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Planning Retirement Online

Volunteers' Stories

From IVS, the International Voluntary Service

Founded in 1931, IVS is a non-profit organisation that promotes peace and social justice through volunteering.

This article series will bring you stories from their volunteers about their inspirational experiences helping local communities in the UK and around the world.

A Trip back in time with the International Voluntary Service

Volunteer Laurie Naumann has participated in many projects over the years. Recently he returned to the Scottish island of Fair Isle where he got the chance to see how the island had developed and benefited from his volunteer work back in 1965. Here he talks about his memories and revisiting Fair Isle.

Fair Isle is probably two-thirds sheep! There is one post office with a few amenities and an observatory that’s quite fantastic. Our job was to construct ditches for sheep dip as well as other manual tasks to help the farmers out.

Many of the younger islanders at the time would leave to find work elsewhere, so our work was critical in keeping the farm running and ensuring the community stayed on the island. When I recently returned I could see the ditches we dug still being used. It really does amaze me to think that they got 40 years of continuous use out of our work.

Through volunteering, I developed an interest in social services and work. This has been something that has stayed with my through my life and that I have passed on to my 8 children and 9 grandchildren. It also helped to develop a good work ethic as our work was demanding and very physical.
I’ve participated in other voluntary projects since then, Sweden and Lincolnshire being the most recent. Two of my sons are also active volunteers and I am also on the board of IVS.

Voluntary work is critical to the way that the world operates. Volunteers have an enormous gain in understanding for others and an appreciation for them also. I have friends that have retired and yet have spent years overseas volunteering and remaining active and useful for others. The world would be a much worse place without genuine volunteering.

It’s also much easier for people now. They receive a lot of support and are able to travel all over the world to the places that they are needed.


Visit the Laterlife Interest Index for more Volunteer Stories

If you are over 50 and want to volunteer with IVS please contact
Our projects in 60 countries worldwide are open to volunteers of all ages and can be accessed here.

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Karen Laister from Oxfordshire visited Fort Kochi in Kerala, India in November 2016. She had visited India previously on a work trip, fallen in love with the country and was keen to return.

A field report from Russia

Hello! My name is Emily a volunteer for Interra.

I arrived in Krasnoyarsk on Sunday and I will live, work and study here for the next six months.

This is my first time in Siberia! While I’m here, I will run English and German language clubs, events and presentations relating to British culture, as well as generally helping with the everyday work of Interra and the various projects it runs.
Apart from that, I’m looking forward to meeting lots of local people, improving my Russian, visiting other Russian cities and going hiking in the Stolby nature reserve!


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