The University of the Third Age, or u3a, is an international movement which began in France in the 1970s and spread internationally, reaching the United Kingdom in the 1980s. In France it remains primarily educational but in this country it became a broader self-help group for retired and semi-retired people. The UK network now comprises over 1000 u3as, with a total membership of over 400,000. Each u3a is an independent charity with links to a national umbrella body, the Third Age Trust. The Trust has launched the first “u3a day”, originally to have taken place in 2020 but postponed to Wednesday 2 June 2021. Its aim is to promote awareness of the u3a; to help challenge negative perceptions of older adults; and to invite other Third Agers to learn how u3a supports the lives of older adults.
Dulwich & District u3a was founded as recently as 2015 but already has some 700 members and 90 interest groups covering a broad range of interests from art, astronomy, birdwatching, boules and cryptic crosswords to table tennis, ukulele playing, walks and Zumba gold. Some of the groups have had to suspend their activities during the pandemic, but many have continued to operate via Zoom. And our open meetings with a guest speaker, normally held monthly, have continued on Zoom with two meetings in most months. You can learn more at our website https://u3asites.org.uk/dulwich/home. COVID-19 restrictions limit what we can do on 2 June but we shall have a stall in the garden of Dulwich Picture Gallery – do come along to find out more! And our creative writing group will be reading outside Forest Hill Library.
In 2020 the Third Age Trust updated its branding, so the logo no longer includes the words “University of the Third Age”, but instead “learn, laugh, live” – a good summary of the range of our activities.