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Sustain: Growing Connections: age-friendly and inclusive volunteering grant programme evaluation




Centre for Ageing Better

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An evaluation of Growing Connections, a project of Sustain, the alliance for better food and farming. The project was delivered through Sustain’s Capital Growth network of 2,700+ community gardens in London, using volunteers as part of the delivery model. The process sought to help the gardens involved in the project adopt age-friendly and inclusive volunteering by developing resources, such as a guide/toolkit, webpages, films and animation, to share best practice and encourage other community gardens, community-food and nature-based projects. The Sustain Growing Connections project and its model of sharing ideas, experience and expertise of volunteers and organisations through the flagship/buddy garden approach, combined with a community of practice, provided an effective platform to co-create, prototype and test resources relevant to age-friendly and inclusive volunteering. The project has also encouraged and supported the participating community gardens to put into practice and showcase approaches to age-friendly and inclusive volunteering. They have been given the opportunity to reflect, learn from each other, and implement changes to reduce age-friendly and inclusive volunteering barriers, embed the principles and make their gardens more age-friendly and inclusive. This in turn appears to be improving the volunteer experience and consequently increasing the diversity and amount of volunteer involvement and commitment. This has the potential to help community gardens attract and retain more diverse volunteers in the future and become more sustainable. (Edited publisher abstract)

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