Fears that the lockdown would negatively impact the activities of the University of the Third Age(U3A) Kennet are unfounded. U3A Kennet is part of a UK wide organisation of retired and semi-retired people. During lockdown over half the members of the U3A Kennet have continued to pursue learning, social and creative interests via social media and there has been an increase in membership applications.
U3A Kennet’s Chair, David Hammond, said, “Since the lockdown U3AKennet has faced the challenge of maintaining its 800 plus membership’s various interests via its many learning groups. Hence the launch of U3A at Home. This was an initiative to explore how much of what we offer membership could be replicated from home in the current environment. The upturn in membership applications and interactions since has been frankly astounding.”
Several of the U3A groups are using Zoom. These include: American History, Art and Art History, Book Group, French Language and Literature, Italian, Spanish, Monday Walking Group.
Other groups, such as the Table Tennis Group, are exploring using group email system to share information and feedback. The Walking Groups and the Wine Appreciation Group are creating and circulating quizzes relating to their members’ interests while the Jazz Appreciation Group members are compiling ‘Desert Island Discs’ lists. The Flora and Fauna Group is sharing photos of spring flowers. Other groups are looking at sharing videos or using MOOCS (Massive Open On-Line Courses).
David Hammond explained, “Every group has an opportunity to reach out and involve members. Because social interaction is a key part of many of our groups we need to find ways of keeping it going in these difficult circumstances.
Many members balked at the idea of video conferencing. But as part of the movement’s aim is to encourage further learning in retirement, even more of our members have now learnt and adopted valuable new social media skills.”