Our Virtual u3a During Lockdown

By | October 25, 2020

During the times of Lockdown and Social Isolation over the past couple of years, a good  number of our Groups (and Organisers of other events and individual members) were very innovative in carrying on remotely! See below for the examples that the Web Team heard about. 

You will note that a good number of meetings and events started to use Zoom to keep going.  And some still do at times. If you need help with this videoconferencing platform, either as a u3a Group Leader, Meeting Organiser  or Participant, check out the Post called Zoom Support.

Remote Group Activities

  • Book Reading 1 – Monday and Book Reading 2 – Tuesday are carrying on now using our new licensed u3a Zoom Sessions.
  • Bridge Group is doing an excellent job of keeping going virtually! See Bridge Group during the Lockdown.
  • Computer Advice –  remote support is readily available by email using elearning@aughton-ormskirk-u3a.co.uk and by phone to any of the Computer Helpers whose phone numbers have been made available to members in past enews.
  • Church History have been keeping their Group members well-informed and educated remotely.  Using Beacon email, they have sent out stunning photos and information on relevant topics to their members. Additionally, the 3 Peters are exploring the idea of a a Zoom presentation should a new licence be purchased suitable for a wider audience.  Peter H thinks the early series could be repeated successfully. Wonderful photos and interestin notes on the past series can be found in the Church History Group Posts that follow on from the main Group Page.
  • Creative Writing – From early on in Lockdown, were very creatively in keeping in touch and developing stories and poems using technologies such as WhatsApp eg see Creative Writing Group During Lockdown.  They also ran a Short Story Competion open to all members. October update – “the Short Story Comp is finished now and we are meeting monthly on the u3a Zoom channel for a two hour session, especially to read the short stories we have written on the month’s topic (it’s ‘Ghost Story’ for the November meeting), comment on them and discuss writing in general”.
  • Country Dancing wrote in the enews, early on in the first lockdown –  “We’ve set up a WhatsApp group to keep in touch & cheer us up.” Since then, they have set up the opportunity for members to join in with Country Dancing via Zoom! See past issues of enews item and the Group Page and Posts for contact details and further info if you’d like to join in. What a great ideas this Group has to keep us all on our toes!
  • Digital Photography – still running its popular Photo Competition. Get snapping!
  • The Drama Group report – Not long after lockdown in March 2020 the Drama Group started holding play reading sessions on Zoom every Wednesday & Friday.  This has been done with great success and the Members of the group have had plenty of fun and laughter, which has helped during these difficult times. John & Megan Tomlinson, leaders of the Drama group, now also host Zoom play reading for any members not in the Drama group for a couple of hours one night a week. You don’t have to be an actor, just the ability to read and join in the fun is enough. All the scripts are projected onto your computer screen – what could be easier! We need both men and women (as you know most plays contain some of each) so anyone who is interested please contact John or Megan.
  • Earth / Geology Group is currently suspended locally. But the National u3a is putting on free Geology talks that members can attend via Zoom. Full details and booking are available on the online events page of the National u3a website.
  • Folklore & Mythology resumed meetings in November 2020 via Zoom
  • French Conversation is conducting Zoom meetings. (There is very helpful How To guidance on Zoom – for phones, tablets and desktops – on the Third Age Trust (TAT) website.)
  • Gardening Group  have been emailing their members out most informative newsletters  via Beacon emails including quizzes, jobs in the garden and hints on where to order garden-related supplies. They also have a  Gardening Group Gallery on the website.
  • German Conversation are keeping in touch eg by email.  Homework is made available by the Group Leader. And members seek out and send items to cheer up the others in the class.  Good idea!
  • Some members are managing to fit in a weekly round of Golf.
  • Italian – several classes are meeting and being tought by the Tutor on Zoom. You can see when they run on the calendar of u3a Zoom Sessions.
  • Keyboard Music Group have a 1 hour session booked for every Monday on our Zoom Session Calendar.
  • Latin gamely kept going remotely for a while under lockdown but is currently taking a break.
  • Musical Theatre is using u3a Zoom every week.  See  the Calendar for our new licensed u3a Zoom Sessions.
  • Philosophy – The Leader, Tim Miles, has set up an outlook email group to which group members, or others, can be added at their request. He has also had email exchanges re philosophy with group members.
  • Pilates in the Scout & Guide HQ has not been running since the start of the first lockdown in March 2020.  Recently, the usual u3a Pilates Tutor in normal times, Laura, has written to one of the Coordinators, Lorna, about her Zoom classes  available remotely.  Note that these are not run under the auspices of u3a, but may be a way of members keeping fit until u3a classes return. See Pilates via Zoom for details.
  • The Poetry  Leader reports that the group is “on Zoom at the minute. People can phone or email if they want to join in.”
  • In late July 2020, Recorder Group managed to play again …….  ‘in the Aughton Village Hall garden where we had lots of space (and two spectators).  It started out sunny and still, then a little breeze got up and finally the clouds began to roll in again.  But we got about 90 minutes in which was wonderful.”  October update – ‘The onset of autumn drove us back inside for two good playing sessions but the latest rules don’t allow us to do this any more so we are taking a break for a few months until we can resume indoor practices.’
  • Science Group Leaders, Jack and Alan set up a  special new remote Group 2020 – Science during Lockdown.  It features a Daily Science Snippet, Science Jokes and Cartoons, Illusions, online Science Quizzes that any member can try out and links to Coronavirus articles.  If your Group would like to know how to produce a Quiz, contact the Web Team via the email address below.
  • Shakespeare Revisited This group is currently running  Zoom sessions on Tuesday’s – they are just starting with Macbeth. If you would like more information – please contact the leader Eila Wall.
  • Snooker cannot turn up to play but they do get together remotely to take part in quizzes.
  • Spanish Conversation – Leader, Bob Sheehan is sending articles in Spanish by email to the group on a regular basis to translate at leisure during lockdown.
  • Tai Chi – have an active Whatsapp group constantly in touch with suggestions and occasionally video exercises from some of the members. All u3a classes are suspended until further notice. (In the meantime, non-u3a options may be available – check with Heather, the Tutor.)
  • Ukulele -The ‘UKULEERS’ will still be keeping in touch with each other with items about the ukulele, including self help videos.  What a good time to learn to play the ukulele!  See the Post named Play Ukulele!  if you would like to start learning to play this instrument. . Contact Leader, Tony Crimlisk, for more information. Recent November update from Tony Crimlisk:
    “I’ve sent posts to the group regularly with bits of information on ukulele, chords, and music in general etc, plus links to Youtube tutorials. I’ve also put a number of tutorials on YouTube myself mostly with demos of songs from my BEGINNERS GUIDE TO HARMONY MELODY ON THE UKULELE and UKULELE CHRISTMAS (book of Xmas carols for solo ukulele). The offer to help individuals via FaceTime or Zoom still stands.
  • At least one of the Walking Groups has been considering during lockdown how future socially distanced Walks might be organised when restrictions have eased. So let’s hope Walking Groups can get back in action in some form when social distancing regulations are relaxed.  In the meantime, keep going out on a daily walk if you possibly can,

