Frequently Asked Questions
1 - What does U3A mean?
This is an abbreviation for: University of the Third Age.
2 - It’s called the University of the Third Age – do I need a degree to join?
Certainly not! Membership is open to anyone regardless of educational background. U3A is a national organisation started in this country in the 1980s. It does not offer degrees (or similar) though there is nothing to prevent members from pursuing their interest as far as they wish. For example it encourages the Open Learning concept (coordinated by the (OU) which is largely free. The National U3A, offers from time to time, a number of Shared Learning Projects (SLP) which you are able to join.
3 - So who is eligible to join U3A?
Anyone can join if they are not in full-time employment and are in their ‘third age’– that is of more mature years, when usually the responsibilities of bringing up a family have passed. There are no age limitations.
4 - What qualifications do I need to start?
None – other than acceptance of the rules associated with our Constitution.
5 - So what’s the objective?
The U3A is a group of people with skills & knowledge that are worth sharing with others of a similar mind. The aim is to share ideas and enthusiasms with each other on a mutually cooperative basis. A core aim is to LEARN, LAUGH AND LIVE and have fun.
6 - Is there a goal?
To keep our bodies, brains and other faculties fully functional, through activities (both physical and mental) that involve others of a like mind.
7 - I am registered disabled. Will I still be able to become a member of the Stanford-le-Hope and District U3A and join in the various activities?
There is no reason why anyone registered as disabled can’t join the Stanford-Le-Hope and District U3A. The hall at "The Springhouse" where the main meetings are held, has disabled access and facilities for anyone with mobility difficulties. Spaces can be made available for wheelchair users or others with walking problems or are hard of hearing or partially sighted. As for joining in activities, that will depend on the nature of the activity involved, and the venue where that activity takes place. If you think this may be an issue, it’s probably best to raise it with the group leader to clarify the position.
8 - I am registered disabled and would need a carer to accompany me to meetings or events. Do we both have to pay to join U3A?
In such cases, persons registered as disabled would be charged, but we would waive the subscription for the carer, on the basis that they could only attend meetings and events when accompanying the disabled person. They would NOT be allowed to take part in any of the activities or discussions that may take place. Otherwise they would have to pay the full amount to join in the same way as any other member. Proof of the registered disability (and need for a carer) would be required.
9 - How does it all work?
We have a formal meeting 11 months of the year and usually there is a visiting speaker on a topic of general interest. Additionally there are various groups that meet and operate in places of their own choice. These are all self- financing.
10 - I am not very keen on formal meetings.
The monthly general meeting is quite friendly and informal but you do not have to attend. Most members do attend if only to meet and hear our visiting speaker(s) and enjoy a bit of gossip and light refreshments.
11 - The 'Interest Groups', what do they do?
Just click on the ‘Groups’ tab at the top of the page – you’ll see that there is a range of things to get involved in. If there is something which you would like to partake in which doesn’t feature, you might want to consider starting up a group yourself. We can help you do that if you are interested. Talk or email our Interest Groups’ Co-ordinator or a Committee Member with your idea. You are welcome to drop in to see any of the activities if you contact the Group Leader first.
12 - Do I have to join any Interest Groups?
Not if you don’t want to, although if you don’t you could be missing a great opportunity to meet old and new friends and do something that really takes your fancy. There are always the main meetings, which take place at 2:00pm on the 2nd Thursday of each month, at the "The Springhouse", Corringham. Most months, a speaker is invited to talk to us on any one of a variety of interesting and topical themes.
13 - How do I join an Interest Group?
There are a number of ways to do this. You can attend one of the main meetings, when each interest group may have a display to show what’s coming up – and then you can meet the group leader and register your interest. You do need to be a paid-up member of Stanford-Le-Hope and District U3A to join an interest group. Alternatively you can contact the group leader directly, or get in touch with the Interest Groups Coordinator. Click on the ‘GROUPS ’ tab at the top of this page to get their details. Details are also available in our regular Newsletter.
14 - Suppose I want to take part in an exotic event; like Tai Chi?
The reason why an activity does not exist is usually that we have not identified enough people who want to do it. There is no objection to almost anything being started (assuming it’s legal). It only needs a few keen participants plus a willing leader (or coordinator).
