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Planning Retirement Online

Voluntary Work in Later Life

If you feel that you have something to offer - advice, experience, or just time, then there are lots of ways to help. But how do you get in touch with voluntary organisations? Below we provide a small selection of UK organisations that may be of interest to you. Also, take a look at our Guide to Voluntary Work. Firstly, however, there are many local sources of information:


  • Your local council will probably have someone who is responsible for liaising with local voluntary organisations, so ask them.
  • The library will also have information
  • The local paper will, from time to time at least, have advertisements by local voluntary organisations
  • Many high streets now have a premises run by the local voluntary organisations and staffed by volunteers who will advise you of opportunities in your area.


Go to www.do-it.org.uk and search for your nearest volunteer bureau. The web site enables you to search by post code for any particular interest you have in the voluntary sector. Many of the organisations that you will find are members of The National Association of Volunteer Bureaux, whom you will see mentioned on many of the web sites.

REACHDonate your professional skills

Do you have professional experience in areas such as management, IT, finance, project management, communications, mentoring, fundraising, accountancy, marketing or HR? If so, please consider donating your skills to a charity which relies on experience like yours to grow, prosper, and in some cases, survive.

For over 32 years, the charity Reach has been helping retired, skilled people find interesting and challenging opportunities with voluntary organisations where their talents are urgently needed and highly valued. Busy people with a just a small amount of time to give and an interest in continuing to use and develop their career skills for the benefit of a worthwhile cause are welcome to take advantage of this free service

Our series Reports from the Reach files profiles different people and the voluntary work activities they got involved in via Reach - this can give you a real feel for the variety of ways you might become involved.

For more information about the wide range of volunteering opportunities they offer throughout the UK contact REACH on 020 7582 6543 or see the REACH website.

Vitalise has volunteering and sighted guide opportunities. Its main activities are providing breaks for disabled people and carers at five accessible sites throughout the UK and running holidays for visually impaired people. They are always looking for volunteers at the centres to provide support and companionship for their guests and for sighted guides to accompany their visually impaired guests on holiday.

Volunteering England works to promote volunteering as a powerful force for change, both for those who volunteer and for the wider community. This web site offers a range of resources for anyone who works with or manages volunteers as well as to those who want to volunteer. If you live in Wales, go to www.volunteering-wales.net to find out about volunteering in Wales. Likewise, click on www.volunteerscotland.org.uk for opportunities in Scotland.

If you want to volunteer for overseas work, go to www.vso.org.uk. Volunteers can be aged up to 75 and, since their merger with BESO in 2005, they now offer short-term assignments. Volunteering overseas can be tremendously rewarding and, if you feel adventurous, look at the web site.

Another interesting site for voluntary work overseas is www.gapsforgrumpies.com This organisation provides the over 40s with the opportunity to do five-week community development projects with similarly grumpy middle-aged/older people in one of five countries – Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Peru or Fiji. You can then stay on for a two to three week holiday/safari/adventure in that country. To find out more, ring 07983 580844.

The National Association for Voluntary and Community Action is, to quote from them, 'the national voice of local voluntary and community sector infrastructure in England. Our 360 members work with 140,000 local community groups and voluntary organisations which provide services, regenerate neighbourhoods, increase volunteering and tackle discrimination, in partnership with local public bodies'. To find out more, visit the website and you will be able to access voluntary organisations in your area.

Toc H 
This is a Christian backed voluntary society, but being a Christian is not necessary if you want to help. On this site you can find out more information, how TOC H is organised and how you can join.

The Jubilee Sailing Trust
If you would like to take part in a very active and enjoyable pastime together with disabled people then the Jubilee Sailing Trust exists for just this purpose: "To bring together able-bodied and physically disabled people through the medium of tall ship sailing and building"

Responsible Cultural Experiences

Do you want an “experience of a lifetime”?

While working side by side with local people, volunteers will experience the warm culture of the Far East. This program is aimed at all walks of life but what is apparent is that people in the 50 years + bracket have a wealth of experience and skills that the local people could benefit from.

British Society of Gerontology

If you have an interest in research on ageing the British Society of Gerontology aims to promote the understanding of human ageing and later life through research and communication. It seeks to foster the application of this knowledge to the improvement of the quality of life in old age.

The National Trust 
You can volunteer to do a wide range of activities with the National Trust, from gardening to being a room warden. Or you can go on working holidays that help the Trust to maintain their properties.



Whatever it is you would like to do, from administration to clearing ditches and ponds or building dry stone walls there will be an opening for you in the voluntary sector. It might not be immediately available or easy to find but a little persistence and patience will get you that opportunity sooner or later. Many people get immense satisfaction from volunteering and the feeling that they are putting something back into the community. Interestingly, BUPA says that volunteering helps people stay healthy - so that's an added benefit to volunteering. For more help, don't forget our Guide to Voluntary Work, which will give you some more detaild information on various aspects of voluntary work.

There are, of course, many voluntary organisations, both local and national, that are not mentioned above. They do excellent work in the community and their work provides a lifeline for many people, but they require volunteers in order to maintain their services. If you are involved with a voluntary organisation and would like to request help from visitors to laterlife.com then email us you website details at enquiries@laterlife.com and we will add it to the section below.

For organisations that have contacted laterlife for our help in trying to encourage volunteers, go to our Guide to Voluntary Work . Also see our section on Jobs in Later Life

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