U3A THAMES VALLEY NETWORK

Representatives’ meeting held at the Sports Hall, Watlington, courtesy of Ridgeway U3A,

on Friday 25th November 2011

Present: Pam Jones – Chairman (Witney), Agnes Budagowska (Swindon), Mike Price (Greater Thame), Len Smith (Wokingham), Martin McBride (Carterton),  Ann Mary Ware (Marlow), Anne Marie Lord (Chinnor & District), Susie Berry (Ridgeway), Anne Gould (Abingdon), Geoff Young and Shirley Stokes (Aylesbury Vale), Christine Cox (Bicester), Pam Palmer (Bracknell Forest), Allan Ferrier (Chiltern), George Hunter and Diane Carver (Chinnor & District), David Vincent (Goring Gap), Frank Metcalf (Greater Thame), Alan Rose (Haddenham), Ruth Waddle (Headington), Barbel Cheesewright and Nadia Ellis (High Wycombe), Jenny Cooper and Vilma Orso (Maidenhead), Avis Furness (Reading), Jacky Wagstaff, Pat Fewell, Angela Jacob (Ridgeway), Jeanie Dickie (Swindon), Neil Kelly (Thameside Wallingford), Margaret Sherrington (West Oxford), Joan Jones and Valerie Palmer (Witney), Colin Mitchell (Wokingham), Clare McKinley (Woodstock).

 

1.0                   Apologies: Ian Clarkson and Kath Wallis (Faringdon), Lesley Holmes (Henley), Joan Airey (Oxford), Jenny Sakamoto (Banbury), Rita Fidler, Derek Randall (Thame & District), Patsy Thornton (Wokingham) Pam Feltbower (Greater Thame), John Brandis (Haddenham), Pauline Nuttall (Abingdon), Anthony Fulford (Bracknell Forest), Margaret Edmondson (Wallingford).

 

2.0                   Minutes of 31/08/11

The Minutes of 31/08/11 were approved and signed.

2.1 Matters Arising There were no matters arising that would not be addressed elsewhere.

2.2 Any other matters arising A query was put forward regarding bookings for the Opera Day. There was a waiting  list from August and a further room was booked for lunch. Booking procedures have recently been amended.

 

3.0 Network Committee Reports

3.1  Chairman (summary) Pam welcomed all representatives especially Allan Ferrier from Chiltern U3A, at present unaffiliated. Affiliation fees were not collected in 2011-2012 as a surplus had accrued, a decision will be made for 2012-13 before fees are due in April.

       Since the last meeting Pam has become the Trustee for the South East Region but is remaining as Chairman of the Network. She expressed her thanks to the Committee who have taken over many of her duties in order that she can pursue the Trustee commitments.

       Referring to the very successful “Riverside Revealed” 3 day school at Wellington College Pam expressed her thanks to Patsy Thornton, Agnes Budagowska, Susie Berry and Len Smith plus all who had been involved in the event and in the Riverside Project.

       Further events will feature later but Pam asked for members to contact her if they could offer to help in a Training Day for Group Co-ordinators perhaps offering another area for training.

       Pam was keen to encourage local U3As to join together on occasions, she gave the example of Carterton which has suggested running a quiz between local U3As. This can also be applied to running the Conference. There being no offers to run the 2013 Conference Pam suggested that we need to think of something else to take its place. She recommended the 2012 Conference in Abingdon on 16th June and asked that all U3As encourage as many people as possible to attend.

       2012 will be a busy year with the Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee but it is also the 30th anniversary of the start of the U3A in this country and we are encouraged to celebrate this, too.

       Pam reminded the meeting that it is our responsibility to make U3A membership available to all wherever possible and that waiting lists in effect deny this. We need to identify anywhere where the setting up of a U3A would be suitable. This had been prompted by a phone call from the Chairman of Didcot U3A who will be meeting Pam in the New Year to discuss having a more proactive presence in the town.

       Representatives were asked to ensure they had signed in and given e-mail, address or telephone details.

       Susie Berry was also thanked for providing hospitality again.

 

3.1i Comments – The issue of waiting lists was picked up, it was suggested that associate membership (usually   associates do not attend monthly meetings where hall capacity is limited) can help. It was also pointed out that there is often a tipping point where members are more interested in the Interest Groups and the monthly meeting   itself almost becomes a group. Swindon and Wokingham each have over 1000 members, they do not have waiting lists but hold new members’ meetings periodically.

