Thetford U3A recognised by Norfolk County Council for work to help tackle loneliness
- Credit: Archant
Loneliness is a problem which affects thousands of people across Norfolk. But one group in Thetford has been recognised for the work it is doing to help tackle the issue.
Thetford University of the Third Age (U3A) provides opportunities to for retired and semi-retired people across the Brecks and South West Norfolk to develop their interests and continue their learning in a friendly environment.
The organisation, which has 378 members and more than 40 social and learning groups, is part of a UK-wide movement which brings together people in their 'third age'.
Lynn Ready, who founded Thetford U3A four years ago and is the current chairman, said: 'As a society one of our aims is to promote activities and groups for older people.
'We have tried offering people who are lonely a free membership for the year if they need it.
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'It is hard to help people who are lonely but we try. We have worked really hard. The hardest thing for most people is stepping over the threshold.'
Thetford U3A has been given Norfolk County Council's In Good Company Quality Mark which recognises the work being done to prevent isolation and loneliness in the county.
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An estimated 38,000 people are affected by loneliness in the county.
Roy Brame, county councillor for Thetford East, presented the award to the group.
He said: 'Thetford U3A has been granted its approval mark because it's a brilliant way for retired and semi-retired people – a group that can be very vulnerable to experiencing loneliness – to keep learning something new and making friends at the same time.'
He added: 'I have had a lot of people who have come to me to say they have been to the Thetford U3A and how much they enjoy it and how much it does help.'
The organisation has so far welcomed more than 70 new members this year and 25pc of all members come from the surrounding villages. The oldest member is aged 93.
The groups range from antiques and collectables, cookery, computing and languages.
Thetford U3A joins the Charles Burrell Centre, a community hub for business and organisations in Thetford, in being presented with the award.
For more information visit Thetford U3A