Heathfield & District


What motivates U3A joiners?

Last month HandD Writers’ Group turned their minds to why people join things, especially why they join a U3A.

Most of us produced a list of bullet points and we used them as the prompt for discussion. Philippa and Tim bucked the trend.

Philippa reported on the motives uncovered in sociological research. The most common reason given in one study was to achieve something that needed numbers, that an individual couldn’t achieve alone; understandable for joining a union, a pressure group, a political party, but a U3A? Perhaps not?

The second reason that emerged from research was to follow an interest or learn more about something. This one was on everyone’s list for joining a U3A.

Other reasons were more specific to the age-group: losing a partner; wanting to escape from a partner, or the hard work of caring for one.

Also noted was moving to a new area; wanting to make new friends and connections. ‘Isolation,’ said Tim, ‘Is the curse of the third age.’

The search for new contacts segued seamlessly into a need to belong; not that easy in Sussex several agreed, where you are rated an outsider unless you have lived around here for 40 years.

As well as finding like-minded people, joining an interest group is one way of establishing an identity: ‘I am a gardener; someone who loves books; a person who likes going out to dine.’ Paula noted that joining the U3A is neutral territory. U3A’s have no axe to grind unlike a political group or church. They are essentially non-judgemental. They take you at your own valuation. And another reason, we all agreed, was that when you leave the world of work you miss the routine, and having regular places to go or things to do lends structure to life.

We would really like to know your reasons for joining. What was your motive before you joined and how has it worked out? What things make belonging to a U3A valuable to you? If you have a moment please send your thoughts to Philippa, convenor of the Writers’ group: philippa.pigache@gmail.com

So, there are many reasons to join a U3A. But which group? Tim Williams resorted to verse:

Come join the Heathfield U3A
A is for Antiques and Collectables, whose creaking joints and croaking voices
Belie their wisdom and their many choices;
For instance, Book Club Chapter Two
Which you may join if Chapter One has not got room for you.
Try Cooking up a Storm, or Stitch and Chat
Where you can do some needling, and chew the fat.
If Studying Japan and Shinto
You’re not into
Try Walking, but if your legs find that a drag
Maybe to Write For Pleasure is your bag?
Or speaking French, or Stamp Collecting,
Or if green-fingered why not Gardening?
The Drama group is less dramatic now
And if you might direct it, please take a bow.
London On Foot you can explore;
Though you must get there first. And it’s a chore
Arranging coach trips. Punters say they’re keen
But on the day they are not seen.
Make ‘em pay up front what’s due.
Then they’ll turn up; that’s my view.
Canterbury was fun, or so they say.
Next April we go far away
Up north to Durham with another group.
And Lindisfarne. Is that a scoop?
With News and Views your mind may wander
If current events you don’t wish to ponder.
Perhaps the past is more your cup of tea?
If so, apply forthwith to History.
Or you can dig at Down to Earth
While waiting spring’s next verdant birth.
Mahjong can stretch your mind and make you think,
But if you much prefer a drink
Try Historic Inns of Sussex, where a bite
Proves such a great delight, especially when
A cock you’ll be mid many a hen.
Will Computing help with Windows 10?
Please note that Science and Technology is not just men.
Sussex folk oft say “I won’t be druv,”
And in the U3A it’s not “Learn, laugh and love”
But if you’ve time to give
To Heathfield U3A you’ll “Learn, laugh and live.”