Grundtvig Senior Volunteering Project
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The WEA Learning Age Team has secured funding from the European Lifelong Learning Programme for a Grundtvig Senior Volunteering Project (SVP). This project will create the opportunity for the exchange of volunteers from Club Amici di Salvatore Quasimodo in Roccalumera, Sicily and learners from the WEA. Three older people from Northern Ireland will travel to Sicily in June 2011 for 3 weeks to share their skills and experiences with senior groups in the Messina area. In return three older people from Sicily will visit Northern Ireland in September 2011 to work with local senior groups taking part in activities of a useful social value.SVPJune201

As populations age, it is becoming ever more important to ensure that all older people have the opportunity to live full and active lives and remain important members of our communities. The risk of social isolation increases and it is well documented how this can bring about depression, ill-health and dependency. There is evidence that shows how involvement in learning activities have a positive impact on later life and can reduce isolation, keeping the body active, stimulating the mind and promoting a greater involvement in community life.Volunteering is increasingly recognised as a valuable informal learning experience particularly for older people and is a way of offering new learning opportunities thus promoting the process of active ageing and emphasising the contribution that older people can make.

This project offers older people aged 50+ the opportunity to take part in volunteering activities that will bring about benefits for them individually and their communities. They will volunteer with local senior groups in planning, organising and facilitating activities that promote positive ageing and encourage participation in learning activities.

Creative Volunteering aims to promote social inclusion by highlighting the positive contribution older people can make and encourage individuals to engage in social, educational and cultural activities. More specifically, volunteers will have the opportunity to gain skills in creative writing and storytelling, new technologies and languages as well as skills in planning, organising and facilitating group activities. The acquired skills can be utilised by the volunteers in their own settings thus contributing to a self help learning culture, where older people themselves take control and responsibility for organising and promoting learning activities within their own groups.

Another key objective of the project is to highlight the benefits of volunteering both for individuals and their communities and to encourage older people in both regions to consider volunteering. We hope that the participants involved in the project will highlight and pass on their positive experiences of volunteering and be first hand examples of how active involvement can contribute to a better quality of life.

This exchange will have the added dimension of the opportunity for volunteers to develop greater intercultural awareness and increase the transnational mobility of older people within Europe. Volunteers will have a deeper insight into the host countries and improve their language skills. As people age they encounter many changes. This exchange of volunteers will give participants the opportunity to develop their capacity to adapt to new environments thus enabling them to deal with change in a positive and formative way.

Keep an eye on this page to hear more on how the volunteers’ are getting on!