Over £270,000 in funding for projects to find better ways of supporting and recruiting older volunteers
The Centre for Ageing Better and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) have given funding to five projects to make volunteering more age-friendly and inclusive.
Each of the five projects received just over £50,000 to explore ways to support voluntary and community activity by people aged 50 and over who are less likely to formally volunteer.
The Centre for Ageing Better has awarded £250,000 of Government funding to five projects to pilot, develop and share new approaches to age-friendly and inclusive volunteering.
The projects in North Yorkshire, Oxfordshire, East Sussex, Kent and London each received just over £50,000. They will use the funding to develop good practice approaches that will help to promote and sustain the efforts of people over 50 who might face challenges to being involved in formal volunteering roles or who help their friends and neighbours in other ways that may not be recognised. DCMS contributed £250,000, with additional money from Ageing Better bringing the total to £272,260.
The awards follow a competitive process in which nearly 200 charities across England bid for the funding. Projects awarded funding are:
- 'Good Friends for All', a funded community good-neighbour initiative from Age UK North Craven
- ‘Late Spring’, an Age UK Oxfordshire project supporting bereaved people to take up volunteering opportunities
- ‘Hastings Age-friendly Volunteering’, which will establish a group of champions to inspire people of all ages to volunteer
- 'From Supported to Supporter', a project that supports people receiving help from volunteers into becoming volunteers themselves
- 'Growing Connections’, which engages older volunteers in community gardens across London to grow food
Supporting volunteering in later life
The fund was launched following ‘Age-friendly and inclusive volunteering’, a review of community contributions in later life, conducted by the Centre for Ageing Better in partnership with the Office for Civil Society in DCMS. It found that many older people face barriers to taking part or staying involved, which can get worse if their circumstances change, particularly for those who are less financially secure, have poorer health or come from certain BAME backgrounds.
In its review, the Centre for Ageing Better called on charities, voluntary organisations and the public sector to do more to support volunteering in later life, especially in groups less likely to volunteer. Stronger action is needed to enable people to take part in activities that matter to them and stay involved as they get older or undergo major events like ill health, bereavement or caring for loved ones.
The review identified six principles of age-friendly and inclusive volunteering that the projects will test. Volunteering should be flexible and responsive, enabled and supported, sociable and connected, valued and appreciated, meaningful and purposeful, and make good use of people's strengths.
The Centre for Ageing Better will work with the charities and provide additional funding to document and evaluate their projects so that others can learn from and replicate successful approaches.
Dr Anna Dixon, Chief Executive, Centre for Ageing Better, said:
“We’re very pleased to be working with DCMS and a host of great charities to find new ways to help older people volunteer in their communities. Huge numbers of people in later life choose to give their time to volunteer, bringing great benefits to the people around them and making them feel good, feel more involved in their communities, and with a greater sense of purpose.
“But those who would benefit the most from volunteering face the most barriers to getting involved. We want to find out how voluntary organisations can break down these barriers, and I look forward to seeing and sharing the solutions that these projects come up with over the next year.”
Mims Davies, Minister for Sport and Civil Society, added:
“I'm determined to harness the expertise and experience of people of all ages, and ensure the opportunity to volunteer is open to everyone. “Volunteering is a great way to build connected communities and this funding will make a real difference to people’s lives across the five project areas.”