Dear <<First Name>>,

Happy New Year to all U3A members.

A new year always heralds new beginnings and new initiatives. We would love to hear about any new programmes and initiatives that U3As plan to become involved with in 2019.

Walking sports such as football have become very popular, and U3A Barnsley has begun a Walking Cricket group. There is a new SLP in London focusing on the Victorian sewer system which I am sure will be of interest to other U3As in cities around the United Kingdom, while Cockermouth U3A Latin American Dance Formation group has developed a video for those who may take up dance in 2019.

Whatever you are trying in 2019, do let us know and we will share  new ideas with fellow members.

With regards,
Sam Mauger
Chief Executive
In this issue...

Social Prescribing & the NHS
Transatlantic Study Group
Porthcawl Goes Back to School

News From the Trust

Update & Big Thanks

Thank you for the amazing response to the different U3A’s requests for information and support in the last newsletter.  From policy on Plastics, the Memory ,  the How to be Retired course, to helping the U3A partner with a series of Podcasts, the response has been very positive.

Anthony Young from Buckhurst Hill U3A in Essex said, “Since the article in the Newsletter on our Memory Café we have received  four enquiries from U3As as to how to set up a similar venture.

We opened our Café on 11th of January for the first time. We had a certain amount of trepidation, what if no  one came?  Well by 10.15 we had 25 people and enough volunteers – we have recruited 30.  There was singing, bingo, lots of chatter.  It was a great success - roll on next month”

Carol Ellis, from Bromley U3A said, “Thanks for including 'Learning to be Retired' piece in the December Newsletter. I am delighted to say in the 24 hours following publication, I received nine responses.

One of these was from the President of a U3A in one of the leading States in Australia who is considering promoting it throughout the State".

Social Prescribing & the NHS

Our gratitude also for the many responses the Third Age Trust has received to the article on what role the U3A movement can play in the current debate surrounding Social Prescribing.
Social prescription is for people who visit their GP but who would benefit from friendship, learning and exercise instead of drugs or medicine.
We wanted to let you know that the National NHS Website has put a link to the U3A, in the section dealing with loneliness in older people.

News on Volunteers

Regional Support Volunteers

Volunteers play an invaluable and dedicated role within each of the regions around the UK. The Regional Support Volunteer role is one of the most longstanding roles and provides an essential support network to Regional Trustees.

Recruitment for Regional Support Volunteers has recently taken place in the East of England and the South West Regions.

Those interested in the role were given training that covered the role of the Trust, the role of the Regional Trustee, the U3A guiding principles and discussions on the skills and knowledge required for Trusteeship and good governance.

Jill Nicholls Regional Trustee for the South West said, "My region covers a vast area and having the support of volunteers will make a great difference in terms of the provision of localised support from those with committee experience".

National Programme of Workshops 2019

The new National Programme of Workshops is underway with the first two workshops taking place in Chelmsford and Belfast in January.

To find out about current availability or to request a workshop in your area please visit the national website:

U3A News World Wide 

New Virtual Transatlantic Study Group

Following a notice in the U3A Magazine, Third Age Matters, a transatlantic Economist readers study group meeting was held by videoconference with twenty third-age learners from the United States and Canada as well as the UK.

The inaugural meeting this week discussed several articles from the most recent issue of the magazine including
China's economic game plan, the political situation in France and, of course, Brexit. 

According to the chair of the study group, Linda Tu, a member of Toronto's Academy for Lifelong Learning, the most enjoyable aspect was the "opportunity to exchange views with a wider base of interested persons".

This was an opinion echoed by many others in the feedback survey.

Do you want to set up something similar? For information on how Internet-based videoconferencing can be used for third-age learning contact Frank Nicholson 

An Online History Book Group?

With the recent start-up and success of a transatlantic Economist Reading Group, using videoconferencing, John Kaye from Furness U3A wants to see if U3A could do the same with history books.

The idea is to use the same videoconferencing system, Zoom, used for the Economist Readers Group, and already in use by the Trust, and meet virtually, online.

If you would like to take part in this experiment, please drop an email to John Kaye 

To read more on this story,  please go to


From Barnsley to Tawa

Barnsley U3A’s fame is spreading as it has been contacted by a U3A group in Tawa, a northern suburb of Wellington New Zealand. 
One of Tawa's members saw the Barnsley U3A Ukulele group on Youtube and sent it to members of their Ukulele group. They have now played the same  music several times. 

In her email, Barbara from Tawa said, “We started learning last year and meet each week in our public library where readers sometimes clap or jig as we play our tunes. With thanks from across the world”.

If your U3A has an international story to tell we would love to hear it.  Contact


Exchange Programme

Uppsala U3A in Sweden has offered to participate in an exchange with a U3A somewhere in the UK.
Jenny Carley, Chairman of Chester U3A and International Committee,  said, “This will be their second exchange. The last one was in 2014 and reciprocated in 2015, with the Surrey Network.

