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IFA Virtual Town Hall Chat Summary 26 June 2020

The following chat summary is from the IFA Virtual Town Hall on 26 June 2020 with Ms. Ruth Marks, sharing on the future of volunteerism.


Key Resources


Age-Friendly Communities:


Upcoming Events


Older Volunteers

  • Older people are assets to the community. Throughout the pandemic the issue of older people’s contributions particularly through the voluntary sector has been largely overlooked.
  • Older volunteers remain essential throughout the pandemic, as expressed in this video from the Tipperary Volunteer Centre
  • In some countries older people are now reluctant to volunteer in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. What are some strategies to promote volunteerism among older persons?
  • There are continuing opportunities to engage with older volunteers such as the Montgomery Country Volunteer Centre’s 50+ Volunteer Network
  • A majority of volunteers in Ireland are female (66%) according to the Irish National Volunteering Database.
  • Volunteer Testimonials:


Intergenerational Programs

  • Bridging Ages offers an international programme wherein teens interview older people about their lives and write a book about them. The programme is run by a school or organization in partnership with a housing facility for older people or community group. Resources required include an online toolkit and book writing application. During COVID-19, this program has been expanded such that friends, families and befrienders can keep in touch with older people in lockdown. Interviews can be done over the phone or with video conferencing. This initiative has helped people make more regular contact and have more meaningful and purposeful conversations within families and communities.
  • Dublin City University through the Age-Friendly University Global Network offers Zoom training online for members of the public, delivered by students and aimed primarily at older people.
  • Younger people in Wales volunteer because of causes they care about and a drive to make a difference. Their educational/employment desires come secondary. Intergenerational volunteering is a great way to match people of different motivations, experiences and assets. Perhaps organizations could implement a buddying scheme where new volunteers are buddied up with longer standing volunteers (especially where these may not be able to return just yet).


Changes to Volunteer Processes

  • At this stage in the pandemic and in light of society’s increasing focus on technology it is important to consider how digital poverty is being addressed and overcome.
  • How has the voluntary sector accommodated vetting and training to allow volunteers to activate quickly?
  • An essential emphasis of volunteer programs throughout the pandemic must be on the “ask and listen” approach particularly when programs aim to support older adults experiencing social isolation.
  • Gratitude and appreciation for older volunteers is essential and can take many forms including hand written cards or phone calls.


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