Senior volunteering: hobby for seniors that cities should invest into
Since May 2015 the ‘’Let us be active!’’ project was looking for ways to promote senior volunteering in the three cities of Estonia, Latvia and Finland, strengthening the cooperation between the Healthy Cities in the Baltic Sea Region. Pärnu, Riga and Turku were working together to involve more older persons in volunteering activities, and to find out what are the wishes and needs of seniors when it comes to leisure time activities. Moreover, new forms of volunteering for older people were developed and piloted with positive results. It all was realized within the project co-financed by the Central Baltic Programme 2014-2020 and coordinated by the Baltic Region Healthy Cities Association – WHO Collaborating Centre for Healthy Cities and Urban Health in the Baltic Region. The lessons learned and plans for the future were discussed during the final seminar organized on 8 November in Turku, Finland.
The immediate evaluation of the 1,5-year cooperation between the cities and WHO Collaboration Centre shows that the project created new knowledge on senior volunteering, which can be used when developing the activities in the future. This refers to the e.g. guidelines ‘Senior volunteering – Involving and activating seniors in local community’ (available in English, Estonian, Latvian and Finnish here), new model of cooperation between city and NGOs (developed in Turku) or the call centre run by senior volunteers for seniors (opened in Riga).
During the project it was discovered and also confirmed by experts that the seniors today prefer the volunteering activities, where they do not have to commit for long period of time and which do not require being present regularly. The lesson is to promote senior volunteering not as a social activity or work but as a hobby. As seniors’ primary motivation in volunteering is to meet new people, have fun and help others, it shall be promoted this way: as a fun activity with friends.
Pärnu, Riga and Turku are planning to continue the senior volunteering activities after the project’s ends. Learn more about ‘’Let us be active!’’ by visiting www.letusbeactive.eu, www.facebook.com/letusbeactive or by contacting Karolina Mackiewicz, Project Manager firstname.lastname@example.org