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UK honours older volunteers
01 March 2005

London: The impact of the five million over-50s who take part in unpaid work within their communities each year is set to be highlighted throughout March as part of the Year of the Volunteer 2005 campaign.

From abseiling grandparents to volunteer knitters and health care helpers, the time given by over-50s volunteers is worth £5 billion a year to the economy.

To honour the achievements of Britain’s over-50s, March has been declared “Older People” month and follows a successful celebration of the nation’s younger volunteers in February.

Events taking place during the month include a national knitting initiative, which will give older volunteers the chance to donate knitted garments and toys to children’s hospitals and premature baby units, a photographic exhibition of older volunteers in action and the launch of a video highlighting the volunteering opportunities available for the over-50s.

In addition to helping others, statistics show that volunteering can benefit older volunteers in many ways, including making new friends, gaining self confidence, losing weight and living healthier lives.

More than half of over-65s say volunteering has improved their health and fitness and 62 per cent say volunteering helps reduce stress.

The work of older volunteers in surgeries is also known to help free up doctors to concentrate on their medical case-loads.

Denise Murphy, director of Community Service Volunteers’ Retired Service Volunteer Programme (RSVP), said: “Throughout the UK the contribution made by older volunteers to their communities is enormous.

“Older volunteers bring a wealth of experience and skills to community activity whether they have been the chief executive of a business or a housewife caring for children.

“The wisdom and life experience of older volunteers means that they are not only able to offer their time as a volunteer, but can also offer their organizational expertise.”

Year of the Volunteer 2005 is led by a partnership between CSV and the Volunteering England Consortium, and is supported by UK's Home Office.

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From: News Scotsman