Older volunteers bring a highly valuable contribution to society’s
well-being and intergenerational solidarity
Launch of the European Year of Volunteering 2011
“The launch of the European Year 2011 of Volunteering is a time to celebrate! Let’s hope that the Year will highlight the huge contribution that older volunteers bring to society and to greater solidarity between generations and will help remove the barriers preventing more older people to volunteer”, says Anne-Sophie Parent, Secretary General of AGE Platform Europe
AGE welcomes the launch of the EU Year 2011 of Volunteering, officially announced by the European Commission on 2nd December, which is a clear recognition at EU level of the important benefit that volunteering bring to all in society, including volunteers themselves. Volunteering can indeed improve the quality of life and of services in many sectors (such as health, education, personal assistance, etc.), prevent social exclusion and strengthen the solidarity between generations. Many older people provide volunteer support in child care and education, as well as to older more dependent people who would otherwise be very isolated.
Research has showed that volunteering also improves the quality of life of volunteers themselves, in particular of older volunteers, by increasing their participation in their communities and improving their general health condition and well-being.
Another important advantage of volunteering is the bridge it can provide to employment, in allowing volunteers of any age to gain experience and self confidence.
Unfortunately, there are still many barriers to volunteering, since, as statistics (2008 Flash Eurobarometer) suggested, far fewer older people actually engage in volunteering activities when they retire (44%) compared to the number of older workers who say they would like to volunteer after they take retirement (73%). This discrepancy results from structural barriers and ageist attitudes toward older people, i.e. age limits in insurance coverage for volunteers or legal restrictions preventing unemployed older workers from getting involved in volunteer activities.
Within the EY2011 AGE members, including 50plus Hellas, will promote older volunteering across the EU and will ensure that an effective link with the EY 2012 of Active Ageing (and Intergenerational Solidarity) will be made.