Who we are
U3A is short for ‘University of the Third Age’, which is a voluntary organisation for people who are no longer in full-time employment and who want to keep active in mind and body. Your first age of learning is the education of youth followed by the second age when working for a living and/or parenting. Retired and semi-retired people in their third age have choices at last to take charge of their own learning for pleasure and to seek the activities that interest them. Some of this can be done socially in the non-formal environment of the ‘learning co-operative’ that is U3A. Fundamental to U3A is the organising of activities by members for members to continue enjoyable life-long learning.
The ‘University’ simply implies a group of people coming together for learning, whether that learning is intellectual, practical, physical or social. Qualifications are not needed at any time and none are awarded. U3A is a self-help organisation that is open to all third agers and draws upon the knowledge, talents, skills and experience of its membership. There is therefore the opportunity to meet a very wide range of people with different personalities, backgrounds, knowledge, skills and life experiences. The ‘self-help’ ethos means little interference from outside the organisation and the opportunity for members to contribute in whatever ways they feel able. This could be from acting as a group leader or committee member, giving a presentation or organising a session to going on the tea rota or helping to move the chairs. The more active and involved you are, the more you will get out of your membership. In this organisation, older people are ‘doing it for themselves’.
What we do
Basically this is shared learning. There are 3 main ways to learn in Banbury U3A:
These develop when people come together to participate through a wide range of activities planned by the members themselves. These are interest groups rather than courses with group leaders or facilitators rather than teachers, and group members rather than students. Typically there is a wide variation in the levels of knowledge and skills within a group’s membership and many do not contain an ‘expert’ in the subject.
These are held at Banbury Rugby Club, Bodicote Park, Oxford Road, Banbury OX15 4AF, twice a month (except August) and are open to all members. The first meeting, held on the second Wednesday afternoon of the month, usually involves an outside speaker. The other meeting, held on the fourth Wednesday afternoon of the month, can be presentations by individual members, interest groups, local organisations or another kind of activity.
Magazines, Newsletters and Bulletins
Every month, our members receive a Bulletin Sheet which is sent out by email and can also be picked up at our open meetings. Our own newsletter is published in both electronic and A5 printed format when required during the year. Members also receive, posted to their homes, the magazine Third Age Matters from The Third Age Trust 5 times a year, accompanied by a second magazine Sources 3 times a year.
Membership and finances
There is one level of membership. As all U3As are self-financing, there is an annual subscription. For Banbury U3A this is £12.00 for the year from January to December, although, new members joining from July onwards pay £6.00. A renewal slip is sent out in January. The window for renewal of subscriptions is January and February and membership cards will be issued if requeted. Around £5.00 of the £12 goes to the Third Age Trust to pay for production and postage of their magazines and for a whole host of benefits including insurances, licences, legal advice, resources and website facilities. The remainder of the subscription pays for our own publications, equipment, running costs and a small subsidy for open meetings. Outside speaker fees and expenses, combined with room rentals mean that there is an additional attendance fee of £1.00 for each open meeting, although this includes a hot drink and biscuits. We are a registered charity, number 291645 but not one that raises funds. We just need to balance the books.
Members of other U3As may join one of our interest groups, subject to spaces being available. They are very welcome to attend open meetings at the standard attendance fee. Some proof of membership will be required. To gain full membership, they will be charged a reduced annual fee of £8.50, with the capitation fee to the Third Age Trust only paid once.
You may wish to download our Introductory Leaflet, written for new and potential members as a pdf file which includes the information above and so much more.