This seminar is part of the Centre for Welsh Politics and Society Seminar Series: Governance, Participation and Civil Society Theme and is presented by Dr Sophie Yarker, Dr Jesse Heley and Dr Laura Jones, Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, Aberystwyth University
The demographic trend of increased longevity has dovetailed in recent years with a ‘shifting landscape of voluntarism’ (Milligan and Condradson, 2006) and an increasing demand placed on the voluntary and community sector to deliver welfare and community services. Within rural areas the challenges of an ageing population and austerity are often deepened by an already reduced access to services as well as the isolation of communities leading to increased loneliness for some older residents. Policy responses to this have tended towards a concept of ‘active’ or ‘healthy’ ageing and have supported opportunities for ageing populations to participate actively in their communities as an all-round public-good. In addition, the Ageing Well in Wales programme has aimed to challenge perceptions of frailty and dependency within the older population and instead places an emphasis on older people as assets. Whereas previous research has tended to focus on the health and wellbeing gains of voluntary activities for older people, this paper will consider the broader array of benefits voluntary pursuits can bring individuals as well as the socio-economic positives brought to the wider communities and organisations concerned. In so doing the paper will suggest that we can understand the participation of older volunteers in civil society as practices of stewardship of place through and as contribution to the emergence of formal and informal spaces of care.