Volunteer with LinkAges and connect with older people to help tackle loneliness and social isolation.

Informaton icon Volunteer with LinkAges and connect with older people to help tackle loneliness and social isolation.

Location icon Different locations in Bristol

Clock icon 1-2 hours a week, throughout the year

Applications are open for LinkAges. Apply via our online form now!

Check out our other opportunities available:

LinkAges is a student-led volunteering programme which connects students with older people to tackle social isolation. We aim to foster connection and understanding across the generations, through fun and engaging activities.

You can join activities that:

  • Help older people to improve how they use technology
  • Support people living with dementia
  • Allow students and older people to socialise over afternoon tea and share interests through skills swaps
  • Help older people feel less isolated
  • Support older people in creating life story projects

LinkAges this year

Over the past couple of years we have all had to adjust to seeing our friends, family and peers a little less than we usually would. For some, this experience has been isolating - regardless of their age or background. Older people, who are more likely to be affected by Covid-19, may have been choosing to limit social contact even more than most, and with regular activities and events cancelled this has exacerbated existing loneliness in the community.

LinkAges is all about creating friendships and sharing stories across generational and cultural gaps, and we intend to continue doing that this year. Friends with Pens is our intergenerational penpal project. It is an opportunity for two people who enjoy writing, one student and one older person in the Bristol community, to get to know each other through letter writing. Additionally, we run 'Phone Pals' which connects volunteers and older people as they share phone calls together and get to know each other.

We are also working hard with our community partners to establish virtual and in-person activities for 2022/23, including Tech and Talk sessions in which student volunteers support older people with technology queries, a life stroies project to celebrate the experiences of older people and the life they have lived, and virtual events in which students deliver talks and/or workshops on a topic of their choosing. There is also an opportunity to get involved in one-off opportunities this year, such as sending Christmas cards, arts and crafts and homemade gifts to those feeling alone.

If you have any questions about opportunities with LinkAges, or have suggestions for activities, don't hesitate to reach out to Will, our Projects Officer, on [email protected]

Why do we run LinkAges?

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.

Older people are more likely to be impacted by social isolation and there is significant evidence on the negative implications of this. The effect of loneliness and isolation on mortality is comparable to the impact of well-known risk factors such as obesity, and has a similar influence as cigarette smoking.

But we also know that intergenerational activities are incredibly beneficial for older people. They can reduce feelings of loneliness, as well as increasing empathy, understanding and reducing negative attitudes between the old and the young. In a study conducted by Age UK and the University of Kent “The most powerful type of contact, with the highest potential to improve attitudes, is direct contact via intergenerational friendship” (Abrams, Eilola, & Swift, 2009). What’s most staggering is that this contact is also seen to improve older adults' performance on cognitive tests - this impact is more than just social.

Here's what some of the residents have said:

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.

Your volunteering 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 schedule. When you apply, you'll have the chance to select what activity you are most interested in. Please note, some of these activities have limited spaces so we can't always guarantee you a place at your first choice.

Depending on the activity and time of week, you may be volunteering as a group or an individual at your placement.

When you become a volunteer for LinkAges you will be part of a community of volunteers, and will also have the chance to attend events and socials.

Hear what our volunteers say:

I’ve never seen a resident walk away without a smile on their face.

I have noticed that the individuals appear more happy and are always glad to see us when we arrive. I believe that they are finding the group very beneficial and I have noticed that some individuals are getting better at the tasks.

All the residents have been so positive about the memory group. The way it is informally structured makes it feel both relaxing and worthwhile. Also the group of other student volunteers in this activity are really lovely which definitely makes it more enjoyable.

If you want to hear more about our volunteers experiences, you can read our case studies.

Training and support

To ensure you are equipped with the right knowledge and confident to start volunteering, you will attend a training session. It covers an introduction to elderly isolation in Bristol, dementia awareness, how the project works and an opportunity to learn some skills that will be valuable to you as a volunteer. Dependent on your placement you may also want to attend training on behaviour management. We occasionally run optional training throughout the year on topics and skills that will support your volunteering and benefit your CV.

This volunteering 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, therapy or community outreach and development work. We've found that this project can significantly develop the following skills:

  • Communication and interpersonal skills
  • Confidence
  • Adaptability
  • An understanding of dementia and how best to support people living with dementia
  • Safeguarding for vulnerable adults

We are happy to provide a reference to anyone who takes part in the project.

Throughout the programme you can contact a staff member at any point if you would like additional support, or have a concern. The staff team will also be in touch with you during your volunteering to get feedback, which is required from all volunteers so we can continue to improve the programme.

What our volunteers have said about training:

The training was in-depth whilst also being enjoyable which made it more memorable. There has also been appropriate support throughout the role.

Accessibility and inclusion

Bristol Hub is committed to making our activities inclusive to all students.

At Student Hubs, we believe that a disability is defined as a physical or mental health condition, due to human diversity, that leads to an individual facing barriers and oppression due to the disabling world (The Social Model of Disability). These barriers may be attitudinal, physical or organisational barriers.

We can make reasonable adjustments to application processes, training sessions, volunteering projects and other activities on a case-by-case basis. We also provide ongoing support for the students we work with, so if you have particular accessibility needs, including special educational needs, please email [email protected] and let us know how we can make this activity more accessible. We ensure that all our activites, training and events are safe spaces, you can read more about our Safe Space Policy.

This project won't cost you! We reimburse all travel expenses and DBS checks for volunteers on our projects.

Other support

Volunteering for Bristol Hub is social and you’ll have the chance to meet many like-minded people. If you are apprehensive about getting involved, you can always chat to our staff team beforehand.

If you are worried about attending alone, why not ask a friend to sign up with you too? We have had a lot of positive stories of friends volunteering together.

Joe and Brandon, two of our volunteers that joined together said:

Volunteering with a friend is a lot less daunting. It’s a lot easier to get involved as well if you have someone next to you or sitting with you that you already know. If you get socially anxious as well you aren’t as comfortable in those situations and it helps to have someone next to you that you know. It makes the whole process easier. It was wholesome for us and it inspired our friends to go and do something similar.


Email [email protected] and a staff member will be able to answer any questions. If you are concerned about covid-19, you can read our current covid-19 guidelines for more information.

The Bristol PLUS Award

Students can get recognition for taking part in extra-curricular events and projects run by Bristol Hub through the Bristol PLUS award, which is run by the Careers Service.

The Award provides a framework for students to reflect on the skills they have gained and learn how to articulate them effectively to future employers. For more details and learn how the PLUS Award could benefit you please see the Careers website.

Strategic Partners

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