It is recommended that a programme and costs are discussed early in negotiations. On the last exchange there were twelve Swedish members who took part. This time they are looking to stay (four nights/five days) with U3A members and this would be reciprocated in Sweden at a later date to be agreed.

Uppsala is a lovely city with an ancient and famous university. The Uppsala U3A or Senior Universitet  is independent of the university but has good relations regarding use of some facilities. Its website has an English version.

The international committee regularly arrange exchange groups with U3As in other European countries. 

If your U3A/Network is interested contact

Building Partnerships

University Partnerships at Causeway U3A

Causeway U3A in Northern Ireland is developing a number of projects with Ulster University at Coleraine. 

Chairman of Causeway U3A, Dr Venie Martin said, “This is a part of the new and growing relationship that is developing.

In sport,  members had the opportunity to rekindle their interest in sport at a Subject Day using the University’s brand new sports facility. Around 60 members tried Table Tennis, Short Mat Bowling, Mini-Golf, Badminton and Soft Tennis.

Causeway U3A is running for the first time a special Cookery Course in response to members requests for learning cookery in more detail. This is hands-on as the University has a special training kitchen for food innovators.

To celebrate the Founding of the University, Causeway U3A has been invited at the end of January to assist a local sculptor, Sara Cunningham-Bell.  For more details go to

You can read this story in greater detail  the last paper edition of Sources Magazine – out with Third Age Matters Magazine on February 11th.


Film Project with the National Trust

The National Trust is working on a film project exploring people's connection to places run by the Trust and has asked if any U3A member is interested in taking part?
Interested U3A members need to have a strong connection to a place or area run by the NT, and need to be based either in the South West or the Midlands.  It would be lovely if any member chosen could also talk a little about the U3A as part of that connection to the  place. Maybe its somewhere you go to meet up with friends, or somewhere that you go to take up a new hobby.
To give you more of a sense of what they are trying to achieve below is a link to one of the films produced for the campaign.
Anyone interested please contact or telephone 02088587000 this week or next as filming begins at the end of February.

U3A’s in the Community

Porthcawl goes back to school

Porthcawl U3A in Wales has answered a call to support a project at their local school, Porthcawl Comprehensive. 

Staff wanted to set up formal ‘work’ interviews as practice for their young people in Year 12 (Lower Sixth) to acquire and fine-tune those important self-presentation skills.

Brian Thomas from Porthcawl U3A said, “To inject a touch of realism to the process of interview preparation, Porthcawl U3A conducted mock interviews with each student. 

The whole process was made to be as realistic as possible and was followed by the delivery of feedback directly to the student, helpful hints and practical advice.

To read this article in full please go to

On Twitter

The North West U3A has set up its first twitter account.  You can find them @NwU3a
National Office would really love to hear from any other U3As who are thinking about setting up a twitter account or whose U3A are already active on twitter that the national account does not currently follow.   We want to make sure we haven’t missed anyone out! If you have a U3A account please make sure you follow the national U3A @U3A_UK so we can share each other's stories.

You can get in touch with the national Communications Officer at

Lifelong learning

Walking Cricket

Barnsley U3A has made a little bit of history by setting up a Walking Cricket group – the first Walking Cricket match ever played in Yorkshire.

Mac McKechnie at Barnsley U3A said, "We had a very successful start to the first U3A Walking Cricket group. So many members, we've had to set up two groups!”

Thank you to the Yorkshire Cricket Board for their support. 

You can learn more about Walking Cricket at Barnsley U3A here 

You can read this story in full and see a short video at

1812 Radical Rising in Scotland

Members of Glasgow West-End and Paisley & District U3As are undertaking a Shared Learning Project on everything surrounding the Radical Rising in Scotland.

The Rising has been claimed as a variety of things – a nationalist rising for independence, a potential revolution, a milestone on the road to universal suffrage, or an agent-provocateur-provoked plot as a cover for savage government repression.  The project will culminate in a public workshop in 2020, the bi-centenary of the event.

John Revie from Glasgow West-End U3A said, “By involving a diverse group of researchers across Scotland and beyond, we hope to gain differing insights into the period. Why not join us and use your skills, experience, and insights?  If interested, please contact us at 

Learning Resources

Electronic Research Journals

Chris Knight from the U3A National Research Sub-Committee said, “Have you ever wished you could gain access to electronic journals publishing research papers? Have you been able to do so in the past and would like to again? Do you want to keep up to date with published research in your field(s) of interest?

We have had a steady stream of enquiries about whether it would be possible for the U3A to arrange online access either from home or through a university library, so we’ve been doing a bit of research (!) to see what the options are.

The aim would be to be able to download full text articles from a wide range of research collections.

