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Exploring the long-term impact of a peer volunteering scheme focused on active ageing in socially disengaged, inactive older adults on both the older adults and peer volunteers.

Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

Manchester United Kingdom Epidemiology Health Informatics Other

About the Project

As people get older their physical functioning, and in particular their mobility, decreases. This leads to a vicious circle whereby people become less active and, as a result, even less mobile. This affects health, ability to live independently, quality of life and even how long people live. Active ageing programmes help older people who are at risk of such decline to improve or maintain their mobility through physical activity. However, at a national level, resources are scarce. The voluntary sector is ideally placed to mobilise older adults as volunteers to deliver active ageing programmes. Unfortunately, little evidence exists for such community-based programmes.

The Active, Connected and Engaged (ACE) programme is a low-cost, real-world, and sustainable programme, where older volunteers support their peers to improve their mobility by becoming more active within their communities. It ensures a flexible and meaningful experience for the peer volunteers, and it may have a positive impact on their physical and mental well-being as well as that of the participants. A feasibility study has confirmed that ACE was well-received by participants and volunteers.

As part of a large trial we will evaluate the usefulness and value for money of the 6-month ACE programme by delivering it in the West Midlands, Manchester and Wales. All participants and volunteers will complete measurements at the start of the study and 6, 12 and 18 months later. This PhD will explore the longer term impact of the programme on both the participants and the volunteers after the original one year follow-up in the main study. It will incorporate mixed methods research including interviews/focus groups with local stakeholders and the impact of ACE on their initiatives alongside the impact on participant and volunteers with a particular focus on the Manchester site. As this is a Greater Manchester Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) funded PhD it will focus particularly on whether increased activity, reduced sedentary behaviour, community engagement and decreased loneliness and isolation are maintained in the long term (18 months post intervention).

Entry Requirements

Applicants are expected to hold, or about to obtain, a minimum upper second class undergraduate degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject area/discipline. A Master’s degree in a relevant subject and/or experience in ageing, physical activity or public health is desirable.

For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website ( Informal enquiries may be made directly to the primary supervisor. You MUST also submit an online application form.

Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester, and is at the heart of all of our activities. The full Equality, diversity and inclusion statement can be found on the website

Funding Notes

NIHR ARC -GM studentship funded by the Doctoral Academy and School of Health Sciences. Studentship funding is for a duration of three years to commence in September 2021 and covers UK tuition fees and an annual minimum stipend.

Funding will cover UK tuition fees/stipend only. The University of Manchester aims to support the most outstanding applicants from outside the UK. We are able to offer a limited number of scholarships that will enable full studentships to be awarded to international applicants. These full studentships will only be awarded to exceptional quality candidates, due to the competitive nature of this funding.


Stathi, A., Withall, J., Thompson, J.L., Davis, M.G, Gray, S., de Koning, J., Parkhurst, G.,
Lloyd, L., Greaves, C., Laventure, R., and Fox, K.R. Feasibility trial evaluation of a peer volunteering
active ageing intervention: ACE (Active, Connected, Engaged). The Gerontologist, 2019.

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