Many doctors are recommending to patients who feel lonely or depressed that they should join the U3A. Val Warren of Crewkerne & District U3A, who is the Avalon representative to the South West region, emphasised the importance of the role that the U3A can help to combat loneliness, mental health problems and depression when she spoke at the network’s meeting in Castle Cary. Val said: “We have a duty of care to ensure our members can meet such challenges. Many doctors are prescribing membership of the U3A instead of taking a pill.”

There are more than 1,000 U3As throughout the UK with thousands of special interest groups, offering the chance to learn new skills and make new friends. Val said: “We have so much to offer and many people have found that joining the U3A has changed their life for the better.” Val reported on the sell-out success of the first Study Day, organised by the Avalon network and held in Crewkerne in October 2018. More than 100 members attended the talks on the Jurassic Coast and there were many who were unable to get a ticket. Val said: “Not only was it a great success but it also made a profit of nearly £500 for the network. This is an excellent resource which we can draw on to organise more study days in the future.

Val reminded U3A members attending the Avalon network meeting in the Old Market House in Castle Cary of the importance of updating information, citing for example that too often databases did not include the names of new officers appointed following an annual general meeting. Regional trustee Jill Nicholls who travelled from Cornwall to attend the meeting, reported that there are now 131 U3As in the South West which stretches from Cornwall to Gloucestershire and her aim is to meet as many of them as possible. New special interest groups to be launched by U3As in the Avalon network, comprising the six U3As of Crewkerne & District, Chard & Ilminster, Martock, Yeovil, Somerton and Camelot (Castle Cary) include aviation, wine appreciation, iPads, mobile phones, cryptic crosswords, walking football and Spanish.

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