       Pam said that she was hoping to arrange a meeting between the large U3As in the Region to discuss the problems and benefits of a large U3A. It was suggested that a few small U3As be included to put the other view point.

       Aylesbury Vale have already started 5 other U3As but the real problem has been in finding committee members.

3.2  Treasurer’s report

       Mike Price congratulated Pam on becoming Trustee for the Region. He also thanked Agnes Budagowska for taking over as Treasurer.

       Mike Price circulated copies of the TVN Account Summary as at 04/11/2011. He explained that they were not reconciled with the current bank statement, that all events had shown either a small surplus or a small loss and that the position of funds is slightly increased. The next meeting will have a better estimate of funds but in essence there remains £4000+ in hand. This is needed to enable events to be covered particularly where deposits need to be paid to secure a venue etc. Mike congratulated the organisers of the event at Wellington College

       For clarification Mike agreed that Event income, Total event income, U3A income, Administration and Event costs were headings.

       Under U3A Income There has been no income from affiliation fees during this year and other income would be refunds from a venue. If it is agreed to restart affiliation fees these would be due in April.

       Under Administration the expense shown for meeting rental is payment made for the venue for the Representatives’ meeting. As funds are available U3As are not being charged at present.

       £9627.35 is the total of all cheques sent out.

       Mike was thanked for standing in as interim Treasurer.

 

4.0  Regional Trustee’s Report

       As the newly elected Regional Trustee Pam thanked all who had voted her into office and said that although so much was new she was finding the role enjoyable and very interesting. She described the SE Region as having two halves, one cohesive area where people work well together and the other to the west with two working Networks, a couple of smaller networks and a number of U3As who do not wish to acknowledge anyone else.

       Pam explained that most Regions have Regional Volunteers who actively encourage and support the setting up of new U3As. There is no such person in our Region and Pam asked if someone in the Network would consider it.

       The NEC Education sub-committee is looking at ways in which support for group leaders can be improved. The Development sub-committee, of which Pam is a member, is gathering handbooks from U3As in order to write a simple handbook for newly formed U3As on how to set up a group. The previous one was particularly lengthy and it has become apparent that existing U3As would welcome a new version, too.

       In response to a request from Patsy Thornton to meet representatives from other large U3As (see 3.1i) Pam is hoping to set up a meeting with representatives from 6 large U3As in the Hampshire/Surrey Network.

       Pam reported that the NEC is now aware that clarification of guidelines for applications for grants is most urgent.However, she emphasised the following: There are grants available of £100 -£500 for workshops involving groups of people from at least 5 U3As. Activities that promote the Trust and are open to the public can apply for up to £100 to cover cost of venue and expenses. Pam asked that claims are directed through her and, also, if   representatives required a copy of the criteria for grants and how to apply she could forward this on request.

       Pam encouraged U3As to contact the National office direct should they have any problems or need advice as they are very helpful. She is also very willing to be contacted.

       Pam drew attention to the fact that all U3As should have a pack from National Office containing advice sheets, details of insurances, start- up advice etc and asked that they be read as they are very informative. They would be particularly helpful for new committee members. More can be ordered.

       Through the NEC Pam expects to become involved with the Prison Reform Trust and will report on that at a later date.

       Over the next few weeks Pam will be meeting several existing networks/forums in the Region, welcoming two new U3As and attending a public meeting aimed at starting up a new U3A but today she was very pleased to be with her own Network.

4.1  Pam will circulate a message to all Network U3As requesting that any grant applications should be sent via herself as trustee for the SE Region.

       She will also forward a copy of Colin’s paper re how U3A works and suggested that the start- up packs should also be used as suggested in her report.

       The National and Network websites also contain useful information regarding U3A.

       Pam also explained that the U3A Regions are based on current Government Regions.

 

5 Development Matters

      

6 Network activities – Events Team

6.1  Ann Mary thanked Ian Clarkson, Ann Gould and Pam Palmer who have now stood down. She asked representatives to think of aspects of history in their own areas so that a study day could be set up.

