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Planning Retirement Online

Reports on Volunteering

The results of BUPA's survey indicates a link between good health, physical exercise and the social contact that comes with volunteering.



  • 22 million adults in the UK do volunteer work
  • Surprisingly, a government study revealed that the volunteering rate among people aged 50-65 is low, and people in younger age groups are more likely to do voluntary work
  • 6 out 10 volunteers say that volunteering gives them the opportunity to learn new skills
  • Volunteering has been rated by many as the second greatest source of personal enjoyment after dancing
  • Half of all volunteers get involved because someone has asked them to
  • 8 out 10 people think that volunteers offer something that cannot be provided by the State
  • 80% of people reject the idea that volunteers are less efficient than paid workers
  • The economic value of formal volunteering has been estimated at over 40 billion per year


Information from Victim Support London Newsletter






Many older volunteers have as much fun now as they did when they were younger (22%) and the majority (70%) are content with their lives, a BUPA survey of over 450 older volunteers has found.

The results of BUPA's survey also indicate a link between good health, physical exercise and the social contact that comes with volunteering. Seventy per cent of older volunteers rated their health as either good or excellent while 14% said their health had actually improved since they began volunteering. The results indicate an active and healthy group of people, dispelling the myth that getting older inevitably means slowing down.

"Volunteering may make us happier and healthier," says BUPA's Assistant Medical Director, Dr Paula Franklin. "So, if you want to have fun and help yourself to stay healthy over 50 you should get out, keep active and help others."


Keeping active

The BUPA survey suggests that older volunteers are more active and significantly less stressed than the general adult population.   The majority of them exercise regularly and only 22% said they suffered from anxiety, stress, insomnia or depression.

Nearly three quarters (73%) spend upwards of three hours per week on voluntary work and 32% commit more than seven hours per week.

Studies have shown that loneliness can contribute to poor health and illness. Age Concern say that an estimated 29% of men and 59% of women aged over 75 live alone. “The key is to stay connected, stay involved and to live a full life," says BUPA Professor of Health and Organisational Psychology at UMIST, Professor Cary Cooper.

Many of the older volunteers polled chose to begin voluntary work because of the social benefits. Over half said they began volunteering because of the regular social contact and 31% said they wanted to meet new people. When asked about their social life, over three-quarters described their social lives as busy, moderately busy or very busy. A third said their social lives had improved since they began doing voluntary work.


If you want to volunteer through Community Service Volunteers or receive information on volunteering events in your area contact 0845 601 3417.


the personal health service
BUPA House, 15-19 Bloomsbury Way, London, WC1A 2BA



ALSO see our sections on Voluntary Work in later life and Jobs in later life



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