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Visually impaired lady and a volunteer working through a quiz

Review of volunteering and community contributions in later life

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

People in later life already make significant contributions to their communities – from small acts of neighbourliness to formal civic roles – sharing their time and talents for the benefit of others.

Ageing Better’s research also shows that taking part in voluntary and community activity also improves people’s own social connections, sense of purpose, self-esteem and life satisfaction in later life.

Those who contribute to their community report that they are happier and have better social connections and sense of purpose as a result. Where people in later life feel valued and appreciated in their formal volunteering roles, there is evidence to suggest this contributes to reduced depression.

Barriers to participation

However, some people in later life face particular barriers to participation. Those on low incomes or living in poor health are much less likely to take part in volunteering opportunities, even though the evidence suggests that they have the most to gain in terms of wellbeing. The review will focus particularly on how to address barriers to voluntary and community activity among these and other underrepresented groups.

Drive to increase volunteering and community activity by people over 50

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What do we want to find out?

As part of the review we called for evidence and insight and will also host a series of roundtables in 2018 with cross-sector organisations that work with volunteers. This will culminate in a set of practical recommendations to inform the work of government and the voluntary, public and private sectors.

We want to understand more about:

  • What motivates different people in later life to take part?
  • What prevents people from getting involved and what would support and sustain their engagement?
  • What are some of the challenges people face and how might they be better supported to overcome these?
  • What promising practice and opportunities for improvement are there?
  • Why are certain groups underrepresented in volunteering in later life?
  • What is the role of poverty, health, ethnicity and place?

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.”

What’s your experience of volunteering in later life?

Do you have experience of volunteering or making a contribution in later life? If yes, tell us your story.

We want to capture insights from both personal and professional experience, as well as evidence from formal research and evaluations to inform our understanding of what works and what could make a difference, for who and where.

We particularly want to hear about experiences related to lower socio-economic groups and those in poor health and living with long term conditions. We are interested in contributions from:

  • individuals in later life
  • organisations that work with volunteers
  • community groups
  • organisations and researchers

Email us at VolunteeringReview@ageing-better.org.uk if you wish to submit evidence or if you have questions about the review.