Guidance for group leaders

This document is in draft pending review by group leaders and the HIU3A committee. If you have suggestions for improvement, please let Bridget and Andy know.

These notes are provided to help Hayling u3a group leaders run their groups. In practice, leading a HIU3A group is not intended to be onerous. Instead we hope you find it a pleasant and rewarding experience.

If you are interested in starting a new group, click/tap here to find out what's involved.

Click/tap any of the following headings to see more information.

Creating a helpful group page on our web site

Our Group Co-ordinator will create your initial group page. You can then update it yourself.

Your group page is important because it:

  • Allows members and prospective members of HIU3A to find out about your group and how to get in touch if they'd like to join.
  • Lets prospective members see the breadth of what HIU3A offers and encourages them to join us. It's likely they'll review the group lists so your information will promote HIU3A even if they aren't interested in joining your group.

We've kept your group page as simple as possible. All we ask for is some basic information, a short description for group lists and a more detailed description for the group page.

Guidance about page content

When you update your group page you'll see a form where you can change:

  • The name of your group - you can change it if your group evolves over time.
  • A short description to be used in group lists. Typically a summary of your group's activity and an indication of when you meet. For example: "The cycling group arranges monthly rides of two to three hours' duration. Usually at 10.00am on the first Tuesday of each month."
  • A more detailed description of your group for the group page To get away from form filling, we give you a blank box so you can say as much, or as little, as you like. Consider including:
    • A bit more about the group including when and, if you meet in a public place, where you meet.
    • Some friendly words to encourage people to join.
    • Any constraints on membership, for example "This is not a group for people wishing to start to learn French".
    • Any costs involved.
  • Your group's type. This is shown in your group page and determines how your group appears in group lists and calendars. Typically one of:
    • Any member can attend
    • Open to new members
    • Currently closed to new members
  • Which activity/activities are covered by your group. Your selection drives the 'Groups by activity' page. Let the Group Co-ordinator know if you think the list should be expanded.
  • The maximum number of members you can accommodate or "No practical limit". This helps the group co-ordinator gain an oversight of how groups are doing.

If you want to learn how to lay out your detailed description, and add links and images, click/tap here.

How to update your group page

Log in to the web site and go to your group page (you can find it in the group list). The system will recognise you as a leader of the group (there can be more than one) and you'll see a blue button like this:

Click/tap it to update your group page.

Keeping track of your group's members

We ask you to keep an up-to-date member list on the web site. That's because:

  • You can easily email all members, or a selection of members, in your group (see next section). We automatically use the latest email address given us by each member so, if they update us, your list will update too.
  • Members of your group can contact each other easily via the web site.
  • Group members will see your group in the 'Your groups', 'Your calendar', 'News from your groups', and 'Articles from your groups' services, as well as electronic calendars and newsfeeds.
  •  Handing over your group to someone else is much easier if you have an up-to-date list - particularly if you become unavailable for any reason.
  • If a member of your group ceases to be a member for any reason, we notify you automatically by email and remove them from your member list. We can't do that if your list doesn't include them. That saves you the embarassment of continuing to email a past member or, worse, a member who has died.
  • As soon as a new HIU3A year starts, your member list shows which members have not yet paid their subscription. You can use this to help the Membership Secretary by reminding your members of overdue payments.
  • Our Groups Co-ordinator gets an oversight of how all our groups are doing, and the health of our u3a.
How to review your group's member list

Log in to the web site and:

  1. Go to your group page (you can find it it the group lists)
  2. Click/tap the 'Membership list and management' link to see your current list of members

If you want to make changes to the list, click/tap 'Manage group membership' or read on for more details...

How to add members to your group and remove them

Click/tap here for detailed step-by-step instructions (with pictures) for adding and removing members.

Note that you do not have to remove retiring members. The site does that automatically for you.

Letting your members know what's happening

You can keep members up-to-date in various ways. Click/tap any of the following to find out more:

Email

You should always send emails to group members through the web site rather than keep a personal list. The web site ensures you:

  • Use the latest address we have for each member.
  • Observe members' preferences for receiving circulation emails.
  • Do not email members who have retired from HIU3A; in particular those who have died.

You can email:

  • Individual group members
  • The whole group
  • Selected group members (you just tick which members will receive your email)

Click/tap here for more information about how to send emails through the site.

News articles

News articles appear in the sidebar on your group page. Depending on what kind of device people use, the sidebar is either displayed on the right or the bottom of the page.

