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Planning Retirement Online

 Voluntary Work



Volunteer Teaching DIY to boyThe benefits that work provides are, with the exception of money, the same whether the work is paid or voluntary. If you have forgotten what some of those benefits are, go to the main Work section page and have a look. In fact, some of these benefits are heightened if we are working without any financial reward. For example, the feeling that we are contributing to society, even though we are in our later life, is one that can be enhanced if we are doing it for nothing.


The whole range of jobs is open to us in the voluntary sector. So, we can choose something that is either predominantly physical in effort or mental; we can choose a sedentary role or one that is much more active; we can interact with people or perform a role that is essentially individual; we can be outside or indoors. We will not necessarily find our ideal role straight away, but given some patience and persistence we will find it sooner or later.


For some more information about working in the voluntary sector, you should read our Guide to Voluntary Work. We also have a very useful page on Voluntary Organisations that will help you to find the opportunities in your area and even overseas and will direct you to some helpful websites and organisations.

What are the Options?

Volunteering Articles...

See the extensive index of volunteering articles, including our Reports from the Reach files which provide examples of volunteering jobs aligned to your skills.


As you have just read, the whole range of roles is open to us in the voluntary sector but we need to think about what type of organisation to volunteer with.


Some of the larger charities are very much like corporate employers so, if you are happy in that environment, one of the big charities might suit you very well. On the other hand, if you feel that you want a change after a career in big organisations, you need to think about working for a small organisation or even on your own.


Working on your own is very much an option with voluntary work. So, if you like gardening, for example, you can go round to the homes of elderly people in your neighbourhood and help them with their garden. The same is true if you are good at DIY; you can volunteer to help them with the jobs around the house that they maybe cannot do themselves.


If you want something in between these two extremes, look for something locally such as driving a community mini-bus or something similar. Do think about what kind of work you want to do in what kind of organisation, or outside an organisation, before you commit yourself.


Your voluntary work might take the form of being on a committee of some sort. If you belong to a club of some sort, you could become secretary, treasurer or some other club official. You could join (or start) the Neighbourhood Watch Scheme and help with that. You could become a magistrate or a school governor or become a parish councillor. There are many choices when it comes to helping with clubs that you belong to or more generally with your local community.



One of the good things about retirement is the flexibility that it gives us to do what we want to do when we want to do it. Making a commitment to voluntary work reduces this flexibility, so we need to think carefully how much of our it we want to give away. There are voluntary roles that do allow more flexibility than others. For example, going on a roster for driving the community mini-bus may allow you to sign up for whatever times you feel that you want to do on a month by month basis. Many of the Good Neighbours schemes allow you to be flexible and to work more or less when you want to. There is an organisation called REACH, that seeks to match people's skills to voluntary jobs, some of them flexible in nature, so take a look at the Reach page to find out more about them.


Getting the balance between flexibility and commitment can sometimes be difficult, so think about where you want the balance and then choose an appropriate voluntary role.

Voluntary Work Overseas


More people in later life are now volunteering for overseas assignments than they have for many years. We want to have our 'gap year', which most of us probably missed out on when we were young. There are numerous opportunities for doing voluntary work overseas and a google search on 'Voluntary work overseas' will reveal a multitude of organisations to you. There is also a page on volunteering overseas in our Guide to Voluntary Work, so have a look at that, too.



Volunteering can be very rewarding and can help us to feel that we are still useful members of society, even though we are retired and/or in our later life. The opportunities for voluntary work are legion, both in this country and overseas but we must be careful that we choose the right kind of voluntary work for us as individuals.


It can be a big commitment, so if it's not right for us, we probably won't be as enthusiastic about it as we should be and that will be to the detriment of everyone concerned. So give it some thought, read the pages and the Guide that are linked to this page and choose the best role that you can for you.


If you would like to do some earn some money in retirement with a new employer,  go to our page on Paid Work or go to our page on Staying at Work if you want to remain where you are . Our Starting Your Own Business pages will help if you want to be self-employed. Here is the Introduction to our Work section.

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