Voluntary Work - Volunteering Overseas
Many people now take a 'gap year' before they settle down to
retirement - it's not just the young who do it!
One of the
ways in which many of us spend this gap year is to do voluntary
work overseas, in which there is a large and ever-expanding
range of opportunities. In fact, with some organisations there
is the chance to spend up to two years on a project, whilst we
can also do as little as five weeks or so.
So there is a wide range of opportunities to do all kinds of
projects and, basically, for as long as we wish to do them.
They provide us with the chance to do something different and to
have an adventure before we settle down to retirement. It is, of
course, also an opportunity to make a difference to people's
Most of us probably remember VSO, Voluntary Service Overseas,
from when we were young. VSO is still going strong and their
upper age limit for volunteering is 70. You can volunteer for
periods of a few weeks up to two years, so have a look at
and see which vacancies are available.
In our youth, they were one of the very few organisations
through which we could volunteer abroad. Now there are many more
and some of them are listed below:
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.
Work and Volunteer provides a wide range of volunteer
programmes all around the world. A gap year experience
abroad will help you discover new cultures and gain new
experience and skills. Projects are anywhere from three
weeks to six months.
- The Global Volunteer Network (GVN) offers volunteer service opportunities in community projects. Volunteers support the work of local communiuty organisations in developing countries throughout the world. There are currently projects in 21 countries. GVN believes that local communities are in the best position to determine their own needs and the volunteers help them to achieve their goals. Some projects have an age limit of 65 but GVN has placed people well into their 70s. Take a look at the website for a list of their programmes and more details.
- www.inspirevolunteer.co.uk This organisation organises
projects for between one and six months in Africa, Asia and
South America. They are community-based, which means that
you live and work alongside local people.
- www.realgap.co.uk You can volunteer in many countries
through the world with realgap in community, conservation or
wildlife projects. Some of them are very exciting so if
you're looking for something different, have a look.
- Global Vision
is another organisation with exciting projects in many
different countries ranging from a few weeks to much longer
opportunities. There are opportunities for such diverse
things as marine conservation to teaching English.
Openmind Projects offer opportunities for all ages to do
projects in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Nepal on a wide range of different projects including wildlife, teaching, conservation and many others.
- The US National Parks Service are open to volunteers from all over the world – you pay for your own flights and for food but get accommodation. Become a US park Ranger! http://www.nps.gov/getinvolved/volunteer.htm
- http://www.helpx.net/ - exchange a working holiday all over the world (usually 4 hours per day) for accommodation and board on farms etc. Some listings give extras like horse riding lessons in exchange for additional work. Breaks can last from 1 week to months. Many suit individuals and others couples or even groups of 4+
If you're unsure about the credentials of some organisations
and you want to be sure that you are volunteering for a
reputable organisation, take a look at
www.ethicalvolunteering.org. This site will tell you what to
look for when you are assessing a voluntary organisation that is
offering opportunities overseas.
More and more of us are now participating in opportunities to
do voluntary work overseas. It can be challenging but it can
also be a lot of fun and an ideal way to see parts of the world
that we may not otherwise get the chance to see. Have a look at
some of the links above and see if there is something that tempt
Go to the links in the box to get further information on
voluntary work in retirement.
This Guide is written by Retirement
Specialist Dave Sinclair supported by members of the LaterLife team.
Pre-retirement Courses section here on laterlife or our
dedicated Retirement Courses site