Trevor Keith and Jim Sellars have proposed a group with activities that aim to attract men who have hitherto not been drawn to U3A. Only 36% of our membership is men and this drops to 31% when attendance at groups is considered. The famed longevity of women does not begin to explain this difference. The proportions reflect a national problem: older men are much less likely to engage in social groups than women and this contributes to what has been called a “silent epidemic” of loneliness. The government has recently set up a commission, the Jo Cox Commission, to see what can be done to tackle this problem in local communities. This enterprising proposal could reasonably be seen as making a contribution.
The suggestion is to set up a “Mainly Men” group based on monthly activities. These activities would seek to offer members new experiences and visit places they would be unlikely to undertake or go to on their own. While the target group is clearly men, this would not preclude a woman who was attracted to the activities joining in.
Individual members with particular skills or experience could lead sessions. For example, someone might host a “taster” bowls session as one of the monthly activities. The hope is that such sessions would help members develop interests and pursue them more regularly.
The following suggestions have been put forward by potential members: ten pin bowling; clay pigeon shooting; footgolf; watching a local or regional football or rugby match; and visiting Tullie House Museum, York Railway Museum; a Classic Car Museum, or Threlkeld Quarry.
Each member would be encouraged to take ownership, with support, of a monthly session, proposing an activity for the rest of the group to discuss and agree. Meetings would take place monthly at the venue of the particular activity. More expensive events would be spaced out, in recognition of the fact that not all U3A members have deep pockets.
Expressions of interest are sought in the first place and if this reveals a viable group, a meeting will be organised to discuss a way forward. Please email Trevor Keith on firstname.lastname@example.org or me on email@example.com.