Group Leaders Guidelines
The u3a group leaders are the life blood of the organisation, without you we wouldn’t exist. We appreciate the time and energy you give to your groups and thank you for your contributions.
These guidelines are based on the guidelines for group leaders produced by the Third Age Trust (TAT). We have highlighted here the most important things for you to know as group leaders and also some locally relevant guidelines specific to Settle District u3a.
We hope these guidelines give you everything you need to know about setting up and running your group – but please never feel alone in doing this – if you need any additional help or guidance please speak with the Group Co-ordinator, Jeanne Hine, who will be happy to support you. You will be offered a 1-1 induction session with the Group Coordinator, this is especially useful if you are a new group leader and new to u3a. You may, however, choose to refer to your present group leader if you are taking over as leader from a well established group or a mixture of both. Jeanne is a useful resource along the way and always at the end of a phone.
TAT Group Leader Handbook and guidelines
The Group Leader Handbook is produced by TAT and can be found on their website using the link here: https://www.u3a.org.uk/
You will need to log in or create an account. Once you have done that, select ‘Support for u3as’, then select ‘Interest groups’ from the right hand menu to access the handbook.
The handbook covers the key responsibilities of group leaders and also gives a great deal of information and advice about setting up and running groups.
The u3a has subject specialists who can provide help and assistance to you in organising your programme (contact the u3a Resource Centre on 020 8315 0199 or email firstname.lastname@example.org) and see the u3a Sources, an educational journal which is included in the direct mailing of Third Age Matters. Additional information and guidance can be found by typing ‘Subject advice’ into the search box. Scroll down the list until you find ‘Subject advice’ and click on that. The list of groups is extensive; from Amateur radio to Yoga. All the information you need is behind your member login.
Policies specifically adapted for Settle District u3a are on our own website and can be found by selecting ‘Membership’ and under this menu selecting ‘Policies’.
Key Guidelines Group Leaders need to follow are highlighted here:
Group Accommodation and room hire
It is your role to contact and book a venue for your group. You will be sent the latest Room Hire document when you start as a group leader and at least once a year after that. This document is a list of all local venues with facilities, dimensions and room hire rates. The venues invoice our treasurer direct, so you never have to pay for the room yourself. As accommodation is our biggest expense it is obviously important to take the cost of room hire into consideration, however, it is also very important that the venue is right for you and for the activity group you are running. So if you feel you need a bigger/different venue for your group please discuss this with the Group Co-ordinator. There will never be any pressure to downsize unnecessarily. Economy should not inhibit the effectiveness of group activities.
Remember to accommodate the access needs of your group members for classes and outings. If you have any safety concerns about a venue do not continue a class unless these concerns can be resolved to your satisfaction.
This is a new initiative in 2023 and is aimed at facilitating the smooth running of your group, please discuss the necessary purchases with the group coordinator beforehand and if agreed please raise the invoice to the Treasurer.
It is important to make group members aware that they are advised to have their own personal insurance to cover them for all outdoor activities such as visits, outings and the walking groups and all participants take part at their own risk.
It is advisable for all u3a members taking part in outdoor activities to give a copy of any medical conditions and details of an emergency contact to the group leader.
Risk assessments, Insurance Cover and Accidents
You should consider whether a risk assessment is needed. There are templates for this on our website here: Risk Assessment Templates
There are also several new risk assessment templates for u3a members to use – including holiday travel risk assessments and outdoor sporting risk assessments. This is available on the Support for u3as section of the TAT website (behind your member log in) under Risk Assessments. If you are not sure about whether a risk assessment is needed or how to draw one up please ask the Group Coordinator or one of the other committee members who will be happy to help you.
If your group involves physical activity make sure that members know that they are doing this at their own risk (and that they are advised to have their own personal insurance to cover them). This is in our current guidelines – under Outdoor Activities.
All members of the u3a are covered by the u3a’s public liability insurance, but they are not covered for personal accident insurance. You will need to ensure that people attending your u3a group are enrolled paid up members of a u3a in WestNet (Bradford, Harrogate, Ilkley or Settle District)
If a group member has an accident or near accident or there is damage to a group member’s property then full details should be taken down and passed on to the Group Co-ordinator or Committee Secretary. They will then complete an accident report form and make a decision about whether any follow-up action is needed.
There is no legal requirement for a first aider to be present at u3a group meetings but it’s always worth knowing if any of your group members are qualified first aiders or retired health care professionals. Here is a link to some First aid advice in the Group Leaders and Committee members tab http://granvillehouse.synology.me/wordpress/first-aid
We are all learning to live with this. The u3a guidelines follow the current government guidelines and can be found here: https://www.u3a.org.uk/ by typing covid into the search box.
