Members Area


Group Leader – Guidance & Support:

This is intended to be a quick and easy reference to Downe U3A and U3A Trust Policies and Guidelines and a working tool. It is intended to guide you in situations which any group leader, but particularly new leaders, may encounter running a group.

From time to time changes may be made to the guidance, for example when the Executive Committee makes a change to existing policy. When this happens, the website will be updated and you will be informed that a change has taken place.

It is not intended to cover every situation that might arise. If in doubt you should consult the Group Leader Co-ordinator or any member of the Executive Committee.


Group Leader (click on title to view description)


Group Organisation

•    Make sure you give sufficient information, on the website and in person, for individuals to make an informed choice as to whether they wish to participate and then make their decision, this is particularly important if you are running a physical activity.. You must not make the decision for them or exclude them from a particular activity.
•    Remind members if you are doing a physical active subject that they undertake it at their own risk.
•    If you are leading walks, use the ‘Walk Leader Checklist’.
•    If appropriate to your activity, consult the section on Licenses which covers photocopying, recorded music, DVD’s, video’s and performance.
•    If you provide written material and use the U3A logo make sure it is correctly displayed as covered in this guide.
•    Delegate where you can to spread the workload. Try to encourage one or more of your members to take a leading role or to run a session from time to time so that if you are unavoidably absent someone can take the session.

Your Members

•    Ask your members to provide you contact details, i.e. telephone numbers, e-mail address and to put ICE (In Case of Emergency) against selected contact numbers in their mobiles or carry next of kin details with them. (A copy of a Contact Details forms is available in the ‘Forms’ section.)
•    Ensure everybody attending is a member and always check when new faces arrive.
•    If you are asked whether a non-member can attend consult the Group Leader Co-ordinator or a member of the Executive Committee first. It is usual to allow a visitor to attend a group once before deciding whether to join your U3A.
•    If you have a situation where a non-member turns up, advise the committee afterwards and if a member brings a visitor establish whether permission has been given by the committee. If not, explain that in future for insurance reasons, prior permission is essential.
•    If a member stops coming try to find out why.

Groups Held in Outside Accommodation

•    Don’t sign any rental agreements – pass to the Treasurer.
•    If you are responsible for selecting a suitable venue make sure you consult the ‘Risk Assessment Checklist’ and ‘Supporting Your Members’ section which deals with accessibility for disabled members.
•    Use the ‘Venue – Day of Use Checklist’ to reassure yourself everything is in place. If you have any safety concerns do not continue if they cannot be resolved to your satisfaction.
•    Make sure you know the postcode for the venue.
•    If your activity takes place in a workshop/outbuilding consult the ‘Workshop Risk Assessment Checklist’ (available from the Group Leader Co-ordinator).
•    In the case of an accident which results in injury or damage to property, complete an accident form or in absence of the form send a detailed report to the Committee, including details of any witnesses.
•    If emergency first aid is required consult the St John Ambulance guide. If you have a smart phone it may be useful to download a free first aid app from the Red Cross.
•    Remember that personal accident insurance cover is not provided by The Third Age Trust.
•    If damage is caused to a property by a member of the group, take full details as in future it may be the subject of an insurance claim.
•    Should you have a difficult member whose behaviour is regularly disturbing other members of the group go to your Group Leader Co-ordinator as soon as possible after the end of the session.
•    If you have a member who is not able to cope independently inform the Group Leader Co-ordinator (see also U3A Members and Companion/Carers)
•    If you feel your group would benefit from having a particular item of equipment consult your Group Leader Co-ordinator.
•    Use the Resources Section to find free courses on a variety of subjects plus information on using the U3A website and the Resource Centre.


•    Once a group is set up with the prior approval of your committee you are fully protected by the liability insurance policy provided by the Third Age Trust.


Names, telephone numbers and email addresses are disclosed to you for the purpose of communications between Group Leaders and members. You should only release such details to other members if you can (1) ask the member whose details are sought if they consent or if the this is not possible (2) satisfy yourself that the reasons for the request are genuine and urgent.


If you are sending an email to your whole group and perhaps other people as well, use Bcc (blind carbon copy) to add group members so that you don’t display their email addresses to everyone else.
The following can make life easier:
Bcc – If you are sending to a group of contacts and you want to keep their addresses private.
Cc – If you want everyone to know all other recipients.
Subject – Include a brief heading which includes Downe U3A e.g. ‘Downe U3A Nature Meeting July’, ‘Downe U3A Nature New Venue’ to make it easier to find the email later.


