First, thank you for accepting responsibility for increasing awareness of diversity and inclusion in your u3a. We have received requests for guidelines related to these responsibilities, and many of the suggestions below have been provided by u3as as examples of their own activities:
- Find out whether your u3a has an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy. If it has not, there is a model policy on the national u3a website which can be adopted by your u3a. (go to the Support for u3as area, select Advice, then Policy documents)
- Establish what your committee considers to be covered by the term ‘Diversity’. Does it include physical conditions (sight, hearing, mobility, etc.), gender and sexuality issues, ethnicity? Become familiar with the protected characteristics listed in the Equality Act 2010 (also set out in the u3a model policy document) or its equivalent in Northern Ireland.
- Look at the new Diversity and Inclusion guidelines on the national u3a website (go to the Support for u3as area, then select Diversity and Inclusion). These cover physical conditions and dementia, neurologically atypical conditions, and gender and sexuality and race and ethnicity issues, and include several helpful links.
- In view of the current increasing use of technology in u3a, remember the less confident or less experienced members of your u3a and create technology support systems.
- The Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee has created an Attitudes and Bias Awareness presentation which can be booked by u3as, Networks and other groupings. Please ask the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee about this if you wish us to bring it to you virtually.
- Find your Regional website and get to know your Regional Trustee, and make contact with your local Network. Their meetings provide valuable opportunities to meet others doing what you are doing and to share solutions.
- Think about the language used by your u3a. For example, be aware of the current terms used for physical conditions and people of colour, and consider adopting gender-neutral vocabulary.
- Look at the racial and cultural diversity in the area covered by your u3a. Is your u3a representative of its community? Are there groups you could approach as part of your outreach initiatives?
- Look at the range of interest groups offered by your u3a. Might it be possible to introduce other subjects of wider interest? Might it also be possible to include aspects of other cultures in relation to the areas already studied, for example, books by people from ethnic minority backgrounds?
- When considering the range of interest groups, think also about their appeal to the newly, possibly younger, retired.
- Invite representatives from a range of cultures to speak at Monthly Meetings.
If you have other suggestions, or if you want to discuss any of these issues further, please ask to speak to a member of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee.