Sunday, 28 March 2010

On Being a Subject Network Co-ordinator

I have been a Subject Network Co-ordinator for about 8 years now and have found the experience very pleasant. The job of the SNC is to help other members of U3As anywhere in the country either to set up a local group or give ideas and help for existing groups.

For U3As wishing to set up a group the first contact is usually head office. Here they hold Start Up leaflets on most topics. These they will send for free.

The second thing to do is to contact the relevant SNC directly and to this end the contact details are printed in every issue of the U3A News. They will have other helpful material such as Newsletters with content gleaned from other people in the Subject Network. In my case I have not written Newsletters since my subject of Photography does not easily lend itself to this except for stories and perhaps images from network members. Instead I have attached a web site of my own to the main U3A site. This contains everything you need to run a group. There is content from members of my network here with links to their sites or pages directly on my site.

Some SNCs organise Study Days where members gather to discuss ideas and learn new methods for teaching their own U3A group. Look out for these in the U3A News.

There are other SNCs who organise conferences or seminars that can last several days. Such a one is the Science and Technology network who for the past 8 years have had an annual gathering in Abergavenny. Talks on a wide range of topics are given by members of the U3A. Also included in the 4 day conference are trips to sites of interest. Having been to this conference a few times I have now also been to see the SS Great Britain, the Big Pit, Cardiff Art Gallery, the Mappa Mundi in Hereford cathedral, St Fagans Museum of Welsh Rural Life and the underside of the new Severn Bridge.

Thus each SNC runs their Network as they wish. The minimum requirement is to produce a Start Up leaflet. I have written a Start Up Leaflet for Photography but as I said earlier I amplified this idea with my web site. This system has the advantage that I can rapidly add or modify the site. Because Sheila and I run local Digital Imaging classes we are always producing new techniques for our students and these ideas are added.

So the message is that if you need a group locally and it does not exist or is full you can start one yourself. If you have no idea how to go about setting one up then contact head office and the relevant SNC.

Help is also available from the U3A Resources Centre and from Sources magazine.

Remember that expertise in your subject is not needed in most topics. No qualifications are required - just your enthusiasm. Members will be very grateful.

Peter Read

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