The Centre for Ageing Better this week published their review of community contributions in later life. The review highlights that ‘by the time people reach later life, the vast majority already have some experience of contributing to their communities’.
The review is refreshing in the acknowledgment given to the formal and informal contributions of older people and looks at what practical and emotional help can be given to ensure that everyone has access to a full range of opportunities.
Since the start of Time to Shine we’ve benefited massively from the contribution of over 750 older volunteers; from peer researchers, to board members to one-to-one befrienders. Time to Shine has definitely benefited hugely from the contribution of older people and certainly wouldn’t be the same programme without this contribution. Many of our trustees speak of the need for the relationship to be reciprocal in which both parties benefit, and we try our best to enable this.
“It was lovely to see you and the gang today – I really can’t believe just how much ‘one of the family’ I am”.
Although we as a team pride ourselves in working alongside older people and value every individual’s contribution, the review did highlight a couple of areas we could learn from. My food for thought is to fully consider both practical costs and hidden costs of volunteering as well as ensuring that people are supported so that certain transitions in life don’t cause people to withdraw from volunteering.
The report can be found here Age-friendly inclusive volunteering