Members of your group can see news items even if they have deleted your emails. Also, news items demonstrate to prospective members that your group is active.

Add a news item

To add a news item to your group page, log in to the web site and:

  1. Go to your group page (you can find it it the group lists)
  2. Click/tap the 'Add a news item or article' link.

You then enter a title for your article and the text for your news. If you want to can show the item only to members who have logged in to the site. Use this option only if your item includes personal information that should not be shown to the public.

Click/tap here for more information about adding and updating news items.

Having created your news item, you can send it as an email - that's an easy way to let everyone in your group know about it.

To avoid the group page looking stale, the site periodically replaces older items with a link that allows viewers to see archived items.

Meetings and other events

Every year, before the start of the HIU3A year begins in April, you will be asked to update your events for the new year. There are two types of event:

  • Recurring events - these all have the same title and description and automatically repeat throughout the year. For example, the 'first Tuesday of each month' or 'Every fortnight'. Most groups' meetings are set up this way. You can exclude specific dates (to avoid Christmas, for example) and add extra ones.
  • One-off events - each event occurs at a given date and time and has its own title and content. These are useful for groups such as Walking which goes to a different destination each time.

Or you can mix the two.

Your events automatically appear on your group page and in our site's calendars.

Click/tap here to find out more about adding and updating events.

Forums

Forums are a good way to conduct discussions within your group outside of meetings. For example, the Cycling group uses a forum to discuss destinations each month.

You can opt for the discussion to be visible to the public or only HIU3A members. In any case, people have to log in to contribute to a disussion.

Contact the web site editor if you'd like to set up a forum for your group.

Personal calendars and newsfeeds

Members can:

You don't have to do anything extra. The web site will automatically include relevant items.

You can also:

  • Send notices to the HIU3A editor for inclusion in our newsletters.
  • Post your group's details on display boards at monthly meetings.
  • Ask our Chair to make announcements at monthly meetings on your behalf.
Saving your group's work

If your group generates material that might interest people in the future, you can add it to your group page as an article. There are three types of article:

  • Featured articles appear at the top of article lists
  • Normal articles appear latest first
  • Archived articles do not appear on group pages but are available via a link to a page that shows all articles.

Ideally, people should be able to read articles without downloading anything. However, they can include links to documents and images. There is a limit to the size of items you can store in our web site. That means you will be unable to upload videos or high definition images. Instead you can link to external web sites such as YouTube or Dropbox. Contact the web site editor if you need help with that.

You have the option to restrict articles to HIU3A members who have logged in to the site, but making articles public might help promote your group and HIU3A as a whole.

Click/tap here for more information about adding and updating articles.

Delegate web site changes

If there's a member of HIU3A willing and able to help you manage your group's pages, you can authorise them to make changes on your behalf by adding them as an editor for your group. They don't have to be a member of your group so you can delegate to a friend, spouse or partner, for example, provided they are a HIU3A member.

There's more information about how to do that here.

If you're stuck, you can ask the Web site editor for help, or to make the change for you

Places to meet

If you need a place to meet, there's a list of venues we use here. You can use links we provide to find out which groups meet at each venue so you can contact relevant group leaders to find out more.

Handling money

All groups need to be self funding. Shared payments towards covering group necessities such as hiring of halls or equipment, sharing travel expenses, refreshments, etc should be mutually agreed by group members. If you expect contributions from members, you should provide details in your group's page (see above) so there are no surprises.

Apart from equipment belonging to HIU3A (see 'Grants for equipment' below) There is no need for your expenses to be audited or declared.

The Visits group has a system for recording its income and expenses which is visible to the HIU3A Treasurer. The group agrees a fixed price to cover all expenses inc. coach, travel, insurance etc, which is presented to and agreed by members when they buy their tickets.

If the group gets full

When you get to the maximum number of group members you can handle, use your group page to change your group’s status to 'Closed to new members'. That will automatically show a message on the page explaining the situation and inviting potential new joiners to register their interest in your group. You will be notified by email of any registrations and you can review them via the ‘Show registrations of interest’ link in your group page.

If someone contacts you directly wanting to join when you are full, you can register their interest on their behalf using the ‘Record an interest in this group’ option on the group page.

If there are u3a members who have registered their interest in your group and are waiting to join, you should consider asking any current members, who are poor attenders, to leave and make room for them.

If it helps, the committee has authorised you to remove a group member who has missed three meetings without giving a reason.

Emergency contacts

Members can add their emergency contacts via their profile page. When members log in to the site they can see a link to their profile in the 'Member sevices' menu or at the foot of every page in the site. We also add a link to it from all emails sent via our web site.

