Age Action Alliance - South West

On the 17th June, Age Action Alliance South West held its second meeting at the Holiday Inn in Taunton. With over 30 delegates attending, the event focused on how we can work together to encourage older people to volunteer across the South West. People spoke passionately about how older people are assets in their local communities and have a wealth of experience and knowledge they can bring to any organisation.

The second meeting began with an update on progresses arising from the initial meeting in March. Since then some exciting developments have taken place; the launch of the South West Age Action Alliance web page, the mapping of existing projects across the South West, a clear terms of reference for the group and identification of issues SWAAA members would like to address.

Short mapping talks followed from AAA members, Gillian Girling – Girlings and Bristol Legion, Amanda Whitlock – Independent Age and John Clifford - RVS, who described their projects and invited questions and answers.

Attention then turned to the main focus of the event a group discussion around older people and volunteering. The discussion was kick started by two speakers, Susie Rabin – Commission on the Voluntary Sector and Ageing, who gave an overview of particular issues arising from their research into older people and volunteering and Judy Mead – WE Care and Repair, who provided a practical insight into recruiting, retaining and managing older volunteers.

Facilitated by Tony Watts, the group then worked together to address four key areas, what are the barriers to volunteering, what impact does this have on community organisations, what do we know works well and possible solutions and ways forward with an emphasis on working together. An animated, wide ranging and positive discussion followed with everyone getting involved. We’re currently assembling all the information and will post the collated feedback on the AAASW web page.

Based on preliminary feedback a working group is being formed to carry key ideas of the day forward. Anticipated strands for the working group include: Gaining a proper understanding of the issues around older people volunteering and potentially looking at more detailed, possibly funded research. Looking at how volunteering opportunities could be coordinated or managed and how this links into what is already being done by organisations. Developing a multi layered awareness campaign. Gaining corporate backing and support for the project. Profiling positive stories of volunteering to support and underpin the work.

Please keep an eye on the AAA SW webpage for further developments. If you would like to find out more or get involved do get in touch.

Claire Miller, Chief Operating Officer, LinkAge – clairemiller@linkagewestofengland.org.uk

Tony Watts, Chair, South West Forum on Ageing - tony.watts@swfoa.org.uk

Age Action Alliance South West Web Address - http://ageactionalliance.org/theme/south-west-age-action-alliance-network/