Bexley   U3A   was   formed   in   January   1992   and   since   then   has   grown   so   that   we   now   have over   500   members. The   core   of   our   association   is   formed   by   both   educational   and   leisure activities.   We   have   50   interest   groups   which   are   held   during   the   day   in   the   homes   of members   in   a   relaxed   and   informal   way.   These   groups   are   led   by   unpaid   but   enthusiastic members   who   often   have   expertise   in   the   subjects   they   have   volunteered   to   lead.   There are    no    examinations    and    no    qualifications    are    required    or    awarded.    The    range    of activities   undertaken   is   not   set,   it   continues   year   on   year   or   changes   to   reflect   the   abilities of    our    various    group    leaders    and    the    interests    of    our    members    whether    they    be academic,   cultural,   physical   or   recreational. The   emphasis   is   on   self-help,   the   pleasure   of learning   and   the   opening   up   of   new   horizons.   Members   are   expected   to   play   an   active role    in    the    running    of    our    branch    by    bringing    ideas,    skills    and    enthusiasm    to    the organisation.   We   also   run   a   range   of   social   activities   including   visits,   talks   and   walks.   A   monthly newsletter   gives   members   up   to   date   news   about   group   activities   and   social   events.   In addition   members   have   access   to   conferences,   Summer   Schools   and   Shared   Learning Projects   organised   by   the   National   Office,   Third   Age   Trust   which   also   provides   legal   and financial expertise and numerous other resources.   Bexley   U3A   is   part   of   a   worldwide   movement   which   began   in   France   in   1972   where adults    had    never    enjoyed    the    kind    of    educational    opportunities    offered    by    Local Education   Authorities   and   other   bodies   in   the   UK.   Legislation   was   passed   in   France which    directed    universities    to    make    provision    for    more    mature    people.    This    close connection   between   universities   and   the   U3A   still   applies   today   in   France   but   the   UK model   is   the   one   that   we   follow:   self-directed   learning   without   the   distinction   between teacher    and    students    where    group    leaders    simply    guide    the    learning    and    the    word ‘university’   is   used   in   its   original   sense   of   people   coming   together   to   share   and   pursue learning in all its forms.
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