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Around six million people aged between 55 and 74 are engaged in voluntary work and offer invaluable help with new research, equating to 1.4 billion hours help each year.
According to the Royal Voluntary Service, more than a quarter of over 65s plan to reduce the amount of time they are working over the coming year, despite delayed retirement. Of these, 53 per cent