6.2  Ann Mary explained the new process for taking entries for events. The entry/application forms will contain the address, phone and e-mail contact details for the person organising the event. Two closing dates will be given: the 1st for Network members only and the 2nd for non-affiliated members plus any Network members who had not previously applied if spaces are remaining.

       All applications will be checked and then acknowledged by e-mail, SAE or telephone ASAP. They will be dealt with on a first come first served basis.

6.3i The Riverside Project had been an unqualified success and was anticipated to break even financially. Thanks were due to many people for the success of the Wellington College Study Event that attracted 59 residential delegates from all over the UK, 18 – 19 day delegates and several who attended part days.

       The project has now been taken on into London and consideration is being given to a further project based on the social history of the Thames Valley and its towns and an Industrial History group will be meeting shortly.

        The Riverside Journal was sent to 280 people and still has 260 “live” contacts. It was suggested all collated material be sent out as a Network Newsletter. Ann Mary, Len, Pam and Susie will get together on this.

6.3ii     The Opera study day was very successful. The main speaker was unable to attend but the substitute found at short notice was excellent.

       An alternative venue to Rewley House may be sought for future events and Oxford Brookes was suggested but it was pointed out that parking is a nightmare and public transport will need to be used.

6.3iii The Conference at Abingdon on 16th June is titled “Interactive U3A” and will have two speakers and 5 discussion groups. (Please put the date in your diaries). The Exhibition has been cancelled due to increased expense but it was suggested that a scaled down exhibition of displays used at the Riverside project could be set up. Abingdon will e-mail those involved and the Conference registration will be brought forward to 9.30am to allow delegates time to browse. If none of this is possible the exhibition could be staged at the Network AGM.

6.4  The following programme is in place/being planned:

       9th March English Social History. Currently 72 applicants, 100-120 maximum can be accommodated.

       Training day in April planning is in progress

       September (possibly) Photography day for beginners with Peter Chapman

       19th October “Food and Science” (title may change) Susie Berry is currently negotiating with speakers.

       November- possible opera day planned by Anthony.

6.5  Details have been received regarding coach trips for the English Touring Opera. An idea of numbers interested would be appreciated, please contact Anthony Burdall or Chris ? The cost of the coach would be free but cost of tickets is not known at present. Application forms are usually sent out at least 6 months in advance.

 

7     Network Information

7.1  Contacts list This will now be held by Mike Price. Please make sure that he has an up-to-date contact name, address and e-mail address.

7.2 Speaker’s Database Martin McBride has taken this over and is in the process of up-dating the information by contacting all speakers by phone. If you have any additions/ further information please let him know. The up-  dated list will be sent out by Mike when it is ready. Martin also expressed his thanks to Mike and Pam for their support and help over the past year.

7.3 Website

       The number of hits are down and Len asked that the website address be included on any e-mails sent to the Network. He also requested that all U3As include a link to the Network website on their websites.

       He has now set up a month by month calendar.

 

8 AOB

i      Carterton U3A have agreed to produce a calendar for the Network (Martin McBride had shown their in-house calendar at a committee meeting and members had enthusiastically suggested a Network one should be considered). It was suggested that it be ready for the 2012 Conference.

ii     Pam explained that Trustees are allocated to sub-committees (see her Report) but she will also be working with the Prison Reform Trust which works to ensure that prisons are just, humane and effective. it is currently producing new educational material and wants to pilot this across all age groups. Two pilot schemes are   suggested, one in our Network and the other in the Sussex Network. this will involve a meeting with a speaker from the Trust and possibly a follow-up meeting. Pam suggested that the venue be at High Wycombe. the sessions are flexible with three main modules: Crime and Punishment, Prison and Community situations, People in Power. People with no prior connection with the prison system are included in the process, there will be an explanation and discussion which could lead to amendments etc. Pam will send out further information.

iii    Ann Mary expressed an interest in finding the best way of dealing with members of one U3A accessing activities within another U3A.

iv    Ann Mary asked if members were interested in a half day “study day” but representatives felt a whole day was best because of the travel involved.

v     Carterton U3A would like to see copies of newsletters from other U3As.

vi    It was suggested that the AGM be open to more members.

 

9 Date of next meeting …………. Friday 20th April AGM 10am for 10.30 am at the Sports Hall in Watlington