  • These guidelines are to be used for your benefit and for the benefit of your members and to obtain best practice.
  • The golden rule is to consult the Treasurer before you do anything which affects the financing of your group.
  • Each group/activity should plan to resource itself as a self-financing/self-sufficient unit.
  • You should not hold a cash amount greater than £50 at any time. However this requires some definition/guidance:
    • If you collect subs for your venue and you can pay on the day for the venue, tea./coffee, etc., that is fine, ensure you obtain a receipt in case of a later query.
    • If you are in an arrangement whereby you are billed monthly/quarterly then your weekly/monthly sub should cover that cost and also build in an additional amount to cover absent members from your group from time to time. This may mean you hold amounts greater than £50 as noted above. These monies should be passed to the Treasurer who will lodge the money in the Downe U3A account and pay the account by cheque on receipt of an invoice from the venue patron. You will be issued with a receipt for money passed to the Treasurer. Records of these transactions will be recorded on the income/expenditure spread sheet.
  • If you are planning an event which involves larger amounts of money being transferred there are two options:
    • The Group Leader collects the money in advance and if the venue holder does not require payment in advance then the Group Leader can pay on the day when the group arrives and obtains a receipt.
    • If the venue holder wishes payment in advance, then assistance can be provided by the Treasurer issuing a cheque (but only for the amount received from the Group Leader).
  • No other bank account should be used in connection with Downe U3A activities.
  • If you cannot make a payment by cheque or cash and frequently have to use your own credit cards for group events you should consult the Treasurer.
  • You should not sign rental or other agreements in connection with Downe U3A activities. If approached to do so pass these on to the Treasurer who will present these requests to the Committee for approval or otherwise.

To view the Group Membership contact details form click here.


If you are a new group or need to find a new venue the following list of venues in the Downpatrick area could be helpful to get you started in your search. Please note:
•    This is not a list of recommendations.
•    Start your search in good time – good value venues may be booked well in advance.
•    Other venues may become available in the future.
•    Details are given below where available and every effort is taken to make they are kept up to date.
•    You should not sign any rental agreement (see Finance Guidelines).
•    Most of the venues may be open to negotiation on their normal hire rate, especially for block bookings.
•    If may suit your group to be located outside Downpatrick and you should consider venues such as the Dan Rice Hall, Drumaness or Ballynahinch Leisure Centre which are good value; some venues may even be free of charge. Villages such as Crossgar may have church halls which are likely to be economical.
Ballymote Community Centre 40 Killough Road, Downpatrick BT30 6PY
Telephone: 028 4461 2311
All spaces are on the first floor – there is a lift. There a number of smaller meeting rooms and a large hall (which tends to be booked well in advance). Tea/coffee available. Wifi. Car park can be very busy during the day.
Ballymote Sports and Wellbeing Centre 96 Glebetown Drive, Downpatrick BT30 6PX
Telephone: 028 4461 2919
All spaces on the ground floor with full access. Large sports hall, arts/craft room, small meeting room. Car Park.
Denvir’s Hotel 14 English Street Downpatrick BT30 6AB
Telephone: 028 4461 2012
Function room (with screen) and conference room available. Tea/coffee available. Limited on street parking only.
Down Leisure Centre 114 Market Street, Downpatrick BT30 6LZ
Telephone: 028 4461 3426
Large hall and games room available.
Downpatrick Arts Centre 2 – 6 Irish Street, Downpatrick
Telephone: 028 4461 0747
G.F. studio and studio bar (seats c 30). Pay and display car park close by.
Downpatrick Cricket Club 2 Strangford Road, Downpatrick BT30 6SL
Telephone: 028 4461 2869
Function Room
Lakeside Inn Drumcullan Road, Downpatrick
Lounge bar and lounge available.  Car park.
St Michael’s Centre 99 Irish Street, Downpatrick
Telephone: 028 4461 6488
All spaces on 1st/2nd floor. Theatre has raked seating and all necessary equipment for showing DVD’s. Other rooms available. Tea/coffee available. On street parking.
St Patrick Centre 53a Market Street, Downpatrick BT30 6LZ
Telephone: 028 4461 9000
Various small meetings rooms available on first floor (lift available). Tea/coffee available through the Café Restaurant. Parking at nearby pay and display car park.


