Sheffield u3a

Research and Shared Learning


Lead: Martin Harvey email harveymk@yahoo.co.uk
Gordon Dabinett email gordondabinett@gmail.com
Jo Beadle email jojobeadle@yahoo.co.uk

Projects with Partners

We proactively seek and respond to requests from postgraduates and academics for our members to participate in research projects from both our universities, as well as from organisations who need our assistance in shared learning projects where our members gain new skills or knowledge. Participating in these varied projects can be very rewarding and is generally not time consuming as many are completed online. Members need no academic qualifications, previous experience or expertise. All projects have been reviewed against the u3a national criteria. The name of each researcher is listed and they can be contacted directly, as is the name of the RSL coordinator who will endeavour to resolve any issues and hear your feedback.

Agreed Criteria:
1. Relevant to healthy or active ageing
2. Have university or NHS ethical approval and comply with TAT research ethics statement
3. Is not commercial and does not promote the services and products of other organisations
4. Is not physically, socially or mentally intrusive.

Shared Learning

U3a Online Events

U3a have a number of fascinating online events which can be accessed here.

U3A Radio Podcasts

The u3a radio podcast, showcases the amazing things happening across the movement. It’s created by a team of u3a members who all have radio experience and features interviews with members, interest group leaders, Trustees, national volunteers and Subject Advisers.

The entire series is available to listen to on our YouTube channel, and on SpotifyGoogle Podcasts and Apple Podcasts .

The team are always looking for more stories  and if you’d like to contribute click here.

Sheffield DocFest 12 – 17 June

This is the UK’s leading documentary festival and one of the worlds most influential markets for documentary projects. The festival champions and presents, the entire range of documentary form, film, television, immersive and art, at venues throughout Sheffield. Tickets are available at sheffdocfest.com or in person at The Showroom cinema. For email boxoffice@sheffdocfest.com or 03301228870

ProjectsProject Organiser
Planet Wellbeing – until July 2024

Sheffield Hallam University are looking for individuals who live independently and experience feelings of loneliness, who also have home internet access, to investigate how virtual reality can be used to improve mental health and reduce loneliness.
Participants will use digital technology to carry out basic movements to perform fun and engaging activities with other people, in virtual reality. Involvement in this project is not time consuming, requiring about one hour per week. Equipment, training and support will be provided.
For more information or clarification about this project contact n.koulidou@shu.ac.uk

To register an interest in this project please complete this online form:

The RSL link for this project is Jo Beadle.
Results of the Big Plastic Count

A quarter of million people participated in this survey which showed that UK households are throwing away 1.7 billion pieces of plastic every week! 
Watch this video results video to find out more about this shocking survey.
To see the results website.  
A study to transform an NHS wearable into a rehabilitation device – until 31 October 2024

Alexander Jakubiec, a research associate at the University of Sheffield, is looking for participants to assess the fall risk using a smart insole. The study involves a short questionnaire, followed by seven normal day-to-day activities which will take place at the university.
Members who have a medical condition that could affect their gait, eg osteoarthritis, stroke, osteoporosis, previous knee replacement etc are unfortunately unable to participate in this project.
For detailed information about this project please click on the attached participation information sheet.
If you require any clarification about this project, please email
The RSL link for this project is Gordon Dabinett
Help design digital information services – ongoing

Sheffield Hallam University Associate Lecturer Meekha Tuladhar is undertaking research with the aim to improve the design of digital information and internet services for those aged 65 and above. Her aim is to make sure that services such as, internet shopping, booking sites and online banking etc are easier to use. Participation in this research will take no longer than 5 minutes, is online by clicking https://tinyurl.com/mr2wr36p.
If you need any more are information email M.Tuladhar@shu.ac.uk
The RSL link for this project is Jo Beadle
Family Photos and Family Histories – Ongoing

