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Volunteering Roles for the Retiree Who Wants to Carry On

Retirement changes everything. Many people look forward to spending time learning a hobby, while others want to use the time to see the world or visit family living far away, taking opportunities they may not have had when younger. For others, there is a sense of loss and, despite being glad to have given up the last job they had, they do not want to give up working completely.

Volunteering is a very noble thing to do and a popular post-retirement activity for men and women. The web and the growth of the third sector in recent years has enabled people just like you access to some of the following opportunities. Age UK reports that some 40% of retirees will enter into volunteering. Wishing to make new friends and missing human company are the major motivating factors for doing so.

Charity Shops

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Libraries are a popular choice for retirees looking for voluntary work.

Working in a charity shop is the most common form of voluntary role. Their shops rely on retirees as well as young people looking to get some work experience. They help the social life too; people often make great new friends working in a charity shop and experience the joys of teamwork working towards a common goal. Meeting and working with the public can be very rewarding for some. Also, keeping on your toes, working in small warehouses and restocking shelves can help keep you fit and healthy for those who prefer to remain active.

Libraries and Museums

If you wish to work with the public but retail is not for you, then you may find a more rewarding job working in a library or museum. Museums allow you to learn about collections and, if you have expertise or experience in a related subject, your knowledge will be vital to providing a great visitor experience. Similarly with libraries and local records offices, helping people choose books and learning about local history can be rewarding too. Missing the company of other people is a motivating factor for why most opt to volunteer post-retirement.

As a Befriender

Age UK are one of several charities that engage volunteers to befriend older people who are lonely. As a fellow retiree, you may also be missing having human company. If you volunteer as a befriender, you will not only help somebody who is lonely now that they are older but expand your own social group too. Who knows what rewarding new relationships you might enter into by volunteering for people who may be in a similar position to your own?

Manning a Helpline

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Local events always need stewards to help the day run as smoothly as possible.

A few weeks ago we highlighted Silverline, the helpline for people who are lonely, have depression or are otherwise vulnerable. These people may not necessarily want or need regular contact from a befriender; instead they may have a specific problem with which they need help. If you have a good telephone manner, a comforting voice and a way of putting people at ease – perhaps Silverline or Samaritans may be a good option for you as a volunteering role.

Events Stewarding

Stewards at events such as summer fetes, food & drink festivals, music events, marathons and sports events help a day go smoothly. As a steward, it is your job to ensure that everyone has a good time. We need authority figures and helpers to reunite people who get lost, show people where facilities are and improve the enjoyment of everyone. Event stewards report that it can be hard work but ultimately rewarding and satisfying, especially as you will have contributed to somebody else’s enjoyment.

Food Banks

The economic downturn since 2008 has led to the rise of Food Banks – places where people go to get emergency food supplies because they cannot afford day-to-day bills, are behind on the rent or have had benefit sanctions. As the number of facilities increase, so does the need for volunteers to staff the facilities.

Places to Look For Voluntary Roles

The first place you may wish to look will be the local newspaper or community newsletter. Often, the parish or church newspaper will be a good place to start – they will advertise events not immediately associated with the church as well as their own events. Similarly, you should enquire directly with charity shops for opportunities and they will usually put these in the window.

Thanks to the internet, there are many websites to use in searching for volunteer roles. is one of the country’s best-known volunteering opportunity websites and you can narrow down by sector and by location. This is a better place to look for the more specific roles.