“I expect to pass through this world but once,
Any good thing, therefore, that I can do,
Or any kindness that I can show to any fellow – creature
Let me do it now;
Let me not defer or neglect it,
For I shall not pass this way again.”
As retirement approaches there will be people who seek to do something different with their lives. A chance to do a job both interesting and rewarding, but ideally in total contrast to work they were obliged to do in order to fulfil their obligations. For some people charity work offers a purpose to life and is a fulfilling way to contribute to their social world. They derive satisfaction from doing something for the benefit of others instead of for financial benefit for themselves, and they have fun doing it. There are many active people who are fortunate enough to receive a retirement pension, but who still have the ability and desire to continue working. They feel they have many good years ahead of them and want to give something back to society.
200.000 charities now exist in the Great Britain and many depend on voluntary staff. The larger charitable organisations employ directors, senior managers and those with leadership skills as well as using volunteers. Remuneration for the senior posts doesn’t usually compare well with other commercial concerns, but for some people money isn’t the only motivation. But of course all charities depend enormously on unpaid helpers and the generous time and effort given by their volunteer workers. If you have skills or a training, which could be put to good use, why not consider calling one of the large national charities or perhaps a smaller local charity near your home, and volunteering your services? Your skills or experience could well be of assistance in either a permanent or temporary capacity. Skills such as nursing, teaching, selling, driving, computing, cooking, decorating, sewing or shop managing are but a few skills, which are constantly in demand.
Since my own brush with cancer in 1988 I have worked voluntarily with many national charities, concentrating my efforts on those researching cancer causes and treatments, or those caring for cancer patients and their families. My other group of interest and effort are charities who are concerned with the health and needs of older people. Through my voluntary work I feel I can put something back into life, which has been good to me. It gives me a sense of pride and usefulness. All charities depend on the good will and generosity of the public. You may be pleasantly surprised to discover that by keeping yourself busy and giving a little of yourself for the good of others, you receive an unexpected bonus in return – that of new interests and friendship.
Voluntary Service Overseas (VOS) has a record number of people over 50 years of age taking up voluntary posts in VOS work overseas in developing countries. The over 50’s represent 16% of the 2000 VOS volunteers working abroad, and the figures are rising. A representative said that the over 50’s “want to give something back to society”. These people are more concerned with helping the needy than making money. It’s interesting to note that as a result of divorce, death of a spouse, or early retirement many more people in this age group find themselves alone and with time on their hands. They feel fit are active and have good brains, and feel they still have plenty more to offer in life. They are not prepared to retire and give up; they are men and women with valuable experience.
Some posts require teachers, but VSO needs to recruit skilled volunteers, and craftsmen such as carpenters, builders, mechanics and metal workers all of whom are in great demand. Many older people have acquired patience along with age and fit in well in the developing countries whose pace is less frantic than the UK. Mature people thrill at the opportunity to travel and rise to the challenge of the unexpected. Those of sound health view this opportunity as a bonus time in which to do something completely different and at same time do something to benefit mankind. A recent report found that a VSO volunteer could be as old as 70, could represent one of 50 professions and could be posted to one of 74 countries. Many VSO volunteers let their houses in the UK while they are temporarily away. They feel excited at the prospect of adventure and of taking risks in contrast to many friends of their own age, who have retired in front of the fire with their slippers.