Keep an eye on this list for  more groups being added.  Note that there can be practical limitations in numbers for some Groups and so they may understandably be deemed ‘full’. Or a topic may not be available yet.  If  either is so, why not consider setting up a new remote Group for your special interest. Help is available to do this. 

Other Lockdown Ideas

Various members have helpfully suggested some other ideas for keeping busy:

An item appeared in a past enews saying “Keeping fit while isolating is extremely important.   There is no reason not to keep fit so have a look at these NHS videos”.

The Speaker Meeting organiser suggests having “a look at the TED talks website, which is packed with talks on all kinds of subjects”.

There was mention by members of a local (non-u3a) Keep Fit and Zumba classes being run using Zoom. Perhaps some of our classes could carry on in this way?

Check out the Website’s  Culture at Home Post for those missing their theatre and musical outings and meetings.

Remote help was been offered by a member on one of her interests – Geneaology.  See  past enews, sent out to members only, for more info on this kind offer and contact details.

A thoughtful member suggested that we could take a few minutes to Phone a u3a Friend who we have not seen since lockdown close of meetings.  Or email, text, Whatsapp, Zoom them or use whatever communication method you and they prefer.

Contacts during Lockdown (all still relevant)

So if your Group has found a way to carry on regardless or you have ideas that you have personally found helpful during lockdown and social isolation,  then please email the Web Team and we’ll add it to this page. You may inspire others to have-a-go too.  If you struggle with ideas or expertise in the appropriate technologies, again contact us.  Together, we can get creative, learn and share skills,  and at the same time help members feel more connected and less isolated.

email: webteam@aughton-ormskirk-u3a.co.uk

Remember too the monthly enews. The enews editor advises trying to keep the enews items brief.  If it is too long, send it in to the Web Team instead for publishing on the Website.  The Web Team will then provide the enews Editor with a link to be included in your shortened enews item. If you’d like an item to appear in it about your remote activities, send to the enews Editor at:

email: enews@aughton-ormskirk-u3a.co.uk

Computer Advice stayed up-and-running remotely during the socially restricted times for help with IT issues:

email: elearning@aughton-ormskirk-u3a.co.uk

If you would like to know more about some of the communication tools mentioned here and elsewhere, including the increasingly popular Zoom (for which we have a u3a licence), then there is very helpful How To guidance and online Tutorials on the National Third Age Trust website.

Speaker Meeting Come-back!

The first Pandemic Speaker Meeting took place via Zoom  on 4th February 2021 when Julia Clayton  provided us with a fascinating talk on the topic of What did the Spartans do for us?  Details of this and others can be viewed on Pam Ball’s Speaker Meeting webpage.

Last Updated on March 9, 2022