Ageing, place and voluntarism: towards a geographical perspective on third sector organisations and volunteers in ageing communities

This article addresses the gap within discourses on ageing that call for greater involvement of the third sector in support of older people, but do not account for the difference ‘place’ makes to understanding third sector activities and volunteering. It reviews recent developments
in the literature that highlight the importance of place-based approaches, particularly the emergent view of voluntarism as a transformative process that shapes and is shaped by the interactions between older people and their ageing communities. The link between ageing, place and voluntarism
is illustrated via a case study of volunteer-based community support for older people in Canada’s most rapidly ageing municipality. Findings from an inventory, survey, focus groups and interviews in Peterborough, Ontario reveal the complexity, interdependence and place-embeddedness behind
a successful yet potentially unsustainable response to the challenge of supporting older people. The paradox of relying on under-resourced third sector organisations and older volunteers is highlighted.

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