Many people still ask “What is the U3A”? The University of the Third Age (U3A) is a nationwide, and indeed international, organisation that promotes learning in a relaxed and social context for older or retired people.
There are over a thousand branches in the UK alone and Rye has its own branch formed nearly twenty years ago. One of the mottos of the U3A is “Live, Learn, Laugh” and this very much typifies the local branch too.
We hold monthly meetings with an invited speaker on almost any subject you may care to mention, and recently there have been presentations on subjects as diverse as the Peterloo Massacre, Venezuela, mindfulness and the artist Sir Anthony van Dyck. These are for all members and lately of course have been taking place via the Zoom facility.
In addition there are special interest groups that typically meet once a month at a set time (say second Wednesday mornings or third Friday afternoons) in which you can socialise at the same time as learning about a new subject of interest.
A wide range of groups
Among the groups available at Rye at present are music, poetry, history discussion, Scrabble, art appreciation, theatre appreciation, quiz evenings, book groups, creative writing, current affairs, military history, Spanish language, French, wine, cider and beer appreciation, while outside meeting groups include walking and wildlife / bird watching.
The coordinators of some of these groups have been able to move on to Zoom and continue their monthly meetings. One group of particular pertinence during this lockdown period is MOTO which stands for “members on their own”. This is very much a social group and although not being able to meet in person this group may help some people to feel less isolated during the pandemic.
Annual membership at just £14 is good value and entitles members to attend any general meeting and to join any, and even many, of the special interest groups of their choice. And all these groups are “self-help” in that it is not important that the leader has to be an acknowledged expert at the subject.
Bring back the tea and cakes
It is enthusiasm that counts and in the groups we all learn together and at the same time have a great deal of chat, of fun, of socialising. In any two-hour meeting, at least half an hour must be spent chatting and making the most of tea and cakes! Well – we can of course dream of the future post coronavirus.
If there is a subject in which you are interested why not join the U3A and, if a subject you would like to know about is not available, then join to start a new special interest group yourself.
For membership please apply to our membership secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org. U3A is still managing to carry on many of its activities in spite of Covid-19 restrictions – do come and join us.
Image Credits: Kenneth Bird .