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Community, Grants, Older People, Volunteering, Younger people

Meeting our Grantees: Winchester Hub

29 October 2021

Over the coming weeks we will be sharing some of the stories of the recent grantees we are supporting. Along with a bit of background on the organisation, we will also be sharing why the charity or project was supported, and how it aligns with the work of our foundation.

This week we will be focusing on the Winchester Student Hub, and their work to engage the local older population through student volunteering. The Linkages programme run by Winchester Hub is all about connection and purpose, helping to develop students understanding of ageing, while providing connection and purpose to local older people. The programme has been running since 2015 and in 2019, 36 student volunteers engaged more than 200 older people through programmes of exercise classes, tea parties and activity days.

Understandably, the pandemic has had a severe impact on programmes like this across the country, in turn creating significant challenges for older people living alone or living with dementia.

With activities slowly resuming, the focus of the coming year for the charity is around a series of events, such as the tea party pictured here. While less intensive as an intervention compared to 1-1 befriending work, these events allow the volunteers to reach a wider number of older people and create a more inclusive programme.

Our funding for this charity is unrestricted, which means that we empower the charity to spend the funds where they need them most to continue delivering their services. This might mean training and recruiting volunteers, or covering the salaries of the core staff who run the charity. Some funders are reluctant to do this, preferring to link funds to a specific outcome, however, in this instance the trustees felt that the overall work of the programme aligned well enough with the foundation’s own aims that this was appropriate.

Our grant of £5000 will help the charity to continue engaging student volunteers and delivering a planned programme of events over the coming year. 96% of students involved agreed or strongly agreed that this initiative increased their understanding of isolation in older people as a social issue. We have already seen the huge impact on policy that can be achieved when younger people are mobilised to drive social change, with climate change being a key issue for young adults. If we are to create a better society for older people, then challenging the perceptions around age are absolutely key, so while this funding may be principally to help a local charity keep delivering its services, it is also an investment in raising the challenges of older people with a new audience.

As a well established and soundly governed charity, combined with a clear alignment with two areas of our charitable focus (supporting older people and educating young people) the trustees scored this proposal highly, and we are delighted to already see our funds making an impact.