u3a - U3A Chief Executive's response to government strategy on loneliness

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Sam Mauger, U3A CEO writes letter to the national newspapers.

15 October 2018

Following the government announcement today that GPs in England are being given permission to prescribe patients "social" activities, such as dance classes, to tackle loneliness, our CEO Sam Mauger has written a letter to all the national media:

Dear Editor,

The national charity, U3A (University of the Third Age) welcomes the government announcement of a strategy to help in alleviating loneliness in older people. However the strategy does not acknowledge that U3A, since the early 1980s, has played a key role in doing just that.

U3A brings together retired (third age) people to pursue educational, social and creative interests on a self-help basis. The U3A model is low-cost, defined by participants, and learner-led. It is not dependent on state funding; it has a life and existence of its own. The emphasis is on inclusion, enjoyment and the stimulation of pursuing interests together.

In the UK there are now over 424,000 U3A members, taking part in around 10,000 different interest groups every week.

We have examples of U3As across the UK who are already working with their doctor surgeries where the GPs will be “socially prescribing” U3A to encourage their patients to re-engage with the community. No one with a local U3A needs to be lonely.

There are real dangers of loneliness and isolation in this age-group, particularly after bereavement. Research showed U3A members reported major benefits to being part of our learning model in terms of confidence, feeling supported in new communities, learning new skills, combatting loneliness and most of all, of feeling valued and enjoying life.

The U3A movement shows the value of communities of interest which are not defined by age, or by past experience, but by the experiences still to be explored.

Visiting www.u3a.org.uk will give an idea of the range of member-led activities that U3As around the country pursue and the enjoyment their members derive from them.

 

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