Here in Maidenhead, we have over 600 members and 73 group activities running each month. However, firstly, we would like to share with you a recent review of the country’s biggest organisation of volunteers – U3A (The Third Age Trust). The U3A is for retired people.
There are now 1,028 U3As in the UK with over 420,000 members. The focus of the report was on the impact of confidence, mental health, building friendships and communities. To summarise some of the benefits:
- a sense of purpose;
- the social elements of friendship and support – feel healthier, feel valued. Creative and physical activities could improve mental health and wellbeing (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence – NICE);
- learn new skills;
- manage life changes, retirement, illness or bereavement;
- build confidence;
- the wish to offer something meaningful in retirement.
Some members felt a key added benefit of participation was giving. This giving was perceived to be a key part of keeping healthy, living well and living longer.
“I started with serving the tea – people remember you as the guy or girl who served the tea – then you can progress to the committee. You need to ask yourself, have you made a difference?
How often do we plan for our retirement? Sometimes this is quite daunting. When you have been so used to work colleagues and getting up at the same time every day; this can come as a shock to your system. Don’t allow this to become an empty bubble or feeling like a bereavement.
“I didn’t have to get up and there were no bells and duties. I took my dog for walks, redecorated, cleaned, more walks, shopping, and then looked objectively at what was I doing … I missed the daily exchanges, a good chat, a bit of a laugh”
he impact of a bereavement was often given as a reason to join the U3A particularly if this followed a long period of informal care and support.
Friendship and feeling connected to others is a truly valued benefit. Strong friendships have made a substantial difference particularly through difficult events.
“I have had a knee operation and three months after I got seriously ill …. The closer U3A friends supported me, brought me cards, but everyone else asked how I was, checked that I was OK”
Try New Skills and Interests
The stimulation of learning something together enables people to look at subjects from different perspectives. We suggest to people try something you have never done before. Or perhaps you want to go back to something you did when you were younger. There are so many groups to choose from in the U3A.
“Being part of the group makes me happy …. Learning and interacting with others gives me a lot of satisfaction”
Each month, most U3A’s hold a meeting for all of their members. In Maidenhead we hold our monthly meeting on the second Tuesday in the month at SportsAble. The time is 2.30 pm.
As mentioned before, in Maidenhead we have over 73 groups running in the district. These groups are held at people’s home during the day or at an external venue depending on how large the group is. The groups range from French to Russian, bridge to carpet bowls, military to family history, science to aviation, classical music to jazz, art to card making, walking to garden visits and many others. Our annual subscription is only £16.00. Why not come along to one of our monthly meetings and see what we are all about?
Let’s make sure everybody knows about us.