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A&E patients and children behind with their reading are among those that will benefit from funding for volunteers aged fifty and over in communities across the UK.

Ten organisations will share £740,000 from Nesta and the Office for Civil Society (OCS) to test the scope for 50+ volunteers and establish best practice when it comes to retaining their time and talents.

As part of the Give More Get More fund, five organisations will trial intensive volunteering placements for people aged fifty and over. The Join In Stay In fund, a partnership with the Behavioural Insights Team, will involve another five organisations undertaking Randomised Controlled Trials (RCTs) to understand what works best in encouraging volunteers to continue to give their time regularly.  

The funds are intended to provide new insights on encouraging more people to give their time as volunteers, alongside paid professionals, and how this approach can complement public services. Nesta’s work reveals that many people in later life are keen to give back but are looking for new ways to do so that fit in with their work, caring responsibilities and leisure. The new innovative approaches funded today will inform and improve opportunities for the voluntary sector.

Lydia Ragoonanan, Senior Programme Manager at Nesta said: “The two funds offer an opportunity to demonstrate and scale the impact that people over fifty can add to the communities they live in; whether that be through more intensive volunteering or through more people giving their time more regularly.  The lessons will not only help deliver better public services, but also remove some of the barriers for people fifty and over getting involved in services they care about.”  

The Give More Get More grantees are:

  • Beanstalk (£100,000): The national children’s literacy charity will recruit volunteers to deliver four times a week intensive support to children who are behind with their reading and develop a new volunteer Mentor scheme for newly trained reading helpers.

  • Genesis Housing Association (£100,000): The London-based housing association will recruit and train at least 100 volunteer Wellbeing Mentors to give three days a week over four months in support of 100 people living on the association’s housing estates with moderate to medium mental health needs.

  • King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (£99,986): Volunteers giving 15 hours a week for six months will support A&E staff from the first point of contact until the patient is discharged and where appropriate accompany and follow-up with patients in their home.

  • North Tyneside VODA (£98,388): The Voluntary Organisation’s Development Agency will recruit 120 volunteers to undertake an intensive three-month programme of volunteering. Working in teams of 12-15, volunteers will design, plan and deliver a series of community projects.

  • Volunteering Matters (£99,335): The national volunteering charity will enable volunteers to support disabled young people aged 16–24 in transition from education and who are ineligible for continuing health/social care support. Volunteers will give two days a week over three months.

The Join In Stay In grantees are:

  • Marine Conservation Society (£50,000): Will engage volunteers in conversation and beach clearing activities in three-four coastal towns in England.

  • Family Mosaic Housing Association (£45,720) : Will partner with other housing trusts to mentor people in need, to befriend isolated people, and contribute to community improvement and clean-up schemes.

  • Barnardos (£50,000): Will use volunteers to renovate children's centres and support children through a wide range of volunteering roles, such as mentoring and support roles.

  • Leicester City Council (£50,000):  Will engage volunteers to improve the environment of public parks and other open spaces across the county.

  • CSW Group Ltd (£50,000): Volunteers will help improve the access to, and use of community transport options across Somerset

The Join In Stay In and Give More Get More funds sit alongside the Second Half, Early Years Social Action and Savers Support Funds that aim to mobilise volunteers to tackle specific social challenges. More details of these and their grantees is available at

The funds follow on from Nesta and the Office for Civil Society’s Centre for Social Action Innovation Fund which ran from 2013-16 and mobilised volunteers to work alongside public services. An evaluation of the 52 projects’ funded is available on the Nesta website and showed that it mobilised 70,000 volunteers to support 175,000 people.


About Nesta: Nesta is a global innovation foundation. Our mission is to spark and shape new ideas to improve how the world works for everyone. We use our knowledge, networks, funding and skills to take on big challenges, working in partnership with others to make change happen. We are a UK charity and our work is enabled by a financial endowment. Nesta is a registered charity in England and Wales 1144091 and Scotland SC042833.

For more information contact Laura Scruby in Nesta’s press office on 020 7438 2697/2543,  [email protected]