Wantage & Grove


Good News from Wantage and Grove U3A

As early as April, led by the Chair Lyn Toms, the Committee of the Wantage and Grove U3A held virtual meetings to address the problem of its cessation of activities due to the Covid 19 lockdown.

There was a sense of urgency to connect with its members, after all, the essence of the U3A (University of the Third Age) is to promote lifelong learning based on skills sharing, mutuality and inclusion for those who have retired. Friendship and self worth are often the result of the activities shared. For some, the activities are a lifeline.

Until lockdown, the membership had been able to meet up in Grove Church Hall to participate in and listen to talks, watch films, enjoy visits and holidays and meet in each other houses to share experiences and skills. All of these face to face activities had stopped. This situation can be especially hard for some of the U3A membership, many of whom are over 70 years, living alone or in the ‘very vulnerable’ group and finding themselves in ‘self isolation’.

‘As someone living on my own, without family living locally, this (the U3A virtual programme) has made lockdown more bearable, and has given me structure to my week, so a very big Thank you.’ says Liz, one of the members.

In early June, with the expertise of some very computer savvy committee members, especially Andrew Gregory and Sue Bailey, Wantage and Grove U3A was one of the first groups to get ‘up and running’ electronically, contacting and involving as many members as possible. Now Wantage and Grove U3A provides the opportunity for members to hear and participate in regular talks through Zoom, (and some quizzes). The Gardening, Philosophy, Music Makers and Literature special interest groups are meeting this way too. Some members were reluctant at first, but practice ‘Zoom’ sessions were offered which encouraged many.
The last speaker presented a fascinating talk on the artist Paul Nash and his connection with the Wittenham Clumps through ‘Zoom’; he praised the professional handling of the meeting. There are more virtual talks and special interest ‘meetings’ planned for the foreseeable future as restrictions continue. Weather permitting, walkers and gardeners (virtual gardening for those unable to attend personally) can actually meet up now the restrictions are easing, following government guidelines, of course.
‘Keeping in touch and being stimulated is key to having a happy and active retirement.’
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