Congleton & District U3A

Charity No. 1076203

Welcome to our U3A website

If you are a new visitor to this site you are very welcome to browse the website to see the group activities, monthly speaker meetings and outings that are organised for our members. If you wish to join our branch of the U3A then click the "Join the U3A" link on the left of the screen and provide the details requested, our membership secretary will contact you in due course.

If you are a member and new to this site you will have been sent your membership number together with a password that you can use to log in to the members facilities within the website. We advise that once you have logged in on this first occasion you should change your password to something memorable to you.

What Is U3A ? The full title of the organisation is "University of the Third Age" although it is not linked to universities nor is it academically based. U3A groups around the United Kingdom are members of the Third Age Trust. The object of the U3A is to advance education and, in particular, the education of people not in full-time gainful employment who are in their 'third age', and to enable the sharing of educational, recreational and creative activities and companionship. Each U3A has its own constitution, and runs its affairs in accordance with the wishes of the local membership.

How Is U3A Run ? Congleton U3A is a self-help organisation run by the members and co-ordinated by members who have volunteered to be Group Leaders. Group Leaders pass on their knowledge, skills and enthusiasm and provide opportunities for members to contribute and learn from one another. The Committee manage the affairs of the organisation and are elected by the members at the Annual General Meeting. Congleton & District U3A was formed in 1998 and membership now stands at approximately 1,400.

Who Can Join ? Congleton U3A is a non-discriminatory organisation, principally for people in their 'third age' not in full time work and there is no age limit. Activities are aimed at mature people who wish to share in educational, recreational and creative activities and companionship. No qualifications are required or are given.

Where Do U3A Members Meet ? There are a variety of locations in Congleton including the St John Ambulance HQ on West Road, Congleton Leisure Centre, The New Life Church and the Worrall Street Scout Headquarters.

How Much Does It Cost ? From now until the end of the 2018 academic year, the membership fee is £20.  For those already a member of another U3A organisation for 2017-18, the fee to join Congleton U3A is £16.50. Additional fees may apply to Groups using facilities at certain locations. The U3A year starts in September and runs through to May/June each year.  A number of Groups continue to meet over the summer months.

By joining Congleton U3A, you will receive a very warm welcome and be certain to make many friends. So, why not click on this link to the Welcome page and see what we have to offer ?  We look forward to meeting you. 

A Brief History of the U3A, a Worldwide Organisation

U3A  The University of the Third Age began in France in 1972 at the University of Toulouse to improve the quality of life for older people by bringing them into contact with studies run by the University; hence the name.  The Third Age is a recognised semi-retired or retired period in one’s life where the person is neither dependent on others (First Age), working (Second Age) or dependent in old age (Fourth Age).

U3A didn’t begin in Britain until 1981 at Cambridge University. The original French model was changed with a deliberate emphasis away from academia to develop a self-help organisation and to promote personal achievement and fulfilment, not least of all in friendly and sociable environments.

There are now over 1000 U3As across the UK with more than 390,000 members.

All U3As are charitable bodies, run by volunteers under the umbrella of the Third Age Trust and answerable to the Charities Commission.  Each group pays an amount per member to the National body which in turn provides legal help, arranges an Annual Conference, runs Summer Schools and provides various materials for courses and promotions.

The main aims of the U3A are :

* to encourage older people no longer in full time employment to share their personal skills and knowledge with others;

* to ensure that where possible a U3A exists for their benefit;

* to maintain that qualifications are not required and are not given by the U3A

Our Congleton U3A was started by local resident Elizabeth Hallam.  Her husband Ken had joined the Alsager U3A but any courses that interested Elizabeth were on days when she was not available!  She also noticed that nobody from Congleton had enrolled there and so she came up with the idea of starting a U3A in Congleton.  She contacted various people and organisations in the town, raised funding to enable a steering committee to be formed and after a great deal of work and careful planning a first public meeting was held in the Town Hall on 9th September 1998.

One hundred and twenty people attended that meeting and pledged support for the new U3A, which began approximately one month later.  Over one hundred people enrolled and there were nineteen groups offered.  Elizabeth Hallam (now our Life President) became the first Chair of Congleton U3A.

From then on, Congleton U3A has continued to grow and is now one of the largest groups in the country, having approximately 1400 members and over 100 different activities/trips/holidays on offer. With ongoing support from all its members, old and new, Congleton U3A should continue to grow and prosper.

Page last updated : 27 May 2018



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