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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 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.


Volunteers needed!

At Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice, we care for children and young adults with life-shortening and life-threatening conditions from South Yorkshire, North Nottinghamshire, North Derbyshire and part of North Lincolnshire. We are currently supporting around 250 families, both in our hospice and in family homes. In just one year, Bluebell Wood provides more than 50,000 of hours of care. We are one of only 53 children’s hospices nationally.

We support the whole family through the toughest of times, including end of life care and treatment, music therapy, counselling, sibling support groups and home visits. 

It costs more than £4m to keep our doors open for families. Bluebell Wood receives around 10% of its funding from government sources. The rest is raised through donations, sponsorships, support groups, events and charity shops.

We currently need volunteers for our ten charity shops in Sheffield, Chapeltown (Sheffield), Bakewell, Chesterfield, Dinnington (Rotherham), Hellaby (Rotherham) Rotherham, Wombwell (Barnsley) and Worksop. We are also looking for volunteers to help at events or to form new support groups. Any other volunteer opportunities are posted on our website as they arise.

If you're interested in learning more, please visit or contact Terry Lowell (Volunteer Co-ordinator) on 01909 508116 or email

Volunteers needed…..

Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity is the leading charity in England providing bespoke emotional and practical support direct to families who have a seriously ill child. There is no other organisation that provides the range of services that we do. Rainbow Trust Family Support Workers support the whole family, from their child’s diagnosis, during treatment and, if needed, through bereavement and beyond.
We are looking for volunteers from Bristol to assist the Rainbow Trust Family Support team and the Jessie May (Children’s hospice at home) team. You will be supporting families located in Bristol at home, in hospital and in the community.
There are a range of volunteer roles available including

  • providng very practical support such as ironing, gardening or shopping for a family either regularly or occasionally as needed
  • offering social support to brothers and sisters of the child who is ill at home or while the family are in hospital

No previous experience is needed just a friendly approach and empathy for families in stressful circumstances. We ask you to commit to volunteering with us for a year. We provide training to make sure you are fully equipped for the kind of volunteering you want to do and ongoing supervision as well as a regular opportunity to meet up with other volunteers and discuss how things are going.  

To find out more about the roles available please email or call 07535250785 to discuss it further. Please note - this role may not be suitable for anyone who has suffered a personal bereavement within the last two years.

Selection Process:

Enrolment Form, References, Initial telephone Interview, Disclosure and Barring Service Checks (DBS), Training and Final face to face Interview.

Donate your professional skills

REACHDo 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.

Revitalise 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

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.netto find out about volunteering in Wales. Likewise, click on opportunities in Scotland.

If you want to volunteer for overseas work, go to 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 gap36.

This organisation provides volunteering opportunities abroad for grown ups, whether on a career break or if you're retired.

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 then email us you website details at 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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