Volunteering Matters has been leading UK volunteering for more than 50 years. They've seen first-hand that investing in people through the power of volunteering makes a huge difference not only to the volunteer and the beneficiary, but to society as a whole.
Thanks to support from players of People's Postcode Lottery, the charity has been able to expand its Retired and Senior Volunteering Programmes. They aim to harness the energy and experience of older people, and prevent them from becoming excluded or isolated.
From employability skills workshops to volunteer drivers taking people to hospital appointments, older people are supported to take a lead role in both setting up and participating in activities that improve the health and wellbeing of others in their community.
Since being awarded £600,000 last year, the charity has been able to maintain projects across the UK, and have expanded their successful Sporting Chance project into new areas.
Sporting Chance welcomes men aged over 50, regardless of their fitness level, to free activity and exercise groups. Some participants were lonely and isolated, others were at a loose end and bored after bereavement or retirement - collectively all of them were looking for 'something to do'.
The project is already making a difference. Participants report weight loss, reduced medication, improved mood, improved mobility, and an overall increased sense of wellbeing. Nearly all participants report increased social opportunities - they get out more and make lots of new friends.
Oonagh Aitken, Chief Executive of Volunteering Matters, said, "I am absolutely delighted that players of People's Postcode Lottery support our work with isolated older people. Throughout the UK, increasing numbers of older people are facing loneliness and poor health and wellbeing. This isn't inevitable – if we pull together in our communities then we can improve the quality of life for older people.
"I firmly believe that volunteering provides older people with a sense of purpose, renewed self-confidence, and a zest for life that enables them to play an active and meaningful role in their local community. I'm very thankful to players of People's Postcode Lottery, and I'm looking forward to meeting even more volunteers and beneficiaries who are benefiting from these projects."