u3a - u3a Networks

Networks are informal groupings of u3as usually local to each other. Representatives from each u3a meet to share ideas, events, speakers, training sessions, discuss issues and support each other.

Networks are vital links in the communication chain across the organisation and are greatly valued by the Trust.

Network Link Meetings

Network Link is a opportunity for networks and clusters of u3as from across the movement to meet, share news and connect.  There are three Network Link meetings a year.

12th October 2021

 

Networks and what they do

Networks provide the opportunity to meet others with similar responsibilities to share experiences and events, discuss new ideas, and to develop solutions to challenges. U3as may participate in Network organised events such as workshops, study days or summer schools. Each Network chooses their own organisational structure, some are very informal with no constitution or procedural rules, no committee, and no bank accounts, instead, the u3as take it in turns to organise meetings and events. Other Networks may prefer to have a constitution which governs the running of the Network and defines the frequency of meetings, rules for elections to the committee, banking arrangements etc. If you intend to set up a Network bank account, you will need a constitution.


What Networks do depend on what the member u3as forming the Network want and can offer but it may include:

  • Developing and sharing lists of potential speakers.
  • Organising Network study/interest days for members of the Network's u3as (and sometimes neighbouring u3as).
  • Organising training/information events for u3a committee members, potential committee members, group leaders/convenors etc.
  • Organising shared learning projects.
  • Establishing links with outside organisations, such as universities, and participating in local initiatives.
  • Providing a regular forum for member u3as to meet to share information, disseminate good practice and discuss issues of concern
  • Sharing resources and setting up reciprocal interest group arrangements between members of the Network.
  • Produce a newsletter.
  • Arranging inter-u3a competitions.
  • Increase awareness of u3a in the community.
  • Support communications to and from The Third Age Trust


Membership of a Network is voluntary. They may cross regional boundaries. Some u3as choose to belong to more than one Network, especially if they are situated on county borders. It isn’t necessary to join the Network nearest to you. Additionally, in some places, there may be small Networks of, say, four or five neighbouring u3as working together inside a larger Network.


Cooperation between Networks

Networks can come together to organise conferences, residential schools, study days and social events as well as sharing good practice, speaker lists etc.


Funding

Many Networks levy a small capitation fee on their member u3as. Others charge one flat rate, or a fee related to membership bands. Others choose different ways to raise funds. Some choose not to charge and ensure that all events are self-funded, but it is important that Networks remain solvent.


The Trust is keen to encourage small groups of u3as to arrange workshops/seminars on topics concerned with the running and future development of their u3as. Any small group of u3as which would like to hold such an event may apply for a grant from The Trust to cover venue hire and associated administrative costs and possibly a contribution towards refreshments. For more information contact your Regional Trustee


If a network wishes to use the u3a logo or apply for funding as mentioned above, they do have to sign a Network Affiliation Agreement (NAA) with the Trust. A copy is available from the chair of Network Link and a signed copy needs to be sent to the CEO for signature and retention.


Relationship with the Third Age Trust

The Trust is extremely supportive of Networks and recognises the important part they play currently in both the lives of individual u3as and the movement, and the increasingly significant part they will play as the number of u3as continues to rise. With the large number of individual u3as throughout the UK, it is difficult for The Trust to stay in touch and get feedback from the whole organisation, whereas the Networks are a useful intermediate level allowing The Trust to reach u3as through the Networks. Network contacts notified to the Network Link chair will automatically receive all relevant national mailings and Regional Trustees will usually include Network contacts on their mailing list.


Network Link Meetings

Network Link meetings are held 3 times per year, and they are meetings where representatives of Networks throughout the UK are invited to hear latest Trust developments and share best practice and ideas on a few main topics each meeting. Network Link meetings are usually attended by the Board Officers, most Regional Trustees, and the Trust’s CEO, and so are an opportunity to have direct contact with the main decision-makers in the movement.

Peer Support Groups and Networks

A Peer Group is defined as a grouping of members holding a similar committee or other responsibilities within their u3a. (e.g. a ‘Treasurers’ peer group). A Peer Group Network would enable members of a regional Peer Group to engage in mutual support by solving shared problems, describing best practice, exchanging ideas for new developments, etc. The members could be current post-holders but could also be past or prospective postholders or an ordinary u3a member – wherever the interest or competency lies.

Peer Support Shared Practice Guide - ideas compiled from various networks by Derek Harwood of London Region. We hope you find them useful.


Current Networks

Map of u3a Regionsu3a Networks are grouped into regions across the UK. The different regions are shown on the map and listed below; if you would like to contact a specific network please contact them through their website as links in the list below.

 

 

 East Midlands

East of England

London

North East

  • Border Link
  • Northumbria Business Secretaries
  • Northumbria Group Co-ordinators
  • Northumbria IT Network
  • Northumbria Membership Secretaries
  • Northumbria Region u3a
  • North Northumberland Network (NNN)
  • SE Northumbria u3a Chair’s Network
  • Northumbria Treasurers
  • Tyne Valley Network

North West

 Northern Ireland

  • Greater Belfast and North Down
  • Northern Ireland Region

Scotland

South East

South West

  • Avalon Network
  • Bath & Wiltshire
  • Channel Islands
  • Cotswold u3a Link
  • Devon Link
  • East Devon Link/Network
  • East Dorset Network
  • Mid Cornwall
  • North Devon u3a Link
  • Northern Somerset Association of u3a's
  • Tamar Valley
  • Two Moors
  • West Cornwall
  • West Dorset
  • West Somerset Partnership 

 Wales

 West Midlands

Yorkshire & The Humber