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.
You can join groups who:
  • Help older people to improve how they use technology
  • Support people living with dementia
  • Share and learn new skills through spending time with residents in social groups
(More details of projects below)
How to become a volunteer
  • Complete a short online application form. You can tell us a bit about yourself and select the project you're most interested in.
  • Attend a selection workshop which includes introductory information and basic training.
  • Complete an online safeguarding video and DBS check (we will let you know if this is necessary for the project you work on).
  • Go to an induction session 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!
Placement experience
We run a variety of projects with different community partners across the city including care homes, retirement villages and day centres. Each of our projects requires a commitment of only 1-2 hours week, so can fit round your busy schedule. Below are the projects we currently run. When you apply, please select the activity you would prefer to take part in.
IT support sessions:
What: Help residents with their technology - from sending photos via email, to texting!
Where: St Monica Trust, Westbury on Trym, BS9 3UN
When: Wednesdays, 2-4pm
PLEASE NOTE: You will need 2 character references or a DBS certificate to take part in this project.
Life Stories:
What: Small groups of students will be matched with a resident at a local retirement village. You will spend about 4 sessions with the resident, getting to know them and talking about their life experiences. You will then record this in a format that they can keep, e.g. a scrapbook or artwork.
Where: St Monica Trust, Westbury on Trym, BS9 3UN
When: Flexible - we will try to base sessions around the availability of volunteers and residents.
PLEASE NOTE: You will need 2 character references or a DBS certificate to take part in this project.
Coffee mornings:
What: Have a coffee and a chat with residents during weekly social coffee mornings
Where: St Monica Trust, Westbury on Trym, BS9 3UN
When: Tuesdays, 10-11am
Alzheimer's Cafes:
What: Have a cup of tea and a chat with attendees at local Alzheimer's Cafes.
Sessions are run monthly, at the following times (you can attend one or both cafes):
Alzheimer's Cafe - 1st Tuesday of the month, 3:30-5:30pm: St Monica Trust Cote Lane, Westbury on Trym
Alzheimer's Cafe - 4th Monday of the month, 1.30-4pm: Monica Wills House, Bedminster
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. There are several pre-existing Skills Swaps to choose from, or we can try to match you up with someone else. Whether it's art, engineering, music, or languages, someone will want to share or learn a skill with you! Current projects include:
Craft mornings
What: Volunteers craft with residents at St Monica Trust, no experience required!
Where: St Monica Trust, Westbury on Trym, BS9 3UN
When: Mondays, 10-11:30am
Knitting group:
What: Join a knitting group for older people at a local community centre. No knitting expertise is required, as other knitters in the group will be able to help you to pick up the basic skills. We can supply you with some basic knitting equipment if you don’t have your own (needles, a ball of wool).
Where: Greenway Centre, Southmead Development Trust, BS10 5PY
When: Fridays, 10:30-12:00
Gardening Group (Southmead Development Trust):
What: Take part in a (mostly) indoor gardening group, you will plant small tubs of flowers, herbs, etc, and take part in some nature-themed DIY and craft projects.
Where: Greenway Centre, Southmead Development Trust, BS10 5PY
When: Thursdays, 1:30-3:30pm
Gardening Group (Lawrence Weston):
What: Take part in a gardening group, you will plant small tubs of flowers, herbs, etc, and take part in some nature-themed DIY and craft projects.
Where: Five Ways Bungalow, 2 Ridingleaze, Lawrence Weston, BS11 0QF
When: Wednesdays, 1:30-3:30pm
What will you get out of it?
Volunteering with LinkAges will allow you to develop a range of skills and experience including:
  • Communication
  • Effective listening
  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Time management
  • Adaptability
  • Activity planning
  • Awareness of social issues amongst older people
  • Safeguarding training
  • An understanding of dementia and how best to support people living with dementia
This opportunity is excellent for anyone wanting experience working in care homes, community centres and with older people, or who is exploring a career in social work, education, psychology, art/drama/music therapy or community outreach and development work.
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.
About the issue: loneliness and social isolation
While today's world is more connected than 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.
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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