When we leave school, it marks the end of our time in compulsory education, but not the end of our learning journey. The difference is that we continue to choose to learn, not just further / higher education, but the learning we continue to do for our own enjoyment, to further our abilities, to overcome challenges, for work or simply to keep our brain ticking over.
According to the NHS website, research shows that learning throughout life is associated with greater satisfaction and optimism, and improved ability to get the most from life. Additionally, the Alzheimers Society reports that there is an increasing body of evidence to suggest that “building up cognitive reserve over life can reduce risk of developing dementia.”
With this in mind, it’s no wonder that keep learning is one of the 5 ways to wellbeing. Here are a few local organisations that enable us to continue learning in a variety of ways.
University of the 3rd Age (U3A) – Retired and semi-retired people come together and learn together, not for qualifications but for its own reward: the sheer joy of discovery! Members share their skills and life experiences: the learners teach and the teachers learn, and there is no distinction between them.
Bracknell and Wokingham College have funding to allow anyone with mild to moderate mental health issues access their community learning programme for free.
Christians Against Poverty run 8 week life coaching courses with a focus on addressing debt issues, but also touch on other aspects of life and wellbeing.
Reading Bicycle Kitchen has helped hundreds of people learn to fix their own bikes, some of whom have enjoyed it so much, have gone on to become volunteers, helping others to fix their bikes. RBK run low cost bike maintenance courses as well as drop in workshop sessions.
A number of gardening organisations such as Food4Families can help people learn gardening skills. See last week’s article on ‘take notice’ for more information on these organisations.
Reading Community Learning Centre (RCLC) offers learning opportunities to women from marginalised communities, including English, Sewing, computer skills and general introductions to living in Reading. RCLC provides a welcome space to any women new to Reading to learn something, meet people and understand more about living locally.
Learning doesn’t have to be through formal courses or learning opportunities. Simply by volunteering or taking up a new hobby, you are likely to be learning something new.
Even a board games club, like the ones run by Oxford Road Timebank at Reading Central Library (Tuesdays at 10:30am) and Battle Library (Thursdays at 10:30am) is a great way to keep the brain ticking over!
To find out more about learning opportunities, have a look at the ‘learning and skills’ page on Links to Wellbeing