Developing a fresh sense of purpose, giving back to the community and meeting like-minded people are just some of the many benefits of volunteering in your 50s, 60s and beyond. With such a wide range of opportunities on offer, often the hardest part of getting started can be identifying what it is you want to do!
To give you a few ideas, we’ve come with a handy list of some of the most popular volunteering opportunities out there.
1. Volunteering with children
If you want to help educate and inspire future generations, then you might be interested in volunteering with children. Sadly, there are many babies and children across the world whose health, education and/or general well-being is suffering. But, by sparing just a few hours a week, you could help to transform some of their lives.
2. Volunteering to help the elderly
With ever increasing life expectancy, we have a society that is rapidly ageing. The number of people in the UK over the age of 80 is expected to increase by over 50% in the next decade. An increase in elderly people, means an increase in volunteering opportunities! There are plenty of older people across the country who could benefit from a few hours of your time – for example, by offering to help around the house, provide lifts to and from places, or just have a regular chat over a cup of tea.
3. Volunteering with animals
Are you a lover of all creatures great and small? Or perhaps you’re just mad about dogs or cats? Volunteering with animals can be a hugely rewarding way to make your free time count. By choosing to volunteer with animals, you can enjoy the perks of spending time with them – such as cuddles and regular walking – without having to worry about committing long-term. Visit our animal volunteering page below to find out how you can help give animals the life that they deserve.
4. Volunteering outdoors
Unfortunately, only 13% of the UK is covered with trees, compared with 37% of the average European country. This is an important statistic because trees are one of the best ways to fight a changing climate. It’s becoming increasingly important that we take steps to look after the green space we have left, as well as facilitating the growth of new plant life if we are to create a stable environment for future generations.
If this sounds like a mission that you’d like to get involved with, then conservation volunteering may be a great option for you. Not only will you get to spend time outdoors interacting with nature, but you’ll get the satisfaction of knowing that you are helping to make the most of our planet.
5. Volunteering abroad
Fancy volunteering somewhere other than the UK? Lots of charities and organisations host volunteer trips abroad for older adults – from sports coaching in Kenya to conservation work in South Africa. If you’re looking to contribute to a good cause whilst exploring the world, then volunteering abroad could offer you the perfect opportunity.
6. Cultural volunteering
Do you have a niche area of interest in history or culture? Volunteering at an art gallery, library, museum or botanical garden can allow you to explore and engage with your passion further. Whether it’s abstract art, Ancient Egypt or the Victorians that you’re keen on, volunteering can be a great opportunity to continue learning.
7. Volunteering at an event
If you’d rather take part in a one-off activity (than to make a regular commitment each week or month), then you could consider signing up to be a help out at local or national event. Not only will you reap the sense of reward that comes from giving something back to your community, you’ll get to have a day out and see some of the event for free!
8. Volunteering as an advocate
Would you like to help disadvantaged or marginalised members of society find their voice? By becoming a volunteer advocate, you could represent the interests of people whose vulnerability prevents them from speaking up for themselves. You’ll usually do this by helping them to understand their rights, directing them to the correct authorities and offering them emotional support.
9. Charity shop volunteering
Charity shops couldn’t get by without donations and support from volunteers. The charity shop stock room is a fascinating place, full of unwanted treasure waiting to be rehomed – and there’s plenty of sorting, cleaning and pricing that needs to take place before it can all hit the shelves.
If you’d like to get involved and help raise large amounts of money for a good cause, then charity shop volunteering could be for you.
10. Office support volunteering
Charities recruit office support volunteers to help with the smooth running of the organisation. They are often described as the “glue” that holds a charity together. The majority of charities cannot afford to employ the staff in office roles, so they rely on the volunteers who generously give their spare time – and they couldn’t do without them!
11. Volunteer as a Driver
Want to buckle up and make help make someone’s life just that little bit easier? There are plenty of people who – due to age or disability – cannot get around by themselves, which restricts their freedom and independence. This means that they may not be able to do the “normal” things that many of us take for granted like go shopping or attend hospital appointments or social events. When this happens, people tend to become increasingly isolated and end up going without the things they need. By giving just a couple of hours of your time each week to help someone get where they need to go, you could improve their quality of life.
Important things to note…
Although you don’t get paid as a volunteer, the rewards are still huge. People who volunteer in their 50s, 60s and beyond often report gaining a huge sense of achievement, building confidence and making new friends. There’s also no need to worry about commuting costs as most charities and organisations will cover all or part of your voluntary expenses – which may even include lunch!
The commitment level of each voluntary role also varies, so it will be up to you to choose something that fits around your life. You might want to volunteer for a few hours a month in your local area or you may jump at the chance to visit another country for a few weeks to help out with building or conservation projects.
Volunteering has the potential to add plenty of value to your life, whilst making a real difference to the lives of others – so why not give it a go?