Crewkerne & District U3A member Val Warren, who is also the representative of the Avalon network of U3As in South Somerset, was one of 28 delegates from the South West who attended the U3A’s national conference and AGM at Nottingham University. It was reported by Chairperson Ian McCannah that the U3A has more than 400,000 members in the UK, is now bigger than the WI and the 22nd largest charity. There are however two concerns for the future which the U3A plan to tackle.
Val Warren said: “Our rate of growth is slowing down and we need to examine why older members are being retained but too many younger ones are leaving.” Val attended workshops that looked at issues such as recruitment, how to welcome new members and getting volunteers for groups and committees. Delegates heard that to make sure that people know as much as possible about the U3A, grants will made available in the future for regional support teams, workshops, training, group fairs and open days. It is hoped that a three to five year plan will encourage inclusivity and diversity as well as membership. The use of social media, good regularly updated websites and the distribution of information leaflets in the community, were pointed out as all having a vital part to play in the campaign to promote the U3A, encourage new membership and retain existing ones.