Tackling loneliness through volunteering

Older people enjoying being together

As Loneliness Awareness Week begins, it is a great time to reflect on the work Rural Wisdom are doing. National Lottery Community Fund Communication’s Officer Cath Logan looks at how they are highlighting the impact of community-based activities led by older people and how volunteering is helping to address loneliness.

Linking up rural communities in Scotland and Wales, Rural Wisdom has identified common themes and issues that older people face and they are working to feed this insight into policy makers across the UK, in Westminster and the devolved governments, as well as informing locally delivered plans.

Volunteering is Important!

Their research demonstrates Volunteering is a great opportunity for older people to still feel connected to their community and use their skills and experience to give something back. Helping fight loneliness.

However, there are many challenges with recruiting and keeping older volunteers in rural communities and to help tackle this issue they have developed a guide: Tips for Getting People Involved.

Text Box: “Volunteering for a cause you believe in, taking on responsibilities that make you feel useful and valued, maintaining or developing the interests and relationships you care about, all involve looking beyond yourself, and beyond perceived loneliness, to focus on what you value.” 
Insight and Learning report on Loneliness and Social Isolation

Our own recent Insight and Learning report on Loneliness and Social Isolation highlighted that finding meaning is at the heart of tackling loneliness. Our report shows Volunteering has a double benefit, improving the wellbeing both of those supported and those offering support. For many people, knowing that they have contributed improves their sense of self-worth.

 People’s contributions should be valued

When Rural Wisdom heard from older people in rural areas it was clear many felt their contribution to society is not recognised or appreciated and this is a key factor to the stigma of ageing. Tackling this Rural Wisdom is raising the voices of older people helping to influence service providers and decision makers on what works for older people.

Putting policy into action Glasgow based charity, Outside The Box, contributed to the Scottish Government’s Older People’s Framework and was able to draw on everything they’d heard from Rural Wisdom to produce a report – A Fairer Scotland for Older People – what we heard. This offers a vision for a society that is fair for older people, offering opportunities to ensure older people are respected and included – helping to tackle loneliness.

In Scotland, Outside The Box have received £1,021,285 from The National Lottery Community Fund to deliver their Rural Wisdom project.

To find out more about Rural Wisdom visit https://www.ruralwisdom.org

To find out more about volunteering visit https://www.volunteerscotland.net/

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