Dave Smith's Submission

Revitalising U3A Tawa
U3A Tawa, like many other voluntary bodies, is going through an extremely demanding time.
For example:

-Covid-19 has made life very difficult for us all and in particular it has sapped the energy of
many older members who are also understandably wary of attending group sessions. Numbers
are said to be drastically down.

- The website and newsletter are in a sketchy state and information-sharing between the
Committee and the membership has been rather sparse and, at times, uninformative

- Overall the learning quality of courses is not what it used to be and many courses are no more
than recreational activities requiring little more than attendance e.g. lunches in local cafes

- We have lost a large number of actively contributing members to aged-residential sites on the
Kapiti Coast

- Many of our key leader are reaching a point in life where they can no longer be expected to
deliver what they once did. There is a pressing need to rejuvenate both those areas and the
membership.


The website of U3A NZ summarizes the purpose of U3A in this country as:

The purpose of U3A is to:
• Encourage further learning by listening, understanding, contributing,
researching and participating in discussion and relevant excursions
about new topics.
• Tap the great reservoir of knowledge, skills and experience of retired
men and women.
• Provide a venue for the meeting together of like-minded people to
learn, contribute and to make new friends in their local community.


It is now at least arguable that the balance of “activities” courses as against learning ones needs
some looking at.

It is important that the administration both now and in the next year commit to

a. A plan that looks at U3A Tawa’s current resources of teaching/leader talent and
identifies where and how it can be strengthened to introduce a wider range of courses.
b. Setting new agreed standards of Committee communication with members through the
website and newsletter
c. Liaising with all U3As in the Wellington area to discuss mutual problems and identifying
creative responses.
d. Taking a more proactive stance in identifying the sort of courses that will widen and
deepen the area of learning for members rather than relying solely on members
proposing course they might be prepared to offer. (A member survey of their interests
and abilities in that regard could prove to be most useful)
e. Developing a firm relationship with VUW and the Whitireia Polytechnic so that where
we cannot ourselves deliver courses on desired topics we will have access to advice and
support from those bodies. (E.g. the very successful lectures we set up with VUW re
climate change, family law and investment around three years ago. We may need more
guest speakers.)


This discussion paper is put this forward in the spirit of planned rejuvenation and
improvement and not meant to be a criticism of the past. U3A Tawa has been VERY
severely hit by the ongoing pandemic and the time has probably come to actively regroup.
It may be that we need both a management committee and a special rejuvenation team
running in parallel to get us more firmly back on our feet. That will certainly be a very
time-consuming (but necessary) process.


Other observations on the current state of U3A Tawa

As we age, connection, conversation, and activities become increasingly important. U3A Tawa still does
well in meeting these needs; possibly the needs of the majority of the present membership.
The concern however, is whether the wider purposes of U3A are being met: recruitment of members,
communication, relationships with other organisations, the range of courses available, finding new
session leaders. These more recent concerns have a direct bearing on TawaU3A retaining and building its
membership.

Recruitment of members
Recent news suggest that our membership numbers are around 175 and declining. More effort needs
to be made in building up numbers. This, in turn, increases the range of interests and the number of
persons prepared to lead courses. Contact needs to be made with organizations with elderly
membership, such as Grey Power, Age Concern, Arthritis NZ, Probus to let them know what U3A Tawa
offers.

Communication
Good communication is essential. Again, account should be taken of the past Tawa U3A experience, the
newsletters that were once produced and the excellent website communication that was maintained at
the beginning of the pandemic. All members need to buy into that.

Support for Course Leaders and Coordinators.
We suggest there needs be better support for Course leaders and Coordinators. Perhaps meetings once
or twice a year. It can be both interesting and a valuable help to know how other courses are doing. New
course leaders might benefit from the advice of more experienced members.

Elderly of other Communities
More needs to be done to contact the elderly of other communities: Māori, Pacific Islands, Asian and
Refugee, to let them know what U3A offers. Contact could be made through existing members who have
links with these communities.
____________________________________________________________________________________
This paper has been cooperatively compiled by a number of longstanding
members purely as a topic for positive debate. They strongly believe that the
next year will be of crucial significance in the recovery of U3A Tawa from the
ravages of the last two since the coming of Covid 19

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