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£4m public sector grants launched to boost older people’s volunteering

New government grants have been made available for public sector and charity organisations that can boost the volunteering capacity of older people.

The three funds, worth a total of £4m, are the first to be funded by government through the second phase of the Centre for Social Action and will be managed by innovation charity Nesta.

The three funds are as follows:

  • The Second Half Fund - Sharing Time and Talents for Life, which offers grants of up to £250,000 to support ways of encouraging older people’s volunteering in the following areas: children and young people, parents and families, ageing well, creating resourceful and resilient local places.
  • Join In Stay In, which offers grants of up to £50,000 and non-financial support from behavioural science experts for organisations to undertake randomised controlled trials to understand what works best to encourage volunteers to continue to give their time regularly.
  • Give More Get More - Exploring Intensive Volunteering, which offers grants of up to £100,000 to support organisations to trial intensive volunteering placements for people over 50 that work alongside public services. These might include ‘gap years’, such as those VSO offers for experienced volunteers to give their time abroad.

Vicki Sellick, director in Nesta’s Innovation Lab, said: “We know that many over 50s are already generously giving their time to help others - from reading to children in classrooms to keeping patients company in hospital.

“Given that those that do report far higher levels of wellbeing, and that more local communities could benefit hugely from their skills, we want to see how we can bring to bear the talents and experience that the over 50s possess to benefit even more people.”

Rob Wilson, the minister for civil society, urged organisations to apply, adding that the funds are an “excellent opportunity to replicate our fantastic achievements in youth volunteering”.

“The funds will encourage more people over the age of 50 to follow the example of their children and grandchildren, get out in their communities and help us build a Britain that works for everyone,” he added.

Nesta had previously developed the Social Action Innovation Fund, which recruited more than 70,000 volunteers to work alongside public services in areas including helping the unemployed get back into work, peer mentoring for young people online, and teaching emergency lifesaving skills to high risk young people.

A 2014 report from Nesta argued that volunteers contribute £34bn a year to the public services.

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