Under UK copyright law you are only allowed to copy an insubstantial amount for personal use for the purposes of private study or non-commercial research, but the law does not define ‘insubstantial’. There is no magic figure or percentage applied as each case would be viewed on the basis of the perceived importance of the extract rather than simply the quantity.

A Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) license allows multiple photocopies from books, journals and magazines. Extracts can be up to 5%, one chapter or one article, whichever is the greater.

The licence costs £60 and runs until 31st July each year, regardless of when you actually take it out.

NB: This licence does not allow multiple copies of maps, charts, newspapers or printed sheet music including the words.
There is no blanket licence available to multiple copying of sheet music; this is always illegal unless it is no longer in copyright.  There is some free sheet music available on the internet at choral public domain ( and this will give you links to other useful sites.

If you feel you need to have a license to cover your activity, submit a request to the Committee for consideration.

Digital Images

The same principles and legislation which govern copyright in hard-copy apply to material in electronic formats. The main difference is that, by their nature, they are easy to access, copy and distribute. Information is freely available via the internet but this does not mean it is free to copy; there is a common misconception that anything on the internet is in the public domain i.e. publicly accessible and therefore free to use. A work only falls into public domain once copyright expires. One option is to search for images published under a Creative Commons (CC) Licence. CC is a non-profit organisation that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools. CC licences do not replace copyright but are based upon it and allow sharing for non-commercial use.


The Resource Centre, located in the National Office in Bromley has a collection of non-book materials (DVD’s, CD’s, videos, slides and audio cassettes) on a wide range of subjects available to all U3A’s to borrow free of charge with only the return postage to pay.

Lists on individual subjects are available on request and there is an online catalogue accessed from the members’ area of the national website. The online catalogue also houses some online courses for download and links to external website of interest.

To borrow items from the collection you have to be registered with the Resource Centre and this can be done either online or by contacting them on 020 8315 0199.

Once registered you can either order items online:
By email –
By telephone – 020 8315 0199
By post – The Resource Centre, The Third Age Trust, 19 East Street, Bromely, BR1 1QE

Bookings can be accepted up to 9 months ahead and the earlier you send your request the more likely you are to receive the item. Loans are for a period of 3 weeks and may be renewed if nobody else is waiting for them. Longer loans can be negotiated on request.

Items are posted to you and include a return date. The packaging can be reused and borrowers are advised to take items to the Post Office to ensure the correct postage cost and to obtain a free certificate of posting.

The Resource Centre is open Monday to Thursday 9.30 am to 4.00 pm.


Online Learning: and From the Open University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) respectively are courses based on material drawn from full time courses. The Google Cultural Institute has over 6 million photographs, documents and videos of cultural and historical interest. The institute includes the Google Art Project which has ultra high resolution images of artworks and artifacts from 70 museums around the world and street tours of some of the museums. There are also videos of part art talks and upcoming talks are announced on The World Wonders Project has images and virtual tours of world heritage sites. comprises a wealth of programmes on history, science, books, the arts, etc. Some of these are available indefinitely. Talks on approximately 15 minutes on a range of topics. The site can be search by subject area. Many international museums and other cultural institutions make interesting video material available here. Free ebooks from Project Guttenberg. Copyright issues are a minefield, as all 50,000 books on the website are legal to download in the U.S.A but not necessarily in the U.K. It is probably safe to say that books published before 1923 are out of copyright in U.K. Use the link to see guidance on this issue. The Project Guttenberg License.

MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses)

Many universities worldwide have produced these courses which are available for anyone who has an internet connection. Most courses use interaction between learners as an important part of the learning process. They are available under the Creative Commons Licence which means they are free to use. For a comprehensive list of portals for MOOCs go to

Other Online Resources First Click Beginners Guide pdf for any members who are beginners with the internet.

Paper Resources

Sources is an educational journal which is enclosed with the Third Age Matters three times a year. Each issue is devoted to one subject area and back copies are archived in the Resource Centre and available to see online once you have logged in to the members’ area.

Subject Advisors:

There is a network of over 50 subject advisors, whose role is to provide advice on both the setting up of a group in their particular speciality and the sustainability of ones already in existence, which may benefit from new ideas or a different approach.
Some of the subject advisors keep in touch with group leaders through newsletters or blogs which is a useful way of sharing suggestions and good practice and some also organise study days.
They cover a wide range of subjects – American Archaeology to Wine Appreciation with a real mix of academic, practical and leisure activities in between.

