The benefits of volunteering for older volunteers and for the organisations who host them is well-documented. The impact of being obliged to leave volunteering due to age-related conditions, and any challenges that this creates for volunteer managers, are under-researched. This study explored how volunteers and volunteer managers experienced this point in the volunteering lifecycle and whether the topic warranted further research. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with fourteen older people, who were (or had been) volunteers at one of three cultural heritage organisations in the north-east of England alongside seven volunteer managers from those organisations. These represented the diversity of heritage organisations in the region. Volunteers discussed leaving volunteering in terms of loss but also indicated that forms of personal appraisal and agency were possible, ameliorating the impact of leaving. Volunteer managers discussed how organisational frameworks and the relationships they formed with volunteers shaped their practices. These relationships created a sense of organisational reciprocity which led some managers to exceed the rules in order to sustain people in their volunteering. The results suggest that supporting personal agency could ameliorate the impact of leaving volunteering but that organisations would benefit from articulating the extent and the limits of that support.
ageing, wellbeing, volunteering, volunteer management, cultural heritage, semi-structured interviews
The authors would like to thank the Newcastle University Institute for Ageing and the Newcastle University Institute for Social Renewal for jointly funding the project. (Since the project ran both institutes have been either closed down or reconfigured.) The authors would like to acknowledge the contribution of the 3 partner organisations, their staff and volunteers. Without their willing participation and interest in the topic, the project would not have been possible.
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Recommended APA Citation
Davenport, B., Newman, A., & Moffatt, S. (2021). The Impact on Older People’s Wellbeing of Leaving Heritage Volunteering and the Challenges of Managing this Process. The Qualitative Report, 26(2), 334-351. https://doi.org/10.46743/2160-3715/2021.4499