Ensure that group members have enough information to make an informed choice about what is involved in participating in your group; you may wish to discuss the programme with them and invite them to make contributions.
The frequency of meetings is upto you; for example, weekly, twice a month, or monthly all work well.
As a group leader you are responsible for the running of your group and for resolving any difficulties that may arise. However, the Group Co-ordinator is there to provide advice and support if you need to talk anything through and it’s quite often useful to have a deputy if possible; somebody to look after the group should you be away or unwell.
Advertising your group
You will be offered a Beacon page and a website page. Keith Waterson is the Beacon administrator and he will give you guidance on how to edit your Beacon page. Keith’s contact details are email@example.com. The website page will allow you to post photos in addition to other details such as group description, venue and time. Richard Hine is the Webmaster and he will give you 1-1 intruction on how to edit your page or create events. Richard’s contact details are firstname.lastname@example.org.
Using the u3a logo and recommended fonts
If you are providing written material and wish to use the u3a logo please contact the Group Coordinator, Secretary or Publicity Officer. Alternatively, all forms of the logo are available from the TAT brand centre. Incidentally the Brand Centre also has downloadable PowerPoint templates and recommends DM sans as the u3a preferred font. Fonts and Powerpoint
Most u3a members sign up for groups at the August sign-up event. Members can join a group using the Beacon system if there is space in that group.
Alternatively people wishing to join a group throughout the year could contact the Group Co-ordinator who will check with you that you have space and then pass on their details to you.
It is up to you to set a limit on the number of group members to ensure that running the group is practical. If the maximum membership for your group is reached then a waiting list will be kept on Beacon. Alternatively there may be the option of setting up a second group.
We operate a ‘try before you buy’ of 2 sessions for non u3a members, the group attendance donation should be collected. You should then make sure that people join the u3a after these 2 sessions or inform the membership secretary.
You should keep a record of attendance including any visitors, at each group meeting for insurance and fire purposes.
You may want to nominate someone to be an assistant leader to help you run the group, collect group fees and cover for you if you are away on holiday or ill etc. An assistant leader can also help with succession planning when a current leader wishes to retire.
Contacting Group Members
The Beacon system is the best, most inclusive way of contacting all group members and is the preferred system to ensure that you can have regular contact with your group and inform them of any change of plans or illness. All group leaders will have guidance on how to use Beacon for this. The group coordinator and Beacon administrator offer continued support. Keith Waterson is the Beacon administrator, his contact details are email@example.com
If you use emails outside the Beacon system remember to use the Blind Copy or BCC option to ensure confidentiality. More guidance on this can be found on our own website: Data protection
Collecting the group attendance donations:
Leaders should collect members meeting donations and put them into an envelope or money pouch including details of the group and the date. This should then be delivered to Alison Tyas, Barbara Herring, Les Chandler, or the safe at Victoria Hall. Their addresses and details of the location of the safe at Victoria Hall are available from the Group coordinator. This group attendance donation does not have to cover the cost of the room hire.
Consult the treasurer if you handle money on behalf of the group for any other purpose, eg for outings and visits. Never put u3a money through your personal account. Always get receipts for any money handed over.
There are important guidelines covering photocopying multiple copies of articles, music, maps etc and for printing off the internet. Settle District u3a has purchased a license for this. UK copyright law allows you to copy “an insubstantial amount for personal use, private study or non-commercial research” but the law does not define insubstantial. Please consult the committee if you have any problems in this area.
Social Media Guidelines
It can be good to share information about your group and we’re always looking for great photos and stories for our website and our newsletter. Increasingly many of us are also sharing on social media and this can be a great way to promote the fantastic activities on offer. But do remember if you are posting anything on social media to make sure that people in any photos/stories have agreed for them to be used. If in doubt about anything refer to Settle District u3a data protection guidelines or talk to a committee member.
Car parking and car sharing
Settle District u3a have an informal arrangement with the Rugby Club when car sharing takes place and some vehicles are left behind. Members need a car parking permit and these are available from the Secretary on firstname.lastname@example.org Cars must be parked on the right. It would be helpful to remind members that the arrangement with the Rugby Club covers only u3a activities. The car park cannot be used at other times. If we abuse the arrangement with the Rugby Club they’ll stop us parking there.
Car sharing is now permitted for u3a activities. Car sharing passengers should contribute towards travel costs. The advisory rate for travel costs is now £2 per hour for the total journey time, there and back, pro rata’d for part hours.
We hope that you find this information helpful in your role – but if you’re not sure of anything – or if you feel we need to include additional guidance to group leaders please let us know. You can contact the Group Co-ordinator, Jeanne Hine, or any other member of the committee.
Thank you again for your time and contribution to Settle District u3a and all its members.