NIREC Advice Sheet No. 2 – Group Leaders
This regional advice sheet was prepared by the N.I. Regional Executive Committee using the feedback from local U3As at a Regional Workshop led by Carole Millen of the Third Age Trust. For further advice see the Third Age Trust Advice Sheet 14 (Group Leaders), Discussion Paper 2 (The Challenge of Finding Group Leaders) and other material available on the national website or on request from the National Office.
Encouraging New Interest Groups
Ask new members what Interest Groups they can suggest or help run. Remind potential leaders that it is not necessary to be an expert to start a new group. Have a suggestion box at monthly meetings for new activities.
Support for Interest Group Leaders
Consider a hand book for Group Leaders. Have an annual lunch to recognise the Group Leaders’ contribution, give them a chance to share experiences and for the committee to explain policy. Group Leader responsibility can be shared and stress that help is available.
Financing Interest Groups
The committee may agree to provide a “seed” float for new groups. Booking a venue makes a financial commitment and should only be done by a committee member. Group Leaders should not hold funds in a separate account from the Treasurer.
Maintaining Enthusiasm and U3A Ethos
Rotating the leadership can prevent stagnation in an interest group, as can new members. Using paid tutors goes against the U3A ethos and has potential for major problems with insurance and employment legislation. If there is demand from members for an activity which can only be run with a paid tutor, then it could be organised as a non U3A event.
Handling Problems with Interest Group Size
If a group becomes too large, sub-divide by interest or time. Varying the time or day may help. Encouraging in depth studies may allow the group to be split. Conversely, Interest Groups can close for a variety of reasons. It may be helpful to suspend a group when interest wanes and restart when newly joined U3A members rekindle the interest.
Code of Conduct for Interest Group Members
Leaders should ensure group members treat each other with respect. If a member behaves inappropriately, this must be dealt with. A discreet, private approach may correct the behaviour, otherwise seek the help of the committee.
Issue Date: 28/11/13