Farnham’s retirees locked down but not locked out

Boomers become Zoomers

Farnham U3A ordinarily meet at the Maltings and we look forward to welcoming them back when it is safe to do so. Read on to find out how the group have adapted during the pandemic…

Down but not out is how the Farnham U3A responded to lockdown on 23rd March. The group which offers retirees access to lifelong learning and other shared interest groups – quickly moved from physical meetings at the Maltings, to going online.

While the majority of the 1400-strong membership base had never heard of Zoom before lockdown, it quickly became the channel of choice for keeping connected. A recent survey of Farnham U3A’s 100 plus special interest groups found that as many as 48% were continuing to operate during lockdown using technology, with Zoom the leading medium.

Farnham U3A Chair Mike Love commented: “While the vast majority of our members have reasonable IT skills and may have already used Skype and FaceTime with family, things moved on pretty quickly in lockdown. Quick phone calls to children and grandchildren helped upskill us! As households were increasingly connecting with their families via Zoom, it was a natural choice for many of our group leaders. Zoom has proved effective for conducting meetings for subjects as diverse as Play Reading, Song Writing, World History, language conversation and even wine appreciation. YouTube became a viable option for the Pilates tutor who emailed a new link each week. Members of the photography group now share their work through a new Facebook page, and the Psychology group uses a new group email,” Mr Love added.

Farnham U3A committee now meets monthly on Zoom, also used to collaborate with the U3A Surrey Network. Now they are preparing for an AGM with a difference. Mr Love concluded: “We’ve had excellent feedback on what we are doing and how we are doing it, both from neighbouring U3As as well as from our members. Individually and as an organisation we will emerge from this stronger and better skilled.”

Acknowledging that The Maltings staff are working hard to interpret and implement ‘Covid Secure’ guidelines, Mike Love, Chairman Farnham U3A says “We hope to be able to accommodate a return to physical meetings between September and Christmas for some smaller groups in the larger rooms at the Maltings.”

www.farnhamu3a.org.uk

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