Residents as volunteers

Volunteering is good for the individual and the communities they live in. It gives people a sense of purpose and a feeling of giving something back. But, research shows us that there is a significant decline in the number of people who volunteer after the age of 75.

We sought to find out why, and the results from our Big Lottery Fund funded project ‘Residents as Volunteers’ are below.

Encouraging older people to volunteer 

The aim of the project was to increase volunteering activity in those over seventy five years old, and, working in conjunction with NCVO, measure the impact that volunteering had on the well-being and quality of life of those who participated.

Between March 2016 and August 2018, we worked with NCVO to deliver the Residents as Volunteers project funded by the Big Lottery Fund.

The project aimed to support over 75s living in a residential home setting to volunteer. It was managed by a project manager from The
Abbeyfield Society, who recruited resident volunteers within their homes. Inspiration volunteers were recruited to help with resident
recruitment, role development and provision of ongoing support.

NCVO undertook the evaluation of the project which aimed to generate evidence of its impact and good practice around effective volunteering. It draws on in-depth interviews with residents and staff, pre and post-volunteering surveys and detailed monitoring data.

Our research into older people who volunteer

In year two of the project, a total number of 72 residents were recruited. Here is a summary of our findings:

  • 31% of resident volunteers said they had volunteered in the past
  • The most common motivations were of an altruistic nature, such as wanting to improve things or help people (45%)
  • 75% of volunteering happened inside the residents' homes, i.e on Abbeyfield sites
  • 50% of the volunteers gave up to ten hours a month
  • Provision of support was seen as being 'crucial' for the success of the project
  • There were a variety of barriers to volunteering, with 36% feeling they were 'too old'
  • Residents felt that volunteering had a positive impact on their emotional and social well-being
  • Many also reported that volunteering helped them to stay physically and mentally active

Download supporting documents 

A thank you to everyone involved

  • Abbeyfield residents, staff and inspiration volunteers who took part in the ‘Residents as Volunteers’ project.
  • The Big Lottery Fund who without their belief in funding innovative new areas of work through ‘Accelerating Ideas’ this project would not have been able to happen.
  • NCVO, our delivery partner, who provided the monitoring framework and associated evaluation reports.
  • The Project Steering Group who together provided support, guidance and expert advice.

Thank you