Present – Alan Potter (Chair), Margaret Boneham, Peter Firth, Roger Mitchell, Bob Neate, Mary Ormsby, John Sharp (part 2 only), Christine Vasey
The meeting took place via Zoom and was in two parts.
Part 1 – General Discussion of the ‘Website Refresh’ and the role of the Website in recruiting new members and supporting and informing existing members.
A central theme was how to define and publicise what makes SUES special – its ‘Unique Selling Point’ or ‘Point of Difference’. It was agreed that this was there in our name – a University Extension Society committed to high academic standards and linked to higher education, particularly the University of Liverpool (sic) but perhaps establishing links to other local universities e.g. Edge Hill. At the same time, we need to be welcoming and accessible, not elitist or exclusive.
With this in mind, the changes already made to the website were supported and further developments along the following lines were suggested.
- A welcome page that should include not just a Chairman’s Welcome but also a brief summary of what SUES is and does including membership fee and future programme.
- More colour and more pictures to attract attention. Future events should have a picture as well as a description. Care will be taken to avoid any problems with copyright.
- Potential members should be encouraged to leave names and addresses, so that we can get back to them.
- The Archive section of the website should be kept up to date with copies of Forum and Committee Minutes, once these had been approved.
This will involve some expenditure. Mike Parr is paid for his work at an agreed hourly rate. Routine additions to the website might be done by the Committee. Mary has experience of doing this.
We were confident that we can develop a quality website, but we also need to make sure that it is well used. Some current members are accustomed to a society based on meetings and newsletters. Forum has been sent to 9 members by post but all other members have been happy to receive it by email. We have used Zoom to maintain a programme over the last year, but only one third of members have joined these sessions. We hope to maintain and, if possible, increase use of Zoom and of the Website when we are able to return to a normal programme.
Raising the Society’s profile in Southport and beyond is a priority. As Christine pointed out, she has friends who would be interested in SUES and activities, but are currently totally unaware of its existence. The following suggestions were made:
- Displaying Posters in places like the Atkinson and the Library. Alan to develop ideas – perhaps ‘SUES is back’.
- Advertising via University of Liverpool CE, even though this had only limited success last year.
- Ensuring that a Google Search for something like ‘Continuing Education Southport’ or ‘Lifelong Learning Southport’ brought up SUES. Peter suggested that Google might be able to help us achieve this.
- Co-operating with local groups such as U3A, Rotary, Soroptimists, Arts Society, National Trust etc. This could range from displaying posters to website links. We need to emphasise that we are not competitors but allies. We might offer to give a free lecture of perhaps 30 minutes on the history of University Extension.
If we can attract new members, we need to make them feel welcomed to a suitable environment for learning. As a relatively new member herself, Mary was able to give positive feedback on her own experiences.
Part 2 Normal Committee Agenda
The minutes of the Committee Meeting on 26th March were approved. They now become ‘Archive’ and will be available on Website.
These appear as agenda items.
Bob reported little change. This has been an exceptional year with no income from members and only limited expenditure. However, we expect that from September normal funding will resume with income from membership and course fees covering most of the costs of lecturers’ fees and room hire. Decisions will be confirmed at the July AGM.
The funding of refreshments was discussed. There will be no charge for tea and biscuits at individual talks and lectures (or for tea and scones at AGM), but refreshments during longer courses will continue to be organised and funded by course members. The Society will provide a starter pack if required. John has some tea and coffee from pre-Pandemic days!
Welcome to New Committee Members
Alan formally welcomed Christine, Margaret and Mary to what has now become a stronger and more representative committee. Their contributions have already paid dividends he hoped that they would enjoy their role and not find it too onerous.
Programme for 2021
Three events were confirmed.
Friday 14th May at 2.30pm – Tony Bell’s Zoom lecture on ‘The Hubble Telescope’
John will send an email reminder to members.
Friday 18th June at 2.30pm – Alan’s Lichen Walk in Victoria Park
Alan will provide information for Forum (May edition). There will not be a charge but members need to let Alan know if they are attending. This will be the Society’s first live gathering for more than a year.
Friday 23rd July at 2.30pm at All Saints’ Church Hall (Large Room) for AGM and More
We want our first indoor gathering to be safe and entertaining. The AGM will take place first and should not last more than 15 minutes. It will be followed by Tea and Scones and then contributions from members probably on the theme of ‘The Positives of 2020 – 2021’. This could be New Hobbies, Successful Recipes, Favourite Books or Poems, Maintaining Contacts etc. It will be helpful if some Committee Members will contribute.
The date will be published in Forum (May edition) with full details in June edition and documents for AGM in July edition.
Programme from September Onwards
Rather than enter a financial arrangement with Liverpool CE, we intend to pay lecturers directly at a similar rate to that paid by Liverpool CE. Payment to All Saints’ Church for room hire will also come direct from the Society. We need to check carefully that Public Liability is covered. Peter suggested that the Church may have a ‘Hall Extension’ clause in their policy.
Friday Afternoon Talks/Lectures
We hope that there will be 2 between September and December and two more between January and April. Offers from Alan (Science), Christine (Housman and Shropshire) and Mary (Scarisbrick) were gratefully accepted. We hope that University of Liverpool CE will provide at least one lecturer.
Monday Morning Courses
These courses will run from 10am to 12noon with a break for refreshments. Peter’s course on Norman Monarchs (Queens as well as Kings) will have 10 sessions between September and December. Roger’s course on Country House in 20th Century will have 8 sessions between January and March. Alan’s course on the Human Brain will have between 6 and 8 sessions in April and May
John has sufficient material for May and June. It was agreed that its contents could include fiction as well as fact. At a future meeting we will consider whether Forum should continue but not necessarily monthly, when normality returns.
It was agreed that the next committee meeting will be by Zoom at 4.30pm on Friday 11th June. This will be shortly before the publication of Forum and Alan’s Lichen Walk. An item for consideration will be whether to invite a representative of Liverpool CE to join the SUES Committee.