15 - If I go on a Day Trip can I bring my Spouse, Partner or Friend?
On all Stanford-le-Hope and District U3A trips, members of our U3A get priority. If the trip has to be opened up to others because there are spare places, members of other U3As who have asked to go will be offered a place before non-members. Non-members (including spouses and partners) can only go on our trips/outings on two occasions in total. Exceptions will be made for official carers.
16 - How can my Spouse, Partner or Friend join in your U3A Trips and activities?
If your spouse/partner/friend has gone on two of our trips/visits and wants to go on more why not try to persuade them to become a member? This would allow them to go on as many of our visits they want to.
17 - Why does your U3A not offer more choice of groups to appeal to my Spouse, Partner or Friend?
If the reason they have not joined already is that the interest groups we offer are not appealing to them – find out what activity they would be drawn to and mention the suggested group to our Interest Groups’ Co-ordinator or a Committee Member. We could then find out if any of our members would be interested in the group and get them together. As few as two members can form an interest group if large numbers in a group situation are a problem for someone or only a couple of people are tempted to join.
18 - Is this a Government initiative?
NO. The U3A is totally independent of political & religious influences. Each local group is autonomous in its own right, although we try to adhere to the general principles laid down by our parent body, The Third Age Trust.
19 - So, who controls it?
You do. You elect the Executive Committee. We decide our own programmes and finance them ourselves from our own efforts.
20 - This all sounds rather expensive!
Our annual subscription will be £15 from the 1st April 2018. This covers affiliation fees to the Trust, plus the legal cover that is required when groups of people meet.
You also get mailed a glossy magazine, "Third Age Matters", published in February, April, June, September and November and our own printed "Newsletter" eleven months of the year. You can opt NOT to receive the 'Third Age Matters' magazine by selecting the option on the Membership Application and Renewal form. New members joining in February and March before the April 1st renewal, will pay the £15 and will qualify for 13 or 14 months membership for their first year.
21 - What do we pay if me and my spouse/partner both join?
We all pay the same annual subscription of £15 You will receive one 'Third Age Matters' magazine to your address. You can opt NOT to receive the 'Third Age Matters' magazine by selecting the option on the Membership Application and Renewal form.
22 - What happens if I want to join mid-way through the year?
The membership year runs from 1st April through to 31st March the following year. Irrespective of when you join, the Annual subscription fees are as specified in 20 above.
23 - I am already a member of another U3A group – can I join the Stanford-Le-Hope and District U3A?
Yes, you can but you will have to pay the annual subscription fee described in 20 above.
24 - Why do I have to pay towards the National U3A – and what is this Third Age Trust?
The Third Age Trust is the national representative body for U3A's in the UK. It is both a limited company and a registered charity. It underpins the work of local U3A's by providing educational and administrative support to their management committees and to individual members, as well as assisting in the development of new U3A's across the UK. U3A's are independently managed charitable associations with their own constitutions. Membership of The Third Age Trust is a requirement in order to use the U3A name and logo, both of which are protected. Once registered, providing the aims and guiding principles of the organisation are adhered to, local U3A's are self-governing.
25 - So, it is very cheap?
True, but when we hire halls, coaches, visit theatres or invite external experts to address meetings or groups there are charges that need to be met. Participants are charged nominal sums to help offset these costs (the monthly general meetings are exempt from these extras).
26 - I am already a member of another U3A group – can I join the Stanford-Le-Hope and District U3A?
Yes, you can but you will have to pay the annual subscription fee described in 20 above.
27 - If I am already a member of another U3A, does that mean I will be entitled to attend any of the groups run by Stanford-Le-Hope and District U3A?
No. You have to be a member of the Stanford-Le-Hope and District U3A to attend our meetings and take part in our activities.
28 - If I am a member of Stanford-Le-Hope and District U3A, can I join in activities in other local U3A organisations which I might join?
It will depend on circumstances. You would need to check with those people running the activities in the other U3A of which you might be a member.
29 - Do you do ‘taster’ sessions?
No. However, you are welcome to come to any of our meetings twice and see what goes on.
Thank you for your interest in the Stanford-Le-Hope and District U3A. If you are not already a member, please come and join us at our next general meeting which can be found by clicking here EVENTS or the "EVENTS" Tab at the top of the page.