Like so many things, it’s not clear what ways there are that we can use to keep groups going, but we’ve set up this page to gather together your suggestions and to let you know of any we come across.
Note that the following is a collection of personal experiences/suggestions. The u3a doesn’t officially recommend any of these services.
The system provided by Whypay might be worth looking at if you think you could conduct meetings via telephone conferencing. There’s no charge to use the system in its basic form; you create a room and you are given a code that identifies the room and a pin to enter it. After that, anyone with the code and the pin can enter the room via Whypay’s 0300 number. 0300 numbers cost the same as 01 and 02 numbers and are included in free and bundled minutes. The advantage here is that any member who has a phone, landline or mobile, can join in. The downside is that members who don’t have bundled deals might find this expensive; moving meetings to evenings or weekends might mitigate this as more people have free calls then.
The u3a has created a help sheet for this
Works on: Smartphone and Windows and Apple PC (text only on PC)
Gives you: Instant text, voice and video calls. You can video chat with multiple people at once.
Cost: The app if free as are all calls as long as you are on broadband.
What do I need? You must have broadband for this to work practically.
How difficult is it? Medium. You have to install the app and you might need to add friends phone numbers to it, though it’s pretty good at finding those on your contacts list.
How do I get it? Google Play or Apple Store depending on your smartphone phone type. For the PC version go to https://www.whatsapp.com/download
Works on: Smartphone and Windows and Apple PC
Gives you: Video conferencing for up to 4 people
Cost: Free with broadband
What do I need: PC, smartphone or tablet, broadband, PC needs webcam and microphone.
How difficult is it? Easy. One person goes to https://whereby.com/ to sign up (just email required) and creates a room. They send a link to the room to whoever they want to join them. Clicking that link puts you straight into the room.
How do I get it? Just go to https://whereby.com/
Zoom offers free video conferencing and messaging across any device, with up to 100 participants (with a 40 minutes time limit on meetings with three or more total participants), and unlimited 1:1 meetings.
A guide prepared by the national office to help u3as create an account and set up a meeting in Zoom using a phone or tablet.
Zoom (Phones and Tablets)
A guide prepared by the national office to help u3as to create an account and set up a meeting in Zoom using a Desktop PC.
Other systems are available and if you have experience of any, please comment below.