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Good Friends for All: age-friendly and inclusive volunteering grant programme evaluation




Centre for Ageing Better

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An evaluation of the Good Friends for All project, which works by matching together people self-referred or referred into the service with a volunteer “Good Friend” based on their needs and interests who can help with a range of issues. The Good Friends for All project builds on, and learns from, a similar scheme in Darlington and involvement in the Centre for Ageing Better’s original community research and review into age-friendly and inclusive volunteering. Good Friends for All appears to have a positive impact on the people supported and the volunteers themselves, helping improve social connections, health and well-being and generating a sense of purpose and value. The scheme has been enhanced through efforts to address barriers and embed age-friendly and inclusive volunteering principles and practice, such as trying to increase the support available to volunteers and make volunteering more flexible, so that it suits different circumstances. The project has highlighted the challenges of attracting new volunteers, although this has changed somewhat following the growth in volunteer numbers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The project has also highlighted the challenges of making changes to longstanding, pre-existing services and models (the project has adopted an existing Good Friends scheme established in a neighbouring area, while it has sought to adapt an existing, long-established befriending scheme in North Craven). Such situations may require a longer-term, gradual, cultural-change approach to embedding age-friendly and inclusive principles and practice in such instances where ingrained systems, processes and attitudes exist, and where working with new partners and establishing new relationships is required. The project is committed to continuing, developing and growing the scheme using other funding sources. It is also intending to continue promoting and embedding age-friendly and inclusive volunteering principles and practice within the scheme, the local Age UK partners and amongst other local organisations. (Edited publisher abstract)

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