Vollpension impacts!

Vollpension impacts!

Social impact

One single cake-baking senior does not have any social impact (although a juicy chocolate cake can still do a lot…..in our opinion, at least). But if a senior threatened by loneliness gets out of their apartment thanks to baking and gets integrated in a social structure and support system, coming in contact with new friends, both young and old, has a task in everyday life and additionally earns some extra money to supplement their insufficient pension payment, then the seemingly simple activity of baking cakes becomes a political statement. Active involvement in our society at an older age, self-empowerment through a purposeful activity instead of old-age poverty, dialogue between generations instead of the growing gap between old and young in these times of increasing anonymisation in urban everyday life.

The reasons why our seniors find their way to our Vollpension are as diverse as they are themselves. Any way you look at it, we are all a unique and colourful bunch of life stories which can’t wait to be told.

Our intention and the thing about granny’s happiness

Even though things seem very chaotic and confusing at times, our intention has been and always remains very clear: We want to create a place where many different people are allowed to feel good. Where you meet at eye-level and break apart clichés.

Vollpension as social business

We manage Vollpension as a social business. For us, this means that we pursue social goals on one hand, but on the other, we build and manage a financially independent and sustainable business.

Old-age poverty in Austria

The extra income for our seniors increases their monthly disposable income on average by 40%.

Oldies not goldies! It’s hard to believe, but old-age poverty is a major problem in our wonderful country, where we have a high standard of living on many other levels, and where we are well off especially in comparison to other countries.


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Old-age poverty primarily affects female (but also male) pensioners due to various different reasons. We would like to demonstrate this with data provided in the gender index 2017 published by the Federal Ministry of Health and Women. Since women retire earlier than men and have a higher life expectancy, they account for 55% of all pensioners in Austria. There are, therefore, more women retired than men. Nevertheless, female pensioners earned on average €14,415 per year and thus only 68% of the income of retired men in 2015. In December 2016, women received compensatory allowance almost twice as often as men (cf. BMGF 2017: 33).

In 2017, according to Statistics Austria, 29% of all women older than 65 were at risk of poverty. The reasons for the often low pension income for women were, among other things, a low earned income in general, as well as a lack of contribution periods due to child-rearing and unpaid housework.


Those affected by old-age poverty are often very lonely. People with low incomes are unfortunately very often excluded from social activities. They cannot afford to meet friends in a café or take part in sports courses. Additionally, people who are retired face more difficulties in changing their financial situation because they have fewer chances on the labour market and are dependent on their pension payment amount.

So there is a strong relationship between old-age poverty and old-age loneliness.

Older people and loneliness

“Vollpension really has become the centre of my life…”, Mr Karl, OvD (grandpa on duty) Vollpension at Schleifmühlgasse 

Granny home alone? Not when we’re around!

In Austria, approx. 640,000 seniors (source: Statistics Austria) are alone. The majority of these live in an urban area. Single seniors are especially at risk of being affected by loneliness and isolation, and of falling out of social networks which could preventively counteract social loneliness and financial poverty.

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Very often, the centre of social relationships for older people is their family. If there is no family left any more, or if the family lives too far away, the seniors increasingly have fewer social contacts and their level of integration declines, which brings about a rise in isolation. Despite the family contacts, social contacts are usually linked to gainful employment and colleagues, or to leisure activities and hobbies, which are again dependent on their income situation. And so older people may be lonely because of, for instance, their family situation (loss of caregivers or significant relationships), their health condition, their socio-economic status or their living situation (cf. Preitler). Single retired women very often are confronted with a special financial and/or social challenge. Additionally, there are very few points of interaction between young and old in urban areas. This promotes the growing generation gap and prejudices between generations. The potential for mutual support and exchange of knowledge and experience can hardly be utilised this way.

Loneliness has objectively measurable as well as subjectively felt components. If you have less contact with people, you’re not necessarily lonely. However, people feel lonely if their reality (size of their social network, quality of their relationships) differs from their own needs and wishes (cf. Tesch-Römer). Loneliness exists in all age groups, although it is based on different reasons and has different consequences for the respective group.

A representative German study shows that in their 30s and 60s, people experience increased phases of loneliness on average, and from age 75 onwards, loneliness increases steadily (cf. Luhmann & Hawkley).
So the causes of loneliness in old age vary.

Increasing gap between generations

50% of our Vollpension team are people older than 60

A quick thought experiment for our valued urban reader: How often have you been chatting with someone who could be your grandma/grandpa or your grandson/granddaughter in the past few months? Very rarely or not at all, right?
More and more there is only brief interaction between young and old in our stressful everyday lives, a small smile or a less-than-friendly face on the bus or in the underground, or a quick hello to your elderly neighbour in the stairwell. However, it’s rarely the case that there is authentic, higher quality communication between young and old in an urban environment. This promotes the increasing generation gap and prejudices between the generations. The potential of mutual support and the exchange of knowledge and experience can hardly be used this way.

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More and more older people are living alone or in care homes. German studies prove that households with three or more generations account for less than one per cent of total households. At the same time, the residential distance between adult children and their parents has steadily increased in recent decades.

If older people are to have the possibility to take part in social life, we need to make mobility possible and create the respective infrastructure. Communities can do something to fight loneliness and the social isolation of older people if there are meeting points, multiple-generation residential facilities and the possibility to take part in social life. The rule of thumb for infrastructure and offers for older people is that they must be reachable within 20 minutes in order to be attractive to them.

Digitalisation in part brings new hope regarding the exchange between generations. Although people of a higher age (75+) do not use the internet very often, younger generations (65+) are significantly more open to digitalisation, and are often online.

But regardless of offline or online: loneliness can be avoided through contact and social togetherness. This is why it’s important to promote and include the planning of public spaces for an exchange between young and old in social development. Communities, districts, individuals or organisations can play an important role in this. Adequate infrastructure can create social places where all generations feel comfortable. Seating areas, community centres or, in general, rooms without compulsory purchases can provide financially weaker people the opportunity to take part in public life.

Together, not alone in old age
It is much easier to be together than alone. Loneliness is one of the big issues for elderly people in big cities. We think that this need not be the case, and this is why we are there for each other.
Additional income instead of old-age poverty
Growing old in poverty? Well, guys, yes, this is the bitter reality for many elderly people around us. We create purposeful possibilities to add some income to the too-low pension they very often receive.
Promoting a dialogue between generations
Eating brings people together. Old and young, regardless of where you come from, regardless of who you are: the most important thing is that we show respect and empathy for each other. Let’s get to know each other, and learn from one another!
Baking for world peace
We think cakes are great. A cake baked with love by a granny can perhaps even save the world. And in our case, it can definitely bring people together.