Volunteer with LinkAges and support us to reduce the social isolation of older people in Bristol.
1-2 hours a week, throughout the year
Different locations in Bristol
What is LinkAges?
LinkAges is a student-led volunteering programme which aims to reduce loneliness experienced amongst socially isolated older people. We aim to foster connection and understanding across the generations, through fun and engaging activities.
We launched the programme in 2016 and have supported it to grow since then! The kinds of projects and activities that make up the programme have grown from the needs and strengths of the communities and students we work with.
We work with a range of partners across the city, including care homes, retirement villages and day centres.
About the issue: loneliness and social isolation
While today's world is more connected that ever in a lot of ways, loneliness and social isolation are big issues in a lot of communities, particularly amongst older people.
Intergenerational contact is extremely effective in helping isolated people to connect with their local community, and we want older people and students in Bristol to feel connected to their communities and learn from each other.
Here are some facts that may surprise you...
  • Around 10% of older people (aged 65+) in England feel lonely often or always
  • Research shows that loneliness has a big effect on mental health, with lonely people losing confidence and finding it harder and harder to reengage with society.
  • Loneliness increases the risk of developing dementia, and can be as bad for your physical health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day according to some studies.
  • Cuts to older people's services in Bristol means that there are fewer services and resources available to older people, and more pressure on service providers.
Taking part and making a difference
We run a variety of projects with different community partners across the city. You can find a full list of available projects in the application form. Below are examples of some of the projects we run.
Student Skills Swap: Both students and older people have a wide and diverse range of skills, so we are giving you the opportunity to learn from and/or share skills and interests with each other. We run social science discussion groups and history lectures, and volunteers are able to join in with pottery and knitting groups. Sharing skills and learning from each other is meaningful way to connect and improve the wellbeing of both parties.
Life Stories: Groups of volunteers work with an older person, in order to create a life story for that person. They get to know that person, through visiting them and chatting to them about their life. The volunteers then produce something to represent that person's life story. This might be a poster, an essay, a scrapbook or something even more creative.
Dementia Memory Aid activities and Alzheimer's Cafes: These are activities through which volunteers can engage with older people experiencing Alzheimers and dementia. This might include playing simple games, or simply sitting and having a cup of tea together.
IT support sessions: Volunteers support older people to improve how they use technology. This can help them to connect more with friends and family who might live far away, by sending emails and using skype to chat to each other.
In 2018/19 we'll have a range of activities for you to get involved in!
Each of our projects requires a commitment of only 1-2 hours week, so can fit round your busy schedule.
How to become a volunteer
  • You will need to complete a short online application form. You can tell us a bit about yourself and select the project you're most interested in.
  • You will be invited to an intro session called a 'selection workshop'. You'll meet the project coordinator and find out more about volunteering with LinkAges.
  • We'll send you an online safeguarding video quiz, and you'll need a DBS check for most projects before you start.
  • Once you've completed these, you'll have an induction with your community partner. They'll let you know lots of important things about where you'll be volunteering.
  • You're now ready to volunteer! We ask you to commit to at least 3 sessions per term, as our community partners and the older people you will be volunteering with will benefit most from consistent and reliable visits
Support from Bristol Hub
At Bristol Hub we'll try and make your volunteering experience the best it can be.
We will:
  • Reimburse reasonable travel expenses, so you're never out of pocket for volunteering.
  • Respond quickly to concerns and worries, and try find solutions to any problems.
  • Signpost you on to more opportunities, whether it's training, events or even graduate jobs.
  • Help you to feel part of a community by holding socials and other lovely stuff.
Our Impact: 2017/18
In 2017/18 we supported:
  • 97 student volunteers
  • 150 beneficiaries
What beneficiaries say....
*"I think the whole idea of the Hub and the skills swapping is really good. They teach us about IT and we can teach them things like sewing, knitting and crocheting, and have a good chat and a cup of tea, and that’s what it’s all about.
Students are much younger and they’ve got a different outlook on life. You can talk about all sorts of interesting things."*
What volunteers say...
"Working with Bristol Hub staff is enriching and valuable. The level of support I received for LinkAges is tremendous. It gave me confidence in my role as I knew that I had the support for any issue that may arise."
Have any questions about the application process or need reasonable adjustments made? Please contact ****. We are inclusive and encouraging of all University of Bristol students who want to volunteer, and welcome BME, LGBT+ and Disabled applicants.
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