The onset of Covid-19 has created many difficulties for u3a members’ interest groups. Many groups are unable to meet for various reasons: Government restrictions, concern amongst group members and lack of suitable venues to name but a few.
The Committee is there to help you in these difficult times and would like to do everything that we can to enable groups to restart meeting or to continue so to do.
We have therefore prepared this guidance which will, we hope, assist you. This is based largely on a summary of the fuller guidance published by the National Office of the u3a.
Restarting group meetings
It is essential that current Government legislation and guidelines are adhered to and considered.
1. Completing a risk assessment
A risk assessment sounds daunting, but it need not be so. It is simply a process to:
- Identify hazards.
- Decide who may be harmed by the hazard.
- Establishing measures to eliminate the hazard or reduce it to an acceptable level.
- Record your findings.
Group activities, venues and individual circumstances are different and only the group leader can assess what is appropriate.
2. Personal self-assessment
Group members are encouraged to assess their own health and that of those they live with before attending a group meeting. This form: members’ pre-attendance checklist will help them to do this. The information is personal to the group member and does not need to be shared with or returned to the group leader.
3. Assessing venues and premises
Group leaders should ensure that any premises used for meetings are Covid secure. Ideally, the premises will have a Covid risk assessment of their own which can be used when preparing the group’s risk assessment. It may well be that it is necessary for the group leader to visit the premises and talk to the manager of the premises to help complete the information.
If you do not currently have a venue for your group, to assist you we have made a list of possible venues. This list is not exhaustive and, if group leaders are aware of a suitable venue that is not on the list, please let Gareth Balle, groups co-ordinator, know and we will add it. The list is here: current group venues.
If group members are vulnerable, or concerned about meeting face to face, a virtual meeting on Zoom or similar may be a better solution. We appreciate that this is not a way forward for some groups, but there are a number who have kept their groups active in this way.
4. Hiring premises or venue
If hiring premises group leaders are expected to manage the administration, the collection of hall rental fees and any additional costs, for example refreshments or materials. Generally, the collection of money will fall into one of these categories:
- Where there are set fees (hall hire, tutor fee) group leaders are urged to ask for payment up front. Costs are calculated on the basis of number of members (ie, costs divided by number of attendees). If the members’ fees exceed the costs, then monies can go towards the following term’s costs and should be handed over to the Treasurer.
- Where the costs are merely ad hoc (ie, coffee or materials) then members pay as they go: £2 per member per meeting seems to be the going rate.
5. Administration of membership and costs
- Group leaders should keep a register of members with details of their current email addresses and telephone numbers. They should also advise the Membership Secretary of the group membership and any changes in circumstances of their members.
- A ledger of the costs and monies levied should be sent to the Treasurer, Ianthe Cox, as she generally pays for the hire of venues and tutors, etc, from the trust accounts.
Below you will find a short summary of actions required for group meetings while we are subject to Covid restrictions:
Summary guidance for group leaders organising group activities
- Ensure that your meeting follows current Government guidelines. Any local lockdown restrictions must also be observed.
- Get group members to carry out their Personal Checklist.
- Inform the Groups Co-Ordinator that the group is restarting meetings, when and where.
- Assess whether your meeting will be held in person or virtually by Zoom or similar.
- If you are hiring a venue for your meeting, you will need to carry out and record a risk assessment.
- If you are carrying out a sporting activity, consult the guidelines of the national governing body of your sport to check that the numbers who are attending the activity fall within the guidelines for that sport.
- Other activity meetings are currently governed by the Rule of Six.
- Group leaders must ask each member to complete details of registration for the session for track and trace, which must be kept by the group leader/convenor for 21 days.
There is a chart below showing the restrictions that apply in the various Covid tiers. This shows what is and what is not possible in each tier in a clear way.
This list is not exhaustive, but is intended to give you pointers as to the actions that are required in these difficult times.
We hope these guidelines will help you and your members start or restart group meetings as and when you are ready.
If you need any further information the Groups Co-ordinator Gareth Balle will be happy to help you. He can be reached at email@example.com.