The way the nation has embraced video conferencing such as Zoom to stay in touch with friends and family is one of the few positives from the pandemic.
Ilkley & District u3a report that nearly 40% of its membership attended at least one large u3a online event in the past year and yet more have joined the many smaller activity group meetings, also held using Zoom video conferencing. These have included French conversation, Railways, Science and Art Appreciation to name just a few.
Peter Mate of u3a acknowledges that, although nothing beats meeting face to face with other people who share your interests, not everyone feels comfortable meeting indoors, even if social distancing is observed and the room is properly ventilated.
“Some of our members are recently retired and very active but others have been told not to mix unnecessarily. So Ilkley & District u3a is starting to experiment with hybrid meetings which look to combine our traditional face to face meetings with video conferencing. These allow those at home to join in the fellowship of u3a, albeit remotely”.
The largest hybrid meeting so far was on Tuesday 19 October when 40 people attended a socially distanced talk looking at Art on the London Underground in the Clarke Foley Centre, with another 20 participating remotely from home. Encouraged by the response, u3a will look to run similar events in the future.
For those who want to discover more about what the u3a has to offer, there are regular Drop-in sessions in the Clarke Foley Centre, the next one being Friday 5 November from 10.30am to 12noon. The group can also be found at ilkleyu3a.org and on Twitter and Facebook.