Charities must do more to support older volunteers, report says

centre for ageing betterCharities and funders must do more to support older volunteers, and government will pilot measures to help, according to a government-backed report published today by the Centre for Ageing Better.

The report used figures from the government's 2018 Community Life Survey, which found that more than 40 per cent of people over 50 volunteer in some way every month.

This includes formal volunteering, such as regular charity work or serving as a school governor, as well as informal volunteering like holding a cake sale or helping a neighbour with their shopping.

The report also reflects on findings from a review led by the Centre for Ageing Better with the Office for Civil Society, which ran from October 2017 to June 2018.

The review included a call for evidence, which received 234 responses, and a number of other engagement activities.

The report  warns that as older people are more likely to volunteer, charities risk becoming over-reliant on "a dwindling pool of people, predominantly older, wealthier and white, many of whom will be unable to volunteer as much in future due to changing working patterns and the increasing likelihood they will have caring responsibilities".

It also says there are inequalities in the types of people most likely to do different kinds of activities, with people who are less financially secure, in poorer health, or from a BAME background, facing structural barriers.

The review calls on charities, funders and commissioners to adopt a more age-friendly, inclusive approach to enabling people to volunteer.

It calls for:

Funders to apply age-friendly and inclusive principles to their funding decisions and criteria, and to cover the costs of accessibility and more inclusive approaches
Voluntary and community sector organisations to work together to tackle issues such as expenses, flexibility and access
Local government and public commissioners to recognise the value of volunteering as a way of promoting wellbeing and social connections, and to develop strategies and funding streams that support age-friendly and inclusive contribution
Tracey Crouch, minister for civil society, said in a foreword to report: "The review also finds that as people move through life, they can face a number of barriers to taking part, such as health conditions, or work and family commitments.

"The review's recommendations on how to tackle these practical, structural and emotional barriers will be hugely useful to charities, funders, businesses and public services in supporting a lifetime of contribution."

The government's strategy for tackling loneliness, published this week, said the Centre for Ageing Better will work with the Office for Civil Society to launch up to five pilot sites by March 2019 to develop new approaches to age-friendly, flexible and inclusive volunteering.