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Planning Retirement Online

What you can do

Whatever kind of work we think will suit us in retirement, there will almost certainly be an opening for us somewhere in the voluntary sector.

Having thought about the type of voluntary work that we want and the type of lifestyle that we want in retirement (click on the link to Guide to Voluntary Work for more information on this) we can then decide what sort of position to look for. For example, we might want:

  • a sedentary job that requires you to sit behind a computer for most of the time
  • to do an administrative job such as book-keeping
  • to serve in a local charity shop
  • to drive people to the shops, the doctor or the hospital under the Good Neighbours Scheme
  • to provide advice and practical help based on our professional skills
  • to fill an executive role
  • deliver things to people, which will entail driving
  • to help in the canteen at your local hospital
  • to build dry stone walls or oak barns
  • to clear ponds and ditches in your area
  • to thin woodland
  • to restore old buildings
  • to help with a steam railway

Whatever it is that we think we would like to do, there will be a vacancy somewhere in the voluntary sector. It may not be immediately available, but our ideal position is there somewhere and, given a bit of patience and persistence, we will get it in the end.

It may be that we want to give something back to our local community or to a club to which we have belonged over the years. So there is the option of becoming a parish councillor, a school governor or a lay member of the local NHS Trust, for example.

We could become the chair of your local tennis club or secretary of the bowls club. Having a position on the committee of a club of some sort is an excellent way of giving something back, staying involved, keeping the brain active and maintaining social contact. All of these things are very important in retirement.

Working in the Voluntary Sector: How to Find Rewarding and Fulfilling Work in Charities and Voluntary OrganisationsSome positions need training and we need to have a degree of dedication to fill these roles. For example, the Samaritans is an excellent way of helping people but the work can be draining and the shift work not to everyone's taste. However, what a fantastic thing to do in retirement and we'll have the satisfaction of knowing we're changing people's lives!

Similarly, the Citizens Advice is an excellent and very worthwhile organisation to work for and, depending on the role we want, we will need some training for it.

Voluntary Work Links

Guide to Voluntary Work

Where to Look For It

Volunteering Overseas

Volunteers Required


Maybe an easier way to help people is through one of the organisations that help people in a somewhat less dramatic way. The Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) is a good example. We can volunteer for them for as little as four or five hours a week in a variety of roles.

There are some organisations for whom we can do voluntary work that we wouldn't necessarily think of. For example, there is a range of voluntary roles in the National Trust. We could, for example, be a guide, showing people round one of their properties, or we could help with the maintenance of the grounds. One way of thinking about voluntary work is to consider what we would like to do and then list all the organisations whom we think might be able to provide that type of voluntary work.

Many people do voluntary work through their church. The type of roles that are available will, to a certain extent, depend on the type of location of the church - country or inner city - and the particular needs of the parishioners. However, there are some roles that are constant throughout churches and these are concerned with, amongst other things, the maintenance and appearance of the church.

Another thing that you can do is to take a working holiday that enables you to do some voluntary work at the same time as enjoying a holiday. You can learn to herd sheep and build dry stone walls as well as helping with all sorts of other projects. The National Trust runs many working holidays, including helping with beach clearances, building scarecrows for the allotments, and building tepees for children who come to visit.

At the same time as helping in many conservation projects you may well be able to take advantage of, for example, free sailing lessons and caving tours during some of these breaks. You can do farming, construction and even work on an archaeological dig; there is a huge variety of working holidays available. For example, the Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms has a list of organic farms and small holdings which offer free food and accommodation in exchange for practical help on their land.


For more information on where to look for voluntary work, click on the link in the box to Where to Look for It. Be sure to read the rest of the Guide, too, to get as much information on voluntary work.

This Guide is written by Retirement Specialist Dave Sinclair supported by members of the LaterLife team. As well as writing on retirement matters Dave is Training Director at LaterLife and responsible for the content and continuous improvement of LaterLife's Retirement Courses.
Back to Guide to Voluntary Work

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