Interested in Starting a New Group?
Interest Groups are the lifeblood of all u3as. Anyone can start one at any time. You don’t have to have been a member for years either – existing and new members are warmly encouraged to start new groups, which could be a secondary group for an existing one that is full or on a brand new topic. (you can ask to go on a waiting list for a full group, but why not consider starting your own? Popular topics always attract lots of interest!)
Do I have to be an expert?
Interest Group Leaders/Co-ordinators do not need to have some knowledge in the subject they wish to run; some groups do indeed have an expert ‘leading’ the group, who freely gives of his/her time and knowledge, which is a wonderful thing! However, one of the key principles behind u3a is that members learn from each other.
The important thing is to gather enough people willing to help find out about the subject and share their findings. Thus it is perfectly possible to start a group on a subject you know nothing about but wish to find out about!
Indeed, Group Co-ordinators should not expect to shoulder all the work required to run a Group, nor deliver all the material for study. All members should be prepared to help out with roles or research, as seems fit and appropriate and agreed by founding members.
It might help to think of co-ordinators for the group rather than one ‘Leader’, with the group running on a co-operative basis. Ideally, the responsibility for coming up with plans and programmes and delivering them would be shared. New groups would discuss and decide at the beginning how they want to operate, how frequently it would meet, what its purpose is, and how to share in the running of the group. Responsibilities could, for example, be rotated from year to year. They might include:
- booking meeting rooms or sports facilities
- coming up with ideas for the year
- doing research
- looking after any finances (not onerous)
- organising an advert for new members on the website
- organising a programme of events/places
- taking it in turn to make a presentation or undertake guided tour
Groups do not even have to run ‘forever’! – it is perfectly possible for a new group to decide they will run for a year, say, then review at the end if they want to carry on or not.
Help Running a Group
There is comprehensive help in running Groups from the u3a Committee and the Study Group Coordinator. A lot of more in-depth resources are also available from u3a national office – click here
How do I start my new group?
- Write a short outline of what you are proposing and send to Groups Co-ordinator Stuart Lee, firstname.lastname@example.org who will be able to give further advice, including a list of suitable venues.
- Once the proposal is confirmed with Stuart, send the following to Jennifer Baker, Website Editor, at email@example.com
i) Details of your new group for the website, whereby a dedicated page for your group will be created. Please include the proposed date and time to meet and the venue. You might find it helpful to see how other groups have listed their details by visiting any of the existing groups’ listings Interest Groups | u3a Bury St Edmunds
ii) Also send to Jennifer an outline for an ‘advert’ for the monthly newsletter
- The proposed group will then be also advertised on our New Groups page, together with your contact details for members to contact you directly. You would then see what interest there is, and organise a meeting to take it forward.