Our subject advisors with their contact details can be found in each issue of Third Age Matters and they all have a page under Subject Advice in the members’ area of the national website where you can often find links to additional information, including newsletters.


Accessibility for Disabled Members

U3A’s must do all they can to be as accessible as possible both for their existing members and to third agers in their local communities who may wish to join. U3A’s must take all reasonable steps to ensure that people with disabilities can attend the interest groups of their choice, without necessarily needing a companion/carer with them and it is important to reassure them that you will do all you can to support them and make their attendance as easy and stress-free as possible.

Members who cannot manage to participate in their chosen activities without help, should be given the opportunity to bring a companion/carer with them, who for the time that they are in attendance, will be covered by the liability insurance provided by The Third Age Trust. The only exception to this is a professionally employed carer who would have to be covered by an individual liability policy.

Further guidance is available from the Group Leader Co-ordinator or other committee members on issues such as Supporting Members with Hearing Loss and Supporting Members with Vision Loss.
An appropriate Risk Assessment should be completed for all venues used for meetings and activities.

Vulnerable Adults
Everybody has different levels of vulnerability and each of us may be regarded as vulnerable at some time. All members who may be vulnerable have a right to protection from all types of harm and abuse.

  • In all our activities we will:
  • Value, listen to and respect members who may be vulnerable.
    Ensure that all members feel welcomed, respected and safe from abuse.
  • Recognise equality amongst people and relationships.
    Do all we can to help members who may be vulnerable to be and to remain active contributors within U3A and if they are or become unable to participate independently, encourage them to bring a companion/carer with them in order that they can continue to enjoy the benefits of U3A membership.
  • Ensure all members are aware of their responsibilities to protect vulnerable adults.

U3A Members and Companions/Carers.
U3A membership is open to everybody in their third age, namely those who are no longer in full time employment and with no parental responsibilities. U3As are self-help, co-operative organisations run entirely by the members for the members and therefore it is important that individuals are able to take full responsibility for their own participation in U3A interest groups and events. Should the situation arise when a member no longer feels confident that he/she can participate fully without needing help, it will be necessary for that person to be accompanied by a companion/carer who will be covered by the liability insurance provided by the Third Age Trust whilst in attendance. Even if you have members who are willing to help you cannot allow them to take responsibility for another member’s care as this could be deemed to be outside our insurance cover if any injury or damage resulted.

Risk Assessments
A Risk Assessment must be completed for all venues used by Downe U3A groups. It may be useful to complete an assessment when considering the suitability of a venue for the group. Thereafter, it will be necessary to complete an assessment when starting to use a venue.

Where a group is using a variety of outdoor venues, e.g. walking, nature, etc. is will only be necessary to complete one overall assessment of the likely conditions which may be encountered.

When assessments are completed, consider what measures members would be advised to take, to minimise the potential risks, e.g. the type of footwear needed, other protective clothing. This information can then be added to the activity details on the website.

Copies of completed assessments must be returned to the Group Leader Co-ordinator. Assessments should be reviewed annually or when there is an observed change at the venue or in the membership of the group. For assistance with the completion of assessments, please refer to the Group Leader Co-ordinator or member of the committee.

Copies of the following Risk Assessment Forms are available in the ‘Forms’ section:
•    Venue Risk Assessment Checklist
•    Walk Leader Risk Assessment Checklist
•    Workshop Activity Risk Assessment Checklist

Venue Checklist (Day of Use)
This forms is an aid for Group Leaders using indoor venues to ensure everything is checked and covered on the day. Copies of these should be retained along with the Register of Attendance.

First Aid
First aid training is not provided by the U3A.
Portable Guides are available from the following sources:
St John’s Ambulance produce a pocket paper guide to essential first aid. You can order your free copy on their website:
The Red Cross and St John’s Ambulance provide apps for mobile phones with first aid tips:
The British Heart Foundation offers an app to guide you through performing CPR:
A brief guide providing information on the symptoms of some common medical problems is in the ‘Forms’ section.

Incident Reporting
An Incident Report Form must be completed when any incident takes place which has resulted in injury to a person (or where an injury may have been incurred although not obvious at the time) or damage to property.
The form must be completed as fully as possible and signed by the Group Leader or person responsible for the group at the time of the incident.
Completed forms must be returned to the Group Leader Co-ordinator.
A copy of the Incident Report Form is available in the ‘Forms’ section. It is advised to have a copy of the form available to you at all meetings or activities.



venue-checklist indecent-report-form