Volunteering in retirement

07 October 2020

In a normal working week, there’s rarely enough time to spend hours helping out in the community. But the beauty of retirement is the free time you suddenly have to pursue your passions. From local charity shops to ambitious global projects, this guide will explore some of the most exciting volunteering opportunities for older adults.

Should I volunteer in retirement?

Whatever your interests, there are lots of good reasons to give something back in retirement.

  • Expand your social life – If you no longer have regular day-to-day interaction with colleagues, volunteering can help fill the gap and enable you to meet new people.
  • Explore hobbies – Most of us don’t have the luxury of earning a salary from our hobbies, but in retirement, you’re free to explore niche interests and meet like minded people.
  • Enhance your well being – Volunteering can increase brain activity, create social opportunities and reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Learn new skills – Ever wanted to improve your cooking, gardening or even skills like carpentry? Volunteering gives you the chance to share your expertise and learn something new.
  • Keep fit – Volunteering often involves physical activity, so it’s a good opportunity to stay fit and healthy.
  • Make a difference – As a volunteer you can help your community thrive and put a smile on people’s faces. 

What volunteering should I do?

There are so many types of voluntary work for over 60s that it’s hard to know where to begin. Before you get started, it’s a good idea to have a long, hard think about your skills, interests and abilities. If you’re an outgoing person who likes company, you’ll find plenty of face-to-face interaction in libraries, community gardens and with campaign group volunteers. But if you’re scared of heights and have a bad back, now might be the wrong time to join the mountain rescue team. Consider what your motivations are; for example, to meet people from different walks of life, to improve a neighbourhood you care about, or perhaps to find voluntary work for retired professionals and share your skills.

Volunteering opportunities for older adults

Looking for ideas? There are countless ways you can contribute, but here are some of the most popular places where volunteers give their time:

  • Animal shelters
  • Libraries
  • Community theatres
  • Wildlife centres
  • Charity shops
  • Homeless shelters
  • National parks
  • Community gardens
  • Sports teams
  • Youth centres
  • After-school clubs
  • Places of worship
  • Restoration projects 

In addition, plenty of volunteer work for over 60s caters for niche interests. From knitting clothes to working on a steam railway, there are endless people, groups and societies that need a helping hand. Use the internet to research where your interests are best served in your area, and where demand is highest.

Follow your passion

There’s no doubt that volunteering in retirement can bridge the generation divide and help you find a new purpose. While it may take a while to find the right opportunity, once you get started you’ll feel happier, healthier and motivated to make a difference. Doing good feels good, and it’s never too late to discover a new passion.