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Civic Participation & Employment

Older people can access the work and volunteering opportunities that they want.


An Age-friendly City provides opportunities for older people to contribute to their communities through different channels including informal and formal volunteering, charities, and through paid employment, if they so choose.  

Some older people work and volunteer to keep busy and stay connected with their communities; however, others need to carry on working as a financial necessity. It is important to bear this in mind when we are thinking about the work and volunteering opportunities older people want to be doing.  
We believe that older people make a net contribution to their community if they have the opportunities to get involved. Our aim is to improve community contributions made by older people, both by supporting individuals to use their existing skills and addressing common barriers to participating. 


Factors affecting Civic Participation & Employment 

Involvement in local decision making 

In the 2017 Quality of Life survey, only 27% of respondents aged 50+ believed that they could influence decisions affecting their local area. When asked specifically about decisions relating to the public services they use, only 19% believed they could influence these decisions. These figures appear to have remained steady over the last decade and are both in line with the average for all ages in Bristol.

Volunteering and Community Contributions

In the 2017 Quality of Life survey, 76% of respondents aged 50 and over volunteered or helped out in their community at least three times per year however this often depends on personal cicumstances, including, lack of confidence, health problems, and lack of awareness of opportunities. The research also found that people who had good relationships with neighbours and their community felt most comfortable contributing to their communities. A number of interviewees noted that they increased their involvement when they were connected to a group such as a place of worship, social club or activity. 


The 2011 Census indicates that only 9% of respondents aged 65 – 74 years old in Bristol were in employment, either full-time, part-time or self-employed, which is in line with the national average for this age group. As the statutory retirement age increases, this figure will also increase, but it’s important to remember that a large number of older people can’t afford to retire, especially given the socioeconomic disparity across Bristol, and the fact that the cost of living has increased dramatically over recent years. Employers need to offer greater flexibility to older workers, and could draw on national good practice such as the recent Centre for Ageing Better report Becoming an age-friendly employer.


Key Actions 

  • Promote the findings from the Centre for Ageing Better’s Community Contributions in Later Life report and implement the proposed routes to action from the Bristol findings.
  • Bristol Older People’s Forum and The Care Forum to develop the Voice and Influence Partnership to improve channels for older people to contribute to decisions
  • Support older people to be involved in age-friendly action groups to find practical solutions to Bristol’s age-friendly challenges.
  • Use Bristol’s Community Development for Older people projects to raise awareness of activities and opportunities.
  •  Investigate further opportunities to support employment issues for older people. 



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Age-friendly Bristol

An age-friendly city is a city that encourages active ageing by optimising opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance the quality of life as people age - World Health Organisation

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The Partnership

Age-friendly Bristol is a partnership made up of Bristol Ageing Better, Age UK Bristol and Bristol City Council.

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The World Health Organisation have developed a framework for tackling such wide ranging issues in a way which is designed to improve the quality of life of older people – the Age-friendly City network.

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