The experience of older volunteers in intergenerational school-based projects

Document type
Granville, Gillian
Date of publication
1 September 2000
Voluntary Action: the journal of the Institute for Volunteering Research. Vol. 2; Number 3
Social welfare
Material type

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This article brings together theory, practice and current social policy to further our understanding of the experiences of older volunteers working in intergenerational projects. The empirical work was conducted in three school-based projects in London, Salford and north Staffordshire, and involved individual, semi-structured interviews with forty-five volunteers. The findings showed that the volunteers came from a wide range of backgrounds, but that all had a strong commitment to young people and a belief in the younger generation. They brought a non-judgemental approach to the partnership, and were able to see priorities and take initiatives that proved supportive to the young person’s learning and the development of their self-esteem. The article also demonstrates the benefits to the wider community of well-planned intergenerational initiatives, and challenges the negative stereotypes of old age. Finally, it highlights the detrimental effects of an ageist society that does not recognise the valuable resource represented by older volunteers, and the need for organisations to recognise and value the special attributes of age.

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