder.  They are asking adults with and without a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder to complete this questionnaire.
Diana, a member of Mawdesley and Neighbouring Villages u3a, took these photos on a walk at Yarrow Valley Country Park.

Volunteer News

Next Trust Volunteer Induction on 14 April, 2pm

This event aims to provide an Induction for new Trust Volunteers and a refresher for existing Trust Volunteers. Register here.

Zoom Tutorials

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have had over 6,000 participants in our Zoom tutorials. These are continuing weekly, with 'Zoom for hosting meetings for group leaders' and 'Introduction to Zoom.'  Register here.  We also have a video on our YouTube Channel on how to use the technology to run AGMs and large meetings.
We would like to thank Brian, Anne, Norma, Gary and John for all their hard work in putting the meetings together. 
Your Stories

"I have been a member of two writing groups at York u3a for some time and have enjoyed meeting and  sharing other members’ writing contributions.  

Lockdown gave me the time to think about how life was different in the 1950s and I wrote it all down. This became a book called “Manchester girl: growing up in 1950s Manchester"  which I published on Amazon. The response has been tremendous.  A very agreeable and unintended spinoff is how people have used my book to cheer up their older relatives and stimulate their memories."  

- Barbara, York u3a

Community Connections

Run for the World

Run the World is an organisation in which you can join virtual events to run and walk at your own pace.  They have monthly events and 'Open' events that you can compete in your own time - simply create a profile on their website then join the events you like the look of. u3a members can get 10% off their first event by using the code “U3A10”.

Tonic Housing

We're proud to support Tonic Housing, who have recently announced that they are close to opening the UK’s first LGBT+ affirming retirement community.
Tonic Housing will become the UK’s first provider of LGBT+ affirmative older persons' housing. Read more about the project on their website.
u3a were contacted by Mastermind who are looking for participants in the next series. To take part, email and let us know if you do feature.
Eila of Dunstable u3a shared this lovely sunset photo on the u3a Keeping In Touch Facebook group.

Celebrations and Thank You

Well Done Margaret!

Congratulations to Margaret, Croydon u3a member, for winning the Wenlock Olympian Society's first flash writing competition. Read the full story on our website. 

Thank You

Once again, we have been contacted by u3a members who want to say thank you to their amazing members who have helped over the last few months.

A member of Glasgow West End u3a wanted to thank ‘Zoom Wizard’ Peter who, since their u3a decided to hold meetings on Zoom, "was there to assist, encourage and to make possible.” 

Cherie got in touch to say thank you to Judith who runs the Singing group at Northampton u3a. She says, “Every day since lockdown she has sent us all something to make us smile.

u3a Wooler member Kelvin writes "Huge thanks to members Susan and Helen who, since April 2020, edited and produced a special informative and fun e-newsletter to keep all of us in touch with each other during the current situation. Also, thanks to those members who hand-delivered printed copies to our 'unconnected' friends."

In Focus

Beryl, member of four u3as 

How did I come to join my first u3a? I know it was Moseley and Kings Heath u3a about 5 years ago, but what started it off?  
Was it the Spanish Conversation group? The Scrabble group? Or the Photography group?  Hmm, actually I think my first encounter was when someone had told me about a monthly meeting that was coming up, now, which talk was that...? 

When Kings Norton & District u3a started up within walking distance of my house, it seemed only natural to join that too. That meant two monthly meetings and lots more groups I could join. I then spent most of Winter 2019 in Spain and joined the Spanish u3a in the next town. 

In the last year, Covid restrictions have been massively lightened for me by regular online Bridge sessions with u3a friends and by online u3a Quizzical events and talks, also by the u3a Walking group. Meanwhile, I’ve moved from the West Midlands to the Isle of Wight. Surprise, surprise, I’ve now joined the IOW u3a! 

Covid hasn’t brought us many benefits but one great thing is – now that lots of activities are online – I can enjoy my membership of all four u3as.
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