This national u3a project, aims to look into the way families document their lives and experiences through photography. Comprehensive ‘step by step’ guides can be found at https://randomresources.weebly.com/26-09-23-resources.html .
Other useful websites are:
https://www.photo-consult.co.uk/about (Steve Gill, photo specialist)
https://blog.myheritage.com/2023/08/introducing-photodater-an-exclusive-free-new-feature-to-estimate-when-old-photos-were-taken/ (using AI to date photos)
https://www.knowwhowearsthegenesinyourfamily.com/blog/myheritage-new-photo-date-estimation-feature-photodater (using AI to date photos)
A Facebook group has been set up at https://www.facebook.com/groups/familiesandtheirphotos
To be added to the group mailing list to receive information about this project and notification of any Zoom meetings please email Maggy.simms@volunteer.u3a.org.uk

The recording from the last meeting can be accessed https://youtu.be/0o3MLOyTUUo

The RSL link for this project is Martin Harvey
Their Finest Hour – until December 2024

This Heritage Lottery-funded nationwide campaign organised by the University of Oxford to collect and preserve the everyday stories and objects from WW2, either from the survivors who can remember the war as children or from the next
generation who can pass on the stories handed down by their parents. As these personal stories are fast fading from living memory, it is vital to preserve them and the wartime objects that often go with them. To get involved click
The RSL link for this project is Martin Harvey

Multi-tasking and Speech – ongoing

The aim of this research is to provide a basis for future research to find new assessment and treatment methods for adults with a speech disorders caused by neurological problems. The researcher needs members who are 55 – 75 ,in generally good health, who do not have a speech impairment so that they can be compared with people who do. The research involves an individual online session with the researcher, which would take a maximum of one hour. You will carry out separate speech and hand movement tasks and then speech and hand movements simultaneously.
For more information click here or Email Tugay Senlik at Sheffield University: tsenlik1@sheffield.ac.uk
The RSL link for this project is Gordon Dabinett

Laughing Through Retirement – until August 2024
Adam Carter, a researcher at Sheffield University, is looking for 4 families with a family member who is within 6 months of retiring, or who has retired in the last 2 years who would like to contribute to a project exploring the role of humour in stressful family situations.
Each family will be involved in the project for between 1 and 2 months,The project will run until February 2024 and each family will be involved in the project for between 2 and 3 months.
Taking part involves:
– an initial conversation about the participant’s sense of humour
– a period where the family is provided with a video camera to capture any funny and/or stressful situations related to retirement,
– a follow-up interview where we look back at some of the video footage and think about how we use humour in everyday life.
For more information click here or contact Adam: adam.d.carter@sheffield.ac.uk

The RSL link for this project is Martin Harvey

Sheffield University, Healthy Lifespan Institute (HELSI) – ongoing
HELSI www.sheffield.ac.uk/healthy-lifespan aims to transform the experience of aging by developing interventions to slow down the rate of ageing to increase resilience to age related diseases. u3a Sheffield are delighted to have formed a partnership with HELSI which will enable their researchers to incorporate the experiences and expertise of u3a members. For more information about this exciting partnership click here.

The RSL link for this project is Gordon Dabinett

Recently Completed Project Updates

 Lifelong Learning Research

The conclusions of this fascinating research project with Sheffield University can be accessed here

Older People Working Part Time

Our research with Sheffield University, looking at how managers and union representatives, within the health, retail, banking and finance sectors, have managed or represented older people who work part time has recently ended. The researcher Rachel Crossdale is currently in the process of writing up her research on how workplace policy procedures affect this category of workers.

Which streets are safe to walk in at night?

This project, by Sheffield University, asked members to submit photos of streets where they felt either safe or not to walk at night.

How Local High Streets have changed

This national u3a project started in September 2020 and had three tiers of activity: surveying local shopping streets, taking photos, and identifying a local idea or ideas to explore further. The process of uploading over 24,700 photographs and data has now been completed. Sheffield U3A made a significant contribution which can be seen at Sheffield Data. This project has achieved an impressive record of our “sense of place“. To view the entire site contents click www.u3ahighstreet.co.uk.
Photo Sharing on the Internet – Differences Between Older and Younger People

This project required participants to complete a questionnaire. It is for a dissertation towards an MA Digital Media and Society. It is looking at the potentially different behaviours and motivation of younger and older people when they share photos on social media.
The researcher is Chen Zheng.