Ever Thought of Older People and Volunteering?
I'm not sure at what age one officially becomes older. According to my niece of 3 being 24 is really old, yet my grandmother gave her last crafts class at 98 and was still going strong at 100. In County Wicklow Volunteer Centre our oldest volunteer (that we know of) is in her late 80's and teaches computers, so in my opinion age is a matter of style and attitude.
A Practical Checklist for organisations involving older people as volunteers
- Have fully operational equal opportunities policies which encourage older people to volunteer and to be involved more effectively.
- Try not to adopt a narrow view of what activities are suitable for older volunteers. A choice of volunteering roles, including those which are physically and mentally taxing, should be offered.
- Build flexibility into the volunteering role to allow older people to carry on with other things going on in their lives.
- Support older volunteers well - do not throw them in at the deep end, or ask them to put in more time than they can spare.
- Follow good practice in the management of volunteers in all instances, e.g volunteer policy, recruitment and selection, induction, training, supportand supervision.
- Try to offer older volunteers something new and different from what they have been doing all their lives.
- Offer training - the opportunity to learn should be given in a variety of formats to suit various preferred methods of learning.
- Make your volunteers feel empowered and consult and involve them in the development of their volunteering
- Be creative, and consider if there are tasks within the organisation which individual older volunteers or a group would be able to undertake and run as their own project, with back-up support.
- Match older people to tasks based on their interests, abilities and skills.
- Market volunteering to older people as something which could meet their needs and provide a new, exciting, even enjoyable, leisure activity.
- Follow good practice in management of volunteers in all instances e.g. volunteer policy, recruitment and selection, induction, training, support and supervision.
- Overcome obstacles, such as lack of transport or expenses - this will make it easier for older people to volunteer.
See our downloads and resources section of our web site for further resources.