The Abbeyfield Society, a leading charity providing accommodation and support for older people, is bucking the trend by welcoming hundreds of employees and volunteers over the age of 50 through its doors.
As of February 2023, over 50% of Abbeyfield’s staff were over 50 years of age. Almost 600 employees in this age bracket are employed in a diverse array of jobs at the charity, which manages nearly 100 care homes, supported housing schemes and independent living complexes nationwide. The most popular professional roles at Abbeyfield for the over-50s are frontline care assistants, general assistants and housekeepers, with a fair number also found in maintenance, activity coordination and office-based roles.
The Government have recently focused efforts towards encouraging early retirees to return to work, and urging employers to welcome them, following research by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), which indicated that the only 42% of 10 managers working in UK businesses and public services were open to hiring people over 50 ‘to a large extent’; when it came to people between the ages 18 and 34, the figure rose to 74%. In other words, the data suggests that the older someone gets, the fewer employment opportunities they have open to them.
Abbeyfield HR Director, Gail Manley, says, “We often find that those who look to join us are seeking a greater sense of purpose than their previous job could offer. The desire later in one’s life for a career change, to re-join the workforce after retirement, or to begin a fulfilling role in older people’s care and support are no barriers to employment at Abbeyfield, and we offer plenty of opportunity to those looking to join, even if they have few or no qualifications.
“Our fully-funded apprenticeships and an award-winning training programme help to advance the professional development of all our staff. Employees over 50 are just as welcome to take advantage as younger ones, and we have seen that this offer is appealing to them, with more than a dozen over-50s having express their interest in a funded apprenticeship with us.
“All employees also have access to our extensive range of benefits, including life assurance (up to the age of 70), medical cover, discounts at a variety of retail, accommodation, transport and entertainment brands, a competitive pension scheme and a generous £500 recommend a friend staff referral scheme.
“Finally, with a high proportion of women in our workforce, we were the first charity to receive official status as a Menopause Friendly Organisation, with various measures in place to make it easier for women experiencing menopause to thrive at work.”
In additional to Abbeyfield’s centrally managed homes, a further 300 houses and homes are run by independently managed Abbeyfield Member Societies, supporting over 5,000 residents. All of Abbeyfield’s Member Societies adopt the Abbeyfield ethos, including the readiness to hire older staff who can demonstrate the Abbeyfield values of companionship and advance the unique model of community-based living.
Abbeyfield’s welcoming environment, in which staff are considered a fundamental part of the ‘Abbeyfield Family’, ensures that older employees feel valued and can confidently assume a new role, with age as no hindrance.
Although Abbeyfield’s primary mission is to alleviate loneliness amongst its residents, loneliness is regularly experienced by many other over-50s, even if they do not feel ready to take the step into retirement living. The opportunity to work for the Abbeyfield can therefore help to relieve the effects of loneliness while providing a greater focus and a sense of direction, with a positive effect on one’s wellbeing.
Volunteering is another core Abbeyfield principle. Founded by its first volunteer Richard Carr-Gomm 67 years ago, the organisation today employs the services of over a great many of volunteers who bring their unique skills, personality and compassion to their Abbeyfield local house or home. Indeed, Abbeyfield Member Societies are governed exclusively by voluntary Trustees, and the most recent Abbeyfield data suggests that 98% of them are over 50 years of age. The experience and expertise that its members have garnered over the years is often seen as one of the greatest strengths of a Board of Trustees.
For those looking to give something back and take advantages of opportunities to improve one’s skills set or make a different to the lives of others, volunteering for Abbeyfield provides the means to make a valuable contribution to a charity, enhance the quality of life for older people and achieve fulfilment.
Abbeyfield is currently advertising a range of professional roles around the country, many of which are suited to the over-50s. To find out more about working for Abbeyfield and the jobs on offer, please visit www.abbeyfield.com/jobs. Those considering volunteering should visit www.abbeyfield.com/volunteering find out what it takes to be an Abbeyfield volunteer and the sorts of roles available.