Currently we find ourselves in a situation where human communication – at least in the physical sense – is highly restricted. Minehead & District U3A is looking at a number of solutions to assist committee, convenors, and members to stay connected. This page outlines the options currently supported and invites participation – but it does not mandate usage of any specific option. The choice is yours and will be respected.
The humble telephone should not be overlooked as the basic and probably easiest option for communication, whether land-line or smartphone. We suggest that convenors ensure that phone numbers of all of their group members are known, and that any member who is not using any of the other options listed below is called from time to time to ensure contact and well-being.
Most members (though not all) have access to email. Convenors may already have set up an email group for their members and should remember that GDPR regulations prevent sending open copies to all members (directly addressed or cc), and blind copy (bcc) should always be used unless it is a small group and all are happy, and have agreed, to share details. If it is a large group and there is a need to set up an email mailing list and some help is required, please ask.
Minehead & District U3A has an active Facebook group. This is a moderated group and private, so you need to be granted access, which is free and simple for all U3A members. The group details events, and sadly cancellations, and guides members to available activities, such as free concerts, films, museum and gallery exhibitions, etc.; and posts local news, whether road closures or news of toilet roll availability! If you are not a member, please consider joining.
This is a feature for smartphones. If not encountered before, this allows encrypted (i.e. private and cannot be spied on!) conversations – by text, by voice, and by video link [voice and video are limited to four participants]. This option is also free and is available as an app to download from the Apple AppStore, or from Google Play for Android users. It is easy to operate, and has advantages that we are keen to promote, as WhatsApp not only allows conversations between two individuals, but can be expanded to groups, and several U3A interest groups are already set up in this way. A separate document will provide some information and guidance on this.
This feature allows more sophisticated videoconferencing, and you may have seen details in the press, or on the Facebook site. This is an app which runs on all devices, is free, and allows for scheduled video meetings to be held – with a maximum length of 40 minutes (but it is easy to restart the meeting to run on, or better give 15 minutes in between for coffee and comfort). If a 40 minute limitation may cause a problem (e.g. sharing listening to a symphony or opera that extends beyond that 40 minute limit) then please contact John Batt, who has a PRO licence, eliminating those time constraints. Zoom is now being used by many interest groups, not just the Committee, and has proved its value. If you want to give a talk to members, then Zoom offers good facilities, and you can share images, PowerPoint, and even a whiteboard.