Founded in 1981, u3a is a UK-wide collection of locally-run interest groups that provide a wide range of opportunities for men and women no longer in full-time work to come together and to enjoy sharing interests, learning new things and meeting new friends. There are now 1,039 u3as with over 430,000 members, and Henley was one of the first and has a thriving membership and programme.
u3a is a charity, non-religious and non-political, and no qualifications are required to become a member. Membership of the u3a Henley currently costs just £15 per annum. It attracts people who enjoy exploring new interests, skills and activities together, thereby making friends, feeling more part of the local area, and having fun. From Walking to Talking, Geology to Genealogy, Current Affairs to Supper Clubs, Yachting to Yoga – the variety and opportunities are endless, and all are run by members wishing to share their knowledge with fellow members.
Henley’s u3a has members enjoying activities of 22 interest groups (including film, gardening, photography and table tennis), 7 all-subject talks and 11 art talks each year – all the latter are currently watched via Zoom internet technology with very encouraging attendance at each. The added value is the link to over 30 groups via the “Thames Valley Network”.
The Henley u3a is “administered” by a committee of members who cover a wide range of roles ensuring its success. They are all volunteers and the group is self-funded, with all effort made to keep costs low. All committee members are friendly and approachable and welcome suggestions and feedback. They hope to make the members feel they are part of something that’s doing them good and it’s important to know that the decision about what to include is made by the members for the members, the main aim being the value of experiences still to be explored, to add to those already absorbed by age and past occupation.
Despite the pandemic, Henley u3a has determinedly confirmed its 2021 lectures programme, and the list can be found on their website: u3asites.org.uk
For the time being the lectures will continue to be presented by video using Zoom.