U3A members are being asked to help craft a shared learning project where they create living history of this extraordinary time.

We are currently living through an unprecedented period due to the coronavirus and everyone’s daily lives are affected. The situation is impacting on people in lots of different ways and you will all have your own experiences, thoughts and reflections on how it is affecting you, both on a practical and on a psychological level. We would really like to capture all of this as part of a UK wide Diary Project.

What sort of information are we looking for?

Please date and sign off each diary entry (you can use a pseudonym if you wish to remain anonymous) and you may also like to consider the following to give some context to your thought for other people.
  • Do you live in a town or village. Is this an urban or rural location? Are there usually lots of people about?
  • What’s your household like? Do you live alone or with a partner or other family? Have you got people who are still working living with you?
  • How are you managing your days? What activities are you doing? Are you trying to stick to a routine?
  • What did you enjoy? What good things happened?
  • Was there anything you did which you wouldn’t normally have had the time to do?
  • What was difficult? How did you manage this?
  • How did you feel and what impacted on this?
  • Who did you speak to or see and how?
  • What do you think was the most important bit of the day (whether this was something you heard on the news, or a contact you made or an activity you discovered?)

You can read more on the diary project in our Learning blog – Sources Online – outlining the types of things you may want to consider when writing down your thoughts.

How will the diary entries be used?

U3A is proud to be partnering with the Mass Observations Archive (MOA) to ensure we are making the most of each valuable contribution. The MOA will store each diary entry and make it available publicly for researchers and future historians looking to learn and write about these times using real life accounts. You may be aware of the MOA from the social research they conducted from 1937 – 1950, capturing the thoughts and opinions of those who lived during WW2, so it is very special that U3A members will get to add their words to such an important database.
As well, we will also be sharing some extracts online and across our social media platforms

We will also be showcasing a selection of extracts in a book. Chapters to be included in the book are; Family, Food, Health, Occupations, Society, Nature and Future. The aim is to show how the pandemic has affected 3rd Agers across the 4 months of lockdown.

Do I have to share my name and details publicly?

Anything we share will be done so using a first name and area only, i.e. ‘Mary from Surrey writes…’ If you are uncomfortable with this, we recommend you sign off each entry using a pseudonym, you may also want to change the names of anyone mentioned within your diary contribution.

How do I submit my Diary entry?

Please write your contribution (or you are free to use other media such as pictures) and submit it using our online form.

Or if you want to send your contribution by post please mark it Diary Project to :

156 Blackfriars road
London
SE9 8EN

If you have a query or concern please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Many thanks for sharing your stories!

Hundreds of members have now joined the project and are recording their thoughts and experiences during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. 

One member, Sylvia, is writing her thoughts down in regular entries in a diary. Sylvia wrote:

"As I sit here on March 20th 2020, I am thinking of this strange and unusual situation in which the whole world is involved. My Granddaughter in Canada is giving birth to her first child (my first Great Grandchild ) as I write. What a world this new arrival is being born into but maybe it was always thus. I was born just three years before the second world war and they were also strange times. I was born in the Steel city of Sheffield that was bombed on a regular basis. So fear, little food and interrupted schooling were situations common to those times.To quote Charles Dickens, "It was the best of times it was the worst of times" although what will turn out to be the best, remains to be seen but having said that, I can already begin to feel optimistic that these coming days, weeks----years !! will make us begin to lose our complacency and as seniors, our probably comfortable lifestyles"

Sylvia goes on to record her thoughts on individual subjects such as food and books.

Interim Learning Manager, Alison May said, “We’ve had a fantastic response – thank you so much for being part of this UK-wide Shared Learning project. Your enthusiasm is inspiring and we are delighted to receive examples of your work. Please bear with us, there may be a slight delay with postal entries but we will reply as soon as we can.

You can read more on the diary project in our Learning blog – Sources Online – outlining the types of things you may want to consider when writing down your thoughts.