Welwyn Hatfield's U3A has been an 'absolute lifeline' for elderly over past year
- Credit: Welwyn Hatfield U3A
A committee member of Welwyn Hatfield's University of the Third Age (U3A) group has described it as an 'absolute lifeline' for members over the past year.
U3A is now in its 40th year and Welwyn Hatfield's group has more than 800 members and over 60 interest groups.
The U3A is a worldwide charitable organisation set up for retired people and run by its members, which offers activities including walking, talking, painting, creating, languages, technology and more.
Before lockdown, weekly live talks were provided where members met for a chat and listened to a presentation.
Committee member Steve Hall said: "It's all run by volunteers and people bringing their expertise to it. We would normally have a guest speaker every other week on Wednesdays but had to adapt during the pandemic.
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"We usually had over 100 people attend that in a hall. Of course during lockdown we've not been able to do that."
So to adapt the group began giving the talks via Zoom. "Teaching them Zoom was part of the package," admitted Steve.
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"They had to learn how to use all this technology first before they could even join us, so that was part of the job the U3A did.
"We've had everything from a producer of Morse tv series to the leader of the Queen's Flight who used to ferry the royal family about on an aircraft."
The talks via Zoom have been very successful with often more than 100 people attending - by introducing members to Zoom the group was able to introduce new activities.
Steve added: "We've also had coffee mornings, where people can come online via zoom and are split up into small groups. They basically go off into a chat room and have a chat about whatever is going on.
"It's a way of keeping people communicating, particularly as there's a lot of single elderly people out there, who I think the U3A has been an absolute lifeline for them this year."
The group celebrated the 40th year of the U3A by having an open offer to anyone to join them for a guided tour of Oxford via Zoom earlier this month.
But they hope when all restrictions are lifted later this month, they will be able to return to their normal events like hosting a garden party at Breaks Manor in Hatfield.
For more information visit: u3awelhat.org.uk.