Written by Ruth Richardson, BAB Programme Manager
As we celebrate Volunteers Week (1 - 12 June) we would like to use this opportunity to share the successes of the BAB partnership so far in enabling older people to contribute to their communities. Older people already make a huge net contribution to the UK economy through volunteering and many studies are beginning to show the positive impact volunteering in later life can have on health and wellbeing. One of the four BAB programme outcomes is to increase the number of older people who are able to contribute to their community through such mechanisms as volunteering, belonging to a forum, steering group or other activity by thirty percent by 2020.
The wording of the programme outcome recognises that older people may contribute to their community in a variety of ways beyond the traditional notions of volunteering, and we hope that through the delivery of BAB-funded projects by partners older people will have even more choice when it comes to participating in activities in later life. In the first year of the BAB programme, 120 older volunteers have been involved in BAB projects ranging from offering peer support in a bereavement friendship group to producing and presenting a weekly radio show. We expect this number to continue to rise as more BAB-funded projects come on stream in 2016 and beyond.
At the start of the BAB programme the evaluation team conducted some research to develop a baseline for the number of older people already volunteering in the city. Many partners will remember being visited by the Community Researchers team to capture this information from individual organisations, and we also collated data from the annual Bristol Quality of Life survey and the Bristol Older People’s Forum biannual survey to produce the baseline. We will be re-mapping this data over the course of the BAB programme to track progress against our outcome target of a 30% increase.
To date, 44 organisations have received funding through BAB with many of these projects providing new volunteering opportunities for older people. We recognise that recruiting and supporting new volunteers can be a challenge for already-stretched organisations in these difficult times but hope that with continued collaboration within the BAB partnership we can start to address these challenges together, as well as providing older people-led volunteering opportunities across the city.
Photo credits: Community Kick-Start Funded Projects - Clockwise from top left: Growing Bolder, Ashton Vale Club, Malcolm X Elders, Jacobs Wells Community Craft Hub.
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