Group Coordinator’s Page
Group coordinators do not need to be experts!
The Group Coordinator acts as a facilitator, to help the group members to pursue their interests and meet their objectives. The frequency of meetings, venue and objectives of the group should all be discussed and agreed by the members. Wherever possible, a deputy to the coordinator should be appointed to provide cover for absence.
You can seek help and advice from the Group Liaison Officer. (See Contact page.)
Group Administration is very simple
The coordinator is asked to record the name and membership number of everyone attending on the Group Meetings Register. This is a requirement of the insurance cover provided by The Third Age Trust. Please send completed registers to the Group Liaison Officer.
All groups are self financing. The coordinator should keep a simple record of any money collected from members and how it is spent. The coordinator should keep a record of money that may be collected to pay for example, for room hire, materials etc., unless individually pay for things on the day.
An example where no cash reporting is required would be where members arrange their own transport to a venue and then individually pay and entrance fee. However, if a coordinator collected money to arrange a coach and a group entrance then that would require reporting. This is described in more detail in item 4 of the Financial Control Policy document. Reporting is quite simple, if in doubt the treasurer is always happy to help.
Please note that all group finances fall under the authority of Towcester U3A and that the funds technically belong to Towcester U3A and can only be used in furthering its own charitable purposes. Donations cannot therefore be made to other charities in the name of Towcester U3A.
If an incident occurs during a meeting which results in injury to persons or damage to property the coordinator is asked to complete an Accident Report Form and send it to the Business Secretary.
Group coordinator guidance notes
1 What is the role of a group coordinator?
The role of the group coordinator is to act as the facilitator for a group.
2 How should meetings be arranged?
The frequency of meetings, the venue, the activities and the objectives of the group should all be discussed and agreed by the group members. Members should also expect to share the organisation and preparation for meetings.
3 Do I need a deputy?
Wherever possible, it is very helpful to appoint a deputy to provide cover and back-up.
4 What about communications?
Good communications help a group to thrive and coordinators usually contact members about meetings, using email or phone. Groups are also encouraged to share information through the Towcester U3A website, Tuba, monthly bulletin, Facebook page and the notice board at general meetings.
5 How do I control attendance?
A register of attendance is required for U3A insurance cover purposes. Coordinators’ are therefore asked to use our Group Meeting Register form to record the name and membership number of everyone attending each group meeting plus the amount of any money collected from them. These forms should be submitted to the Group Liaison Officer once they are completed.
6 Who can attend?
Everyone attending must be current members of Towcester U3A, although occasional guests and visitors from other U3As are welcome.
7 Can we pay for speakers and/or tutors?
Modest expenses may be paid to speakers provided they are not U3A members. According to the ethos of the U3A movement, there should be no distinction between those who learn and those who teach, therefore the employment of paid tutors on a regular basis is not permitted. In addition, the insurance liability cover provided by the U3A will cover external speakers used on a casual basis but not paid tutors.
8 Can I be paid for the work that I do?
No. Coordinators can only be paid for their out of pocket expenses incurred while running a group.
9 What about finance if money is involved?
All groups are self-financing. Coordinators’ are asked to keep a simple record of any money collected from members and how it is spent. A Receipts & Payments Summary form is available for those who may find it convenient to use. Please contact the treasurer who will provide a suitable document to match your recording methods. Records of all receipts and payments should be held and retained for a minimum of 12 months. Cash surpluses are normally used to reduce members’ attendance costs.
10 Our Group handles a lot of money for outings and/or events and wishes to have its own bank account. Can they go ahead?
No, please contact the Treasurer. Bank accounts can only be operated under the full control of the Executive Committee. The Treasurer can provide a banking service to any group that requires it.
11 Can I enter into contracts on behalf of the U3A?
No. All proposed contracts must be referred to the Treasurer and approved by the Executive Committee.
12 How do I report accidents?
If an incident occurs during a meeting which results in injury to persons or damage to property, coordinators’ are asked to complete an Accident Report Form and submit it to the Business Secretary.
13 Does our Public Liability Insurance cover us when we are involved in any U3A activity?
Almost all U3A activities are covered, but activities in any craft using machine/power tools or with an engine are excluded. In addition, if you are contemplating or participating in potentially hazardous activities like abseiling, white water rafting, quad biking, etc. then consult National Office in advance. See info on Public Liability Insurance FAQs
14 Are group leaders covered by the U3A Third Party Liability Insurance if there is an incident in their group?
Yes, provided there is no illegality involved.
15 Does the U3A provide personal accident insurance?
No. The liability insurance cover provided by the U3A does not include personal accident for group leaders or members.
16 Are our members covered by U3A insurance for damage to their property whilst their home is being used to host a U3A event?
Yes, provided there is no illegality involved.
Educational Resources and Support
The National Resource Centre
Coordinators can obtain a range of educational resources from the Resource Centre at National Office. They can access the Resource Centre either by registering and logging on to the members’ homepage at the National Office website at http://www.u3a.org.uk/ or by telephoning 0208 315 0199. Individual subject lists are available from the Resource Centre on request. You can order up to three items for any meeting. Bookings can be made up to nine months ahead and items will be sent two to three weeks in advance of the meeting.
The Resource Centre at their Bromley office has a collection of non-book material available for all U3A groups to borrow free of charge, except for the cost of return postage. There are slides, videos, cassettes, DVDs and CD-ROMS available in a wide range of subjects.
Most subjects have a national coordinator you can contact directly via the Subject Advice link on the members’ homepage at the National Office website (see above). In some cases material can also be found online that coordinators can use or adapt to meet their needs.
FutureLearn’s mission is to pioneer the best social learning experiences for everyone, anywhere. A wide range of free online courses is available. Further information is available from their website at https://www.futurelearn.com/courses.
Hundreds of free extracts from Open University courses are available together with access to free courses on OpenLearn. Further information is available from their website at www.openuniversity.co.uk/u3aopenlearn.
University of Northampton
The university libraries are open to members of the University and the wider community. Flexible, varied and supportive learning services are available through libraries at both Park and Avenue campuses and through online environments. Further information is available from their website at www.northampton.ac.uk/about-us/services-and-facilities/library.
If a group coordinator has any questions or wishes to obtain educational resource and support not covered by the above, please would they contact the Group Liaison Officer (see Contact page).