Emergency contacts allow you to get in touch with relevant people following an incident. While you can usually contact a spouse or partner via a member's contact number, that might not be useful if:

  • The member lives alone
  • They use a mobile number as their contact number
  • Spouses and partners are involved in the same incident.

To reduce the stress of dealing with an incident, you should make sure your members have entered emergency contacts.

Once a member has stored their emergency contacts they are automatically avaliable to leaders of all groups to which they belong. You should not rely on personal lists as they can quickly become out of date and are not visible to other group leaders.

More about profiles

Click/tap here for information about the profile page.

View a member's emergency contacts

Log in to the site and use menu options 'Member services' / 'Member lookup'.

Use the service to find the member in the HIU3A database.

You will then see their details. Even if the member has specified that information should not be visible, group leaders can always see their emergency contacts.

List emergency contacts

Useful if you want to:

  • See who has not yet provided emergency contacts.
  • Take a list with you if you are meeting outside your home.

To see the list, log in to the site and use menu options: 'Member services' / 'Group services' / 'Your group contacts'.

If you lead more than one group, you will be asked to select which group you want.

You will then see a list of members. Click/tap any of them to see their contact details including their emergency contacts.

Transport

It's OK for members to offer lifts to other members to attend HIU3A events. Members can accept voluntary contributions, but formal charging is illegal.

Members offering lifts should check their personal insurance, but offering lifts for social purposes is usually covered.

Grants for equipment

You can request a grant for any equipment your group might need. Contact our Groups co-ordinator in the first instance. As a minimum, they will want to know:

  • What you want to purchase
  • How you intend to use it
  • The likely cost
  • Any maintenance costs

Note that purchased equipment is the property of HIU3A, so:

  • It can be used by any group at the HIU3A committee's discretion.
  • You must keep track of where it is.
  • In the first instance, you should consult the Groups co-ordinator about maintenance, repair, disposal and replacement of the equipment.
  • When requested, present the equipment to a member of the HIU3A committee for inspection.
What if there's a problem?

If an incident should occur during your group sessions (eg. an injury, damage to property, physical assault), you should complete a u3a Trust Incident Form.

Please notify the HIU3A Chair and Group Co-ordinator within 48 hours of the incident, they will provide support and assistance for dealing with it. You should submit your incident form to them as soon as you can.

The latest version of the form at the time of writing is available here as a Word document and a PDF version (printable without needing extra software).

The very latest version is available from the members' area of the u3a Trust web site. It's unlikely to change significantly, however.

u3a insurance documents and incident forms

We've asked for direct, permanent links to the u3a Trust web site, but apparently that's too difficult.

To get to the forms, you have to:

  • Go to the u3a Trust web site
  • Click/tap 'Login' in the header
  • Either login or, if you don't have a u3a Trust username and password, use the 'Don't have an account?' link to register with the site, then login
  • Use menu options: 'Members Area' / 'Support for u3as / 'Advice and Guidance'

That takes you to a page that provides various documents. Insurance documents are in the Insurance section. Incident forms are in the 'u3a Policies and Procedures' section.

Handing over a group

There will be occasions when, for many different reasons, a group's leadership will need to change. The group will need to agree on who they feel will best take over the role.

The person concerned should be directed to the 'Guidance for group leaders' page (the page you are reading now) in the Articles section of our site to find out what is involved. They should take further advice from our Group Co-ordinator if necessary, before making their decision to take on leadership of the group.

Implement a change of leadership

As current group leader you can update the leadership of the group yourself.

The new leader must be a group member. If not, you will have to add them to your group. See 'Keeping track of your group's members' above.

To change your group's leader, log into the site and:

  • Go to your group page (you can find it it the group lists)
  • Click/tap the 'Change group details' button
  • In the 'Leadership' section, click/tap the 'Change leader(s)' button
  • Select the new leader(s) and, if appropriate, deselect existing leaders(s)
  • Click/tap 'Update group leader(s)'
  • Click/tap 'Submit your change' to complete your update

If you remove yourself as leader your ability to manage your group's information on the web site is automatically revoked. You might want to consider retaining a leadership role for a while so you can help the new leader.

A change of leadership is a good opportunity to review the group's page. See 'Creating a helpful group page on our web site' above.

If the previous group leader cannot make the change

Our Group Co-ordinator and Web site editor can make changes for any group.

If you have any questions or concerns please contact our Group Co-ordinator who will be happy to help.