Learning News

Keeping in Touch with members who are offline

Published : 16 March 2020 Views: 18929

Thank you for all your great ideas and advice on ways you are staying healthy, active and connected with each other. The Member Link initiative aims to bring all that advice together in one place.

This page is for tips and advice to stay connected with members who are using offline ways to communicate.

Individual members may wish to recommend some of the below ideas to their committee or Group Leaders/Convenors, who can help coordinate matching up interested members. Contact information for each u3a is available via the find a u3a map

Phone Trees

You could set up a phone tree so that each member of a group could be responsible for calling two others at least once a week.  This is important for members not on the internet.

Rotate who phones who. Make a phone call once a week to a u3a friend, especially someone on their own, just for a chat. The social interaction is such an important part of our informal learning ethos.

Many telephone trees have been active throughout the pandemic and have become a vital part of a committee’s pastoral role to its members.

You can read more about how Newcastle u3a use telephone trees on our blog Sources

Telephone conferencing

You don’t have to be online to join in Zoom – you can call in.  The number to use will be provided by the member who has set up the meeting and if the host has a have a Zoom Phone license, you can dial-in to a meeting at the cost of a standard (national rate) telephone call.

Please consult your provider if you are unsure of your call costs, or whether you have any inclusive calls on your telephone contract (e.g. Free Evenings & Weekends, or Free AnyTime calls) - please note that these calls usually have a time limit of 59 minutes, but you can always hang-up and redial. 

WHYPAY? offers a free voice conferencing service using 03 numbers (which are included in bundled minutes for UK callers on fixed lines or a mobile telephone).

If you don’t have any bundled minutes, or exceed your bundle allowance, you’ll only be charged by your network operator at your standard geographic call rate – the same as for calls to 01 or 02 numbers.

Visit the how to guidance section for help setting up your account and using these programs.

WhatsApp calling

Talk on your phone with other members for free using WhatsApp groups. 

This is reliant on members of the group having a phone that supports WhatsApp but is free to use and enables users to stay in touch by text and allows them to share photos.

Visit the how to guidance section for help creating groups and making calls. 

Online Buddy Schemes

When limitations on face-to-face meeting begin to ease, members who have an internet connection can buddy up with those who do not. 

Why not volunteer to be a Buddy in your region? Contact your Trustee.

Writing Letters

Penfriends: You could write regularly to other members who are not online by post in your u3a, or across u3as.

Read about the International Committee penfriends scheme on our Sources blog

Round robin Letters: – You could write a letter – send it to a member who will add a bit and pass it to a member who will do the same. The chain will grow…

Print and Post – Post a newsletter to someone not online. The movement’s UK wide newsletter has a bitesize version to download and post through member’s doors. Register for the national newsletter

Other Support

Independent Age gives free, confidential advice for older people, their families and carers on issues such as getting help at home, home adaptations, care needs assessments, paying for care, and welfare benefits. 

Call the freephone line on 0800 319 6789 (Mon-Fri 8:00am-8:00pm, weekends and Bank Holidays 9:00am-5:00pm), or email your query to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The ClickSilver project from the Prince's Trust and Capital One supports older people to develop digital skills and confidence online and increase feelings of independence. 

If members are interested in obtaining support in these areas, they can be referred to the u3a Office to complete the referral process to ClickSilver.

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