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men's sheds camden

Drive to increase volunteering and community activity by people over 50

The Centre for Ageing Better will lead a review in partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport into how to enable more people aged 50 and over to contribute their time, skills and experience to their communities.

The review will focus particularly on how to increase voluntary and community activity among underrepresented groups, such as people on low incomes and those with long-term health conditions. Older people in these groups can face particular challenges to taking part, and the review will explore how best to tackle these barriers.

The review will involve calls for evidence from people with direct experience of volunteering in later life, as well as practitioners and researchers. Ageing Better will also host a series of roundtables chaired by sector leaders and experts and the review will culminate in summer next year with a set of practical recommendations to inform the work of government, funders, voluntary, public and private sectors.

People aged 50 and over already make a significant voluntary contribution to their communities and society. As well as the obvious benefits to communities of more people contributing their time, skills and experience, Ageing Better’s research shows that taking part in voluntary community activity in later life improves people’s own social connections, sense of purpose and self-esteem and life satisfaction.  Where people in later life feel valued and appreciated in their formal volunteering roles, there is evidence to suggest this contributes to reduced depression.

However, older people in lower income groups, or with long-term health conditions, are much less likely to take part – even though the evidence suggests that they have the most to gain in terms of wellbeing.

And, while there has been significant government and voluntary sector attention on encouraging young people to volunteer, including disadvantaged young people, there has been little focus on supporting the involvement of people in later life.

The announcement of the review comes as people around the world prepare to celebrate the UN’s International Day of Older Persons on Sunday, 1 October, which this year focuses on enabling and expanding the contributions of older people in their families, communities and societies at large.

Tracey Crouch, Minister for Civil Society, said:

“Volunteering has a huge impact on people’s lives. This review is creating a conversation that will hopefully result in even more opportunities for a greater number of over 50s to share their skills with others, and bring communities together.”

Dan Jones, Director of Innovation and Change at the Centre for Ageing Better said:

“We know that volunteering and helping others benefits us as well as the people we help. While many people in later life are already making a significant contribution, others are missing out. We want to understand more about how to help people on low incomes and those with long-term health conditions to contribute their time and talents in later life, including how we can help them to stay involved.

“This review will draw on the knowledge and expertise of people, organisations and sectors that are already successfully involving people aged 50 and over and help to boost participation rates amongst people who might face particular barriers and challenges. Often these individuals and the communities they live in have the most to gain.”

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