Nov 24

Voluntary work – Many more older people want to use their free time helping others

In our parent’s and grandparent’s day there was a certain sort of public-spirited type who was involved in voluntary charity work, running community events and institutions like the local hospital.

They were often described as ‘do gooders’, not very generously.


Voluntary work in the UK

Woman volunteering in a charity shop

But it’s all different now.  Voluntary work in the UK could almost be described as cool. It is a growth industry with many people retiring from professional jobs wishing to use their new-won free time in a worthwhile way, getting out and helping others.

Official statistics said that the proportion of people volunteering at least once a year has increased to 71 per cent in 2012, up from 65 per cent in 2010. And I bet that percentage has grown again in the last three years.

Everyone benefits – the charities and the public

Because the retiree is living longer it means that being a volunteer could stretch right into the 80s and beyond for an increasing number of people.

There are lots of opportunities for the 55+ in their last years of work. The old Community Service Volunteers (CSV) has changed to Volunteering Matters (VM), the largest volunteering charity in the country, organising helpers of every age in the community. According to government statistics, 79 per cent of those surveyed said they belong strongly to their neighbourhood.

VM regularly advertises for ‘grand mentors’ for young people with troubled backgrounds who can benefit from support and advice from an older person in finding work, training or more education.

Don’t know where to start? Experienced some disappointing volunteering?

Contact, it’s a brilliant organisation that tries to match via the internet experienced men and women with an appropriate charity, as part time, unpaid helpers – or trustees. I am glad to have found two volunteer roles with its help.

Are you interested in becoming a volunteer? Maybe you would like to share your experience? Let us know in the comments section below.

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