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Older people are generous
with their time

October 2016

A recent report from the Royal Voluntary Service says that while older people are already very generous with their time, more needs to be done to entice older adults to consider volunteering as a normal part of their lives.

At the moment older people already contribute around 1.4 billion hours a year to volunteer activities and it seems nearly half of us in the age group between 55 and 74 volunteer in one aspect or another.

That is no small number and reflects well on our age group. However, the RVS say research has identified that 39% of adults in Great Britain will be over 55 years by 2020 – in just four years time. And while many of them are still in employment or part time work, nevertheless there is real scope to increase further the number of volunteer hours contributed by this sector.

David McCullough, chief executive of Royal Voluntary Service said: “Older people have so much to offer; their experience, skills and talents would be worth a fortune in the job market, yet many choose to be generous with their time and volunteer. Sadly we are failing to realise and harness this talent as much as we could. We need to do more to motivate older adults to volunteer which will provide the help that is so desperately needed and at the same time, will give them an opportunity to meet new people and to remain active and engaged in their local community.

“Volunteering in retirement should be normalised so it becomes a little like work experience for young people,” he said. “It should be a must have part of their post work plans.”

To encourage more older people to volunteer, the RVS has identified a set of recommendations including:

  • Voluntary sector organisations need to try to provide a more fluid and flexible experience for their volunteers. This includes working harder to match the talents, experience, aspirations and needs of volunteers and would-be volunteers with opportunities.

  • The growth of informal and more localized forms of volunteering means that national voluntary organisations need to change their structures to make it easier for local volunteers to take part.

  • The UK and devolved governments should raise the profile and promote volunteering as people approach State Pension Age with literature and on-line promotional material encouraging more volunteering in this age group.

  • The benefits of health and well-being of volunteering should be promoted through GPs and other NHS outlets. There may be cases where a GP could ‘prescribe’ volunteering.

  • More employers (public and private sector) should think about promoting and providing volunteering opportunities to their staff as part of a pre-retirement plan for their employees.

 Reports from people who volunteer are on the whole totally positive, saying that volunteering not only helps others but helps themselves as well through a feeling of contributing, adding a regular activity into their schedule and giving them the opportunity to meet new friends.

Colin Bruce (66 years old) was a former Control Officer for the Ambulance Service and now drives for the RVS. He said: “When I retired, I could have lounged around and put my feet up but I wanted to stay active and have a sense of purpose. I was keen for my life to have meaning and to use the skills that I had been practicing throughout my 30 year career with the Ambulance Service to use.

“I drive older people in Leicester wherever they need to go, whether that’s to a hospital appointment, or a nursing home to see relatives – they are in my care from the moment I pick them up to the moment I drop them off and I take great pleasure in helping them out. I’d recommend volunteering to anyone with spare time on their hands since retiring, there really is no end of ways to support vulnerable older people and it’s great to know you are giving something back to your local community.”

Here in Laterlife we regularly carry stories about volunteers plus a regular feature on IVS; but it is easy to find volunteer opportunities in google and other search engines. Finding an animal or specific charity such as the Red Cross or Marie Curie that has special interest to you can always be a good start to find out about volunteering opportunities; but there are a lot of general opportunities as well. A few of these include:

Royal Voluntary Service

Community Christmas

Projects Abroad

Seniors Network

 


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