Loneliness can affect anyone at any stage of life when unexpectedly separated from friends or relatives.
Founded in 1982, u3a now has around 1,000 u3as, with more than 40,000 activity groups meeting every week throughout the United Kingdom, of which there are 400,000 members. The aim is simple, to encourage those who now have more time on their hands and looking to forge new friendships to come together and enjoy a whole host of subjects, skills and activities.
The u3a Community
One of the members who has benefitted from the u3a community is Marian who can be seen in the image above (centre) attending her u3a creative writing group. She joined Saxon Shore u3a five years ago, as she had found that it was becoming harder to form friendships as she got older, especially after she found herself alone after 40 years of marriage. Marian says “My circle of friends and acquaintances has been steadily growing. From first walking into the meeting hall and not knowing a soul, I now find there’s not enough time to chat with everyone that I’ve got to know since I first joined my u3a nearly five years ago.”
Another member, Jane, joined Edinburgh u3a seven years ago after her partner died, this is what Jane says as to why she joined “I wouldn’t regard myself as lonely, because I have embraced the opportunities that u3a has to offer, and I am in effect busier than I was pre-COVID. My three main activities with Edinburgh u3a and online across Scotland are three poetry sessions, a month, a weekly French conversation meeting, and almost daily Laughter Yoga sessions. These are all on Zoom.”
Loneliness can leave people feeling isolated, but through u3a you can find joy again not only through making personal connections but also by learning whilst you do so.
Sam Mauger, CEO of the Third Age Trust, says, “The u3a brings people together so that they can find new communities and new friends. For those times of life when we struggle and feel alone, when we have moved to a new area, or are grieving or newly retired and are looking for a new beginning, the u3a is a place to start.”
If you are interested in joining the u3a, simply log on to their website at www.u3a.org.uk to see what’s on in your area.
u3a is a national learning organisation for those who have time to spare to come together to develop their interests, make new friends and have fun. There are more than 1,000 u3as spread right across the UK, with interest groups run and chosen by the members for the members. Whatever subject you can think of, a u3a will be doing it somewhere – from Walking to Talking, Geology to Genealogy, Yachting to Yoga. For a modest annual fee, you can join your local u3a giving you access to interest groups and national initiatives.