Please email us with your experiences – we are both members of the National Research Sub-Committee – Chris Knight   and Rodney Buckland (Research Subject Adviser)"

You can read a longer version of this article in

News from the Subject Advisers

First National Study Day for Languages

The Trust is working with language Subject Advisers  Heather Westrup and Dorothy Newman to bring U3A the first National Study Day for Languages to be held on 27th March at Aston University in Birmingham. 

Heather said, “Our unique U3A language learning context means that we don’t turn away prospective learners, so small U3As need to cope with “mixed ability.  Other groups want to know how to manage without an “expert” leader. Groups at higher levels enjoy suggestions for conversation sessions while learners new to a language need ideas for retaining that all important vocabulary.  All relish the time to exchange ideas about language activities and games”.

This study day is aimed particularly at supporting U3A group convenors to share ideas and best practice. It is seen as a pilot for more such days on different subjects.

More information will be coming this month on the national website

Newsletters from the Subject Advisers

We have new newsletters produced by our subject advisers in the following subjects:
Creative Writing
Genealogy - plus reference 1 and reference 2
and some new plays for Play Reading Groups (these are Word files):
Three of Silk
Monkey Nuts
Snow White Pantomime
The latest updates and news from the national Subject Advisers are available on the Subject Advice section on the website here

Educational Events

National Events

Three exciting national events are now open for booking.  
U3A Explores Science  at The Royal Institution on  Monday 11th March 2019
The afternoon includes three talks - A Plastic Ocean - Behind the Scenes, What Made Our Universe, and Living is a Risky Business. 

Satire to Sublime: British Art from Hogarth to Turner  at The National Gallery on Thursday 21st March 2019
Find out how eighteenth and early nineteenth-century painters grappled with the rapid changes of life at that time in Britain.

Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts and Book Art at the British Library on Monday 4th February.
There are still a few places available for this event.

Each event includes Question and Answer sessions.


Regional Summer Schools

The North West Region of U3As is pleased to announce that the 2019 Summer School will be held at Newton Rigg College, Penrith from Tuesday 27th August 2019 to Friday 30th August 2019.
Find full details here

Science Network 2019

The Application Form for this event is now available on the Science Network website 
More speakers have been added to the list and a number of requests for information about the robotic challenge have been received.

The Science Network are still looking for items for the Demonstration Evening so if your Science group has produced something of interest, please get in touch with Jane Whitehead 

See full Booking details here

News from the Board

Chairman of the Third Age Trust, Ian McCannah

“The turn of the year saw a flurry of Board activity in two very significant areas.
Firstly, the Trust announced an upgrade to the Beacon management system used by nearly 300 U3As.

Following  external advice, now is the time to provide members with the latest technology available. Over the coming weeks, Beacon Users will be asked to submit their recommendations for enhancements that will allow more efficient ways of administering their very diverse activities.

All U3As have received details of the planned upgrade, and the reasons for it, scheduled to start in April next year.

Secondly, plans have been finalised for the implementation of the Trust’s medium term Development Plan. Three Working Groups have been formed to advise the Board on  Learning (in particular, the provision of more educational material digitally), Raising the U3A Profile and Developing the Movement.

It is particularly pleasing that members, with specific skills in the required areas, are in the majority on these groups. Hopefully, by the summer, the fruits of all their efforts will be available to share with the wider membership

Meanwhile, a Happy U3A New Year!”

Other News

U3A in the press

Wigan U3A features in the January edition of the magazine Local Life.  U3A is on page 36.

See it here


Well done to Comber & District U3A

Comber & District U3A opened its 2018/19 season with a very successful Open Day which attracted 35 new members.

Carol Moore from Comber U3A said, "The Open Day provides a great opportunity to showcase  wares, but also to listen to our members and others. We hope that we have captured our learning points from the day and look forward to bigger and better every year”.

Promotional Video

Cockermouth U3A Latin American Dance Formation group has released a promotional video showing the fun of dance!  The group takes part in community outreach in Cockermouth to encourage engagement in dance.

See the video here:

In Focus

Meg and Peter Hartnell, Flintshire U3A on considering U3A when relocating

"We first were aware of the U3A after meeting a recently retired friend and we joined a Walking Group and added others later. We found we had a much wider friendship group than previously.

When relocating from Marlborough to be nearer our daughter in Liverpool, we explored Cheshire and North Wales. Remembering how easily we made new friends through the U3A, we accessed the internet and discovered that Chester and Flintshire both had U3A’s.

Flintshire U3A had several walking groups which were open to join. These groups all met to start walks in or near Mold so our decision was made!

On arrival our neighbours were amazed to find we knew no one in the area, one year later they couldn’t believe how many friends we had made in such a short time!
We continue to attend the same activities plus new ones like learning Welsh!"
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