Volunteering after retirement
There is a wealth of evidence that confirms the many benefits of volunteering once people have stopped working full-time. In fact, Action for Happiness list ten key ingredients for a happy and fulfilling life: giving, relating, exercising, awareness, trying out, direction, resilience, emotions, acceptance and meaning. Arguably, volunteering ticks all of these boxes!
In praise and support of volunteering , another Swindells client, Elaine Cox, has written a terrific blog outlining a typical day as a volunteer and confirmation of many of the above benefits. It’s an insightful and interesting read.
Over to you, Elaine…
I’m not retiring from life – just a job!
People see retirement in many different ways. On one hand there is the glass half empty view – a long holiday and then you die, or the more positive glass at least half full. This sees retirement as an amazing time of connection, engagement and wider possibilities. Holidays are great, I love exploring new places, but you do need a rest from them sometimes!
During our lifetime we accrue many skills which don’t fade and disappear, just because we aren’t in paid employment. Our skills and knowledge can be of use to other people and make a positive difference to their lives. How? Simply by volunteering!
So many organisations depend upon volunteers to help them deliver a vital service to people who perhaps don’t have family, friends or a Duncan to help them out. Citizens Advice is one such organisation. It is not an arm of the government, despite so many government documents ending ‘if you need more advice go to your local CAB’, it is a charity. There are so many ways to get involved, fundraising, becoming a Trustee, training as an adviser, helping with administration – the list is a long one.
I have been a CAB adviser since I retired, training and then working one day a week.
So, it’s Tuesday morning – the day starts with a difference – I have to get up with an alarm! Get into CAB for 9am and look at the diary to see what appointments I have today.
First one – Help to fill in an Attendance Allowance Form – check the notes we have, meet the client and gently take them through all the things they can no longer do for themselves and the amount of help they need even with everyday things like cooking a meal, taking meds, using the loo. Useful today as a friend has come with them and helps to paint the picture. These forms are long and can be very daunting. The session takes nearly 2 hours. Write up the notes – imperative in case we have to appeal any decision. Grab lunch.
Next appointment – says Debt and other issues- meet the client – try to establish what help they need today- what are they most worried about- turns out it is breakdown of the marriage, so look up appropriate bits on our system and take client through options and what they can do next. We can’t decide for them, just help them to see the possibilities more clearly. Make a further appointment to deal with other issues. Client leaves – a smile on their face, relieved to have unburdened and be on their way to starting to sort their problems.
Coffee – at last – write up the notes, chat with the team and go home – time is 4:30 – a busy day but a good one.
It is never boring! It can be rewarding or frustrating, but if after an appointment you see someone’s shoulders lift and the light come back in their eyes because you have helped them to start dealing with a problem that has weighed heavily upon them, then it is worthwhile, for them and for you. It’s fun too being part of a team again, a cog in a bigger wheel.
It’s not entirely selfless either as volunteers have been shown to have lower levels of disability and higher levels of well-being. According to some American research, one hopes not fake news, volunteering can have a greater impact on this than income, education or marriage. Maybe because it widens your social circle, especially after retirement and makes you more linked into and part of your local community.
If CAB isn’t for you there are so many local organisations where you could help. Local hospitals need volunteers too as do their Leagues of Friends. Organisations such as ‘Independent Age’ help to support older people, in particular help those who are lonely.
University of the Third Age (U3A) runs groups in a vast range of fields. Each group is set up by a member who has an interest or expertise in a specific area and invites others to join the group. Walking, bridge, croquet, local history, wine appreciation- just about you name it and there will be a group!
Whilst Duncan Orr and Swindells helps us to look after our financial resources we can make certain we look after our mental and emotional ones.
So, see retirement really can be so much more than a long holiday and then you die!
For more information about how you can become involved with CAB, click on the logo above or image below.