Still Open for Learning during the Coronavirus Outbreak

HGS U3A, serving Hampstead Garden Suburb and adjoining areas in North-West London, offers a wide range of informal learning activities for retired and semi-retired people. Our activities range from drawing and wine appreciation to current affairs, languages, and lots more. Many of our interest groups are still open for learning online using resources, such as Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp, and email or telephone.

Coping Strategies during the Coronavirus: a new group led by psychologist and cognitive behavioural therapist Pauline Drizen meets online every fortnight on Tuesday evening.

As a u3a*, we are one of more than 1,000 locally-run interest groups in the UK for people no longer in full-time employment to come together to learn for fun. There are no restrictions on age or range of interests. HGS U3A is a non-religious and non-political charity (registered number 1182530) based on principles of self-help learning and mutual aid.

* originally called the University of the Third Age, now simply u3a.

There’s no need to feel isolated during lockdown. Meet new friends and pursue new interests with like-minded people online. We’re determined to resume our full range of activities as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Keep in touch with other members by joining the private HGS U3A Facebook Group.

New Members

HGS U3A welcomes new members. The subscriptions for the current membership year ending 31 August 2021 are £30 for Individual members (£32 if paying by cheque) and £50 for two people at the same address (£52 by cheque). Download the application form.

Learn & Enjoy

Take a look at the wide range of activities we offer (A–Z list of active groups). Please note that most activities have modified their programmes during the Coronavirus pandemic — more than 40 groups still meet on a regular basis through online technology.

Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with Zoom and similar technology. We’ll show you how easy it is to use.

Arts & Crafts

Can’t draw but want to try? Now’s your chance to learn. Or maybe you’re a dab hand with the paint brush. Join others with similar skills and interests. We’ve also groups for knitting, crochet work, patchwork, and even stained glass.  See all our arts & crafts activities. Some groups meet virtually online.

Computers, Science & Technology

We run occasional workshops to help members deal with computers and other digital technology. For more information, visit the Computers, Science & Technology page. Online help is available.

Current Affairs

HGS U3A has three lively groups that discuss current affairs, plus another dedicated to the hot topic of climate change. All groups are meeting regularly online using Zoom.

Economics & Finance

Our Share Watch group discusses the performance of FTSE 100 companies. But there’s no danger of losing your shirt. There’s no money involved unless individual members decide to invest outside of the group at their own risk.

Fitness & Wellbeing

As we get older, it’s important to remain as fit and active as we can. Some groups are currently paused because of the pandemic, but we have online sessions for gentle exercise and mindfulness.

Food & Drink

It may be some time before we can resume our monthly Sunday lunch at a local restaurant to meet old friends and make new ones. But the wine appreciation group is continuing with limited activities. See the food and drink section.

Fun, Games & Puzzles

In normal times, we have several bridge groups for players of different levels of ability. Currently, we have a Zoom session for beginners and a more advanced group using Bridge Base Online. There’s also a very popular Quiz Night.  Or maybe you’d like to wrack your brains over cryptic crosswords? See fun,  games and puzzles.

History & Humanities Tower of London

This eclectic section offers an insight into the history of London, an introduction to psychology, and even help with decluttering. There’s also a supportive group for carers, and discussion of travel. See the history and humanities page.


Don’t be shy about dusting off your knowledge of French, German, or Italian. We’ve also got Hebrew (Ivrit) and Yiddish discussion groups. Or how about learning Latin? See the languages that HGS U3A has to offer. All language groups are still meeting regularly online using Zoom or Skype.

Literature & Writing

Portrait of William Shakespeare

As well as discussing Shakespeare, poetry, and modern classics, our literature and writing section offers play reading and a creative writing group. Most of these activities are continuing online using Zoom.

Music, Cinema & Theatre

Come along and sing online, or maybe you prefer to listen to musicals or jazz. See the range of activities HGS U3A offers to music, theatre, and film lovers.

Outdoor Activities Members of the wine appreciation group at Denbies vineyard

In normal times, we have three walking groups that cater to different tastes. We also organize outings to places of interest further afield. We hope to resume these activities as soon as government guidelines permit. Although the photography group is unable to go on joint photo shoots, members are sharing photos on set themes online every week. See all our outdoor activities.

What our Members Like about HGS U3A*

  • “I’m doing things that I was too embarrassed to do before”
  • “Learning and social development”
  • “Expert teaching, caring and friendly leader”
  • “Camaraderie”
  • “Mentally challenging and meeting like-minded people”
  • “Professionally run. Charming and interesting people”
  • “Thoroughly enriching — am so pleased to have joined”
  • “Appreciate the time and effort organisers put into making the group event a success”
  • “Inspiration and commitment from leader”

* Taken from a Member Survey


There is a search facility on this website on the Groups, Meetings and Events and News sections.

Make a donation

We welcome donations, both financial and physical such as Bridge tables. If you wish to make a donation please contact our Chair.

The Principles of the u3a Movement

The u3a movement is non-religious and non-political and has three main principles:

View Principles

The Third Age Principle

  • Membership of a u3a is open to all in their third age, which is defined not by a particular age but by a period in life in which full time employment has ceased.
  • Members promote the values of lifelong learning and the positive attributes of belonging to a u3a.
  • Members should do all they can to ensure that people wanting to join a U3A can do so.

The Self-help Learning Principle

  • Members form interest groups covering as wide a range of topics and activities as they desire; by the members, for the members.
  • No qualifications are sought or offered. Learning is for its own sake, with enjoyment being the prime motive, not qualifications or awards.
  • There is no distinction between the learners and the teachers; they are all u3a members.

The Mutual Aid Principle

  • Each u3a is a mutual aid organisation, operationally independent but a member of The Third Age Trust, which requires adherence to the guiding principles of the u3a movement.
  • No payments are made to members for services rendered to any U3A.
  • Each u3a is self-funded with membership subscriptions and costs kept as low as possible.
  • Outside financial assistance should only be sought if it does not imperil the integrity of the u3a movement.