While New Zealand may have an aging population, two prominent groups for the elderly in Hastings are finding fewer and fewer people are joining and their memberships are falling.
U3A Havelock North and Senior Net Hawke’s Bay have come together and are forming a close association so that their members can take part in classes and activities either group offers.
SeniorNet provides a community learning network to support and motivate people to use technology with confidence. This includes help with all types of smartphones, Android tablets and Apple devices.
While U3A also offers computing classes with a focus on Windows systems, the group offers a wide variety of other activities and classes, from geology to art and Mahjong to lunch groups and more.
With their numbers getting smaller, the two groups have now decided to create a close association with one another that may help numbers grow again.
U3A Havelock North president Norris Kenwright explained that back in 2000 and 2001 people in their 50s and 60s didn’t know a lot about computers and at one stage he was teaching 80 people at a time how to use the evolving technology.
For years the number of people needing technological help was steady, however in recent years as people age, seniors have wanted more individual help and a drop-in centre to solve problems, especially in online shopping and banking.
SeniorNet Hawke’s Bay president Ian Brown agreed with Norris and said “we are having the same issues at SeniorNet”.
He said SeniorNet started with 105 learning centres throughout the country supporting 20,000 members and now, 17 years later, SeniorNet is down to 43 learning centres and 5000 members.
Norris started his computer journey with SeniorNet and is still a member, while also being president of U3A. He could see both groups reducing in numbers and thought it might be a good idea to form an association between the two.
With each group teaching different subjects, the two presidents thought: why not form a bond where members of SeniorNet can do U3A classes and activities and vice versa?
“So now is a great time to join either group if you have been looking for some technical help or to join in interesting activities,” Ian said.
“While technology can be a bit intimidating and make the best of us feel stupid sometimes, SeniorNet and U3A are both safe spaces to learn and make mistakes.
“We like to say there are no silly questions because whatever question you do ask other people in the group will also want to ask.”
For more information on U3A and SeniorNet check out their websites:
U3A Havelock North: http://www.u3ahavelocknorth.com/contact-us.html