TO the delight of its 12,000 members across Scotland, 2 June 2021 marks the first-ever ‘u3a Day’.
It celebrates the achievements of older, mainly non-working adults, now learning a new skill or taking up a hobby as part of a community u3a.
Since the pandemic, going online to enjoy various groups and activities has become the new norm. Many volunteers, who run the country’s network of 54 self-help learning co-operatives, switched to video conferencing to stay connected.
This hybrid model is set to offer a future choice of web-based or face-to-face meetings once restrictions lift. Indeed, Scotland is now first in the UK to offer nationwide u3a sessions online.
Scottish u3a trustee, Ann Keating, explained: “We owe a huge thank you to all our committees and to our members for quickly adapting to different technologies. This has enabled many older adults to maintain the social side of learning new things together.
“Volunteers Week 2021 is like no other given the challenges presented by Covid-19. The u3a motto is ‘learn, laugh, live’. So while the pandemic brought travel bans, shielding and stay at home regulations, it’s also led to a brand new complementary learning platform. u3a: Online Across Scotland is the result. With over 20 subject groups already, from archaeology to write that play, members can try topics not available locally and interact from home.”
Some Scottish u3as, including Duns & District, East Renfrewshire, Perth and Wigtownshire, have various events planned to promote u3a Day. Others intend to launch a wider programme of activities this autumn, and raise awareness of what’s on offer locally to the public.
Research shows that u3as contribute to positive ageing and can reduce social isolation. For the newly-retired, u3as offer a way to meet others and learn together for fun, not a qualification. Volunteers can also share their skills and experience by leading a group.
Notes for editors:
1. u3a Day is Wednesday 2 June 2021. It takes place during Volunteers Week (1-7 June). The ‘Learning not lonely’ (2018) report researched the benefits of the u3a learning model: https://u3abrand.org.uk/catalogue/item/learning-not-lonely-report
2. u3a: Online Across Scotland (OAS) was initiated in 2020 in response to the pandemic and government regulations concerning public meetings. This new u3a enables people to learn and to enjoy social activities in online groups. It suits those who cannot attend local u3a events in person because of health or travel issues, or where no local u3a or a specific interest group exists. Visit: https://u3asites.org.uk/onlineacrossscotland/home Or contact Scottish u3a trustee Ann Keating on 07757 976936.
3. Scotland has 54 community u3as which form part of an UK-wide and international educational movement. Hundreds of volunteers lead these self-help learning co-operatives for semi and fully-retired people, or those who are unable to work. For volunteer/member interviews: ask PR advisor Allana Parker, on 07483 820027 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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