Two-fifths of older people are doing their bit for charities and their communities by engaging in voluntary work. A poll by the Royal Voluntary Service found that one in five – around 2.2 million people over the age of 60 – help out with at least two different charities.
The research found that more than a million (11%) volunteer for three or more charities, with hundreds of thousands (6%) helping four or more good causes.
Men are most likely to volunteer their services to health charities or local football clubs, with women more likely to help children’s charities or lunch clubs.
The vast majority (83%) of the volunteers said they help because they believe charity work is important. Half of those polled said it helps them as they enjoy having a purpose in life.
The Royal Voluntary Service’s chief executive David McCullough said mature volunteers were helping to make a ‘huge difference’ to the lives of others in communities across the country. He said: ‘Many people may believe that retirement is an opportunity to sit back and relax but on the contrary, thousands of older people are committed to helping as many people as they can.’
After they leave their full time job and “retire” many people are not ready to do nothing and want to give something back to their community. You can also keep the positives from being in work such as friendship, teamwork, status, a sense of belonging and achievement. With so many of us being in good health for longer, volunteering can be beneficial in all respects.
Of course, if you do make a commitment to helping out in a charity shop or local society you cannot let other people down, but then most people who do give up their time are already conscientious and caring.
Use your skills
If you have professional skills, you can use these to help train and mentor others. Plenty of opportunities exist if you feel that you have something to offer – advice, experience, or just time, there are so many ways to help. Here are some of the various ways to get in touch:
- Your local council will probably have someone who is responsible for liaising with local voluntary organisations
- The library will also have information on opportunities
- The local paper will, from time to time at least, have advertisements by local voluntary groups
- Many high streets now have premises run by the local voluntary charities and staffed by volunteers who will advise you of opportunities in your area.
You can make a real difference to your local community, or if you want you can export your talents abroad.
Voluntary Work – Volunteering Overseas
Many people now take a ‘gap year’ before they settle down to retirement – it’s not just the young who do it!
One of the ways in which many of us spend this gap year is to do voluntary work overseas, in which there is a large and ever-expanding range of opportunities. In fact, with some organisations there is the chance to spend up to two years on a project, or go for a shorter term of around five weeks.
So there is a wide range of opportunities to do all kinds of projects and, for as long as you wish. They provide us with the chance to experience something completely new, and to have an adventure before we settle down to retirement. It is, of course, also an opportunity to make a real difference to people’s lives.
Most of us probably remember VSO, Voluntary Service Overseas and may have put ourselves forward when we were younger. VSO is still going strong and their upper age limit for volunteering is 70. You can volunteer for periods of a few weeks up to two years, so why not have a look at their website and see what vacancies are available?
By Patricia Vine
Do you volunteer? It would be good to hear about what you do and what you get from it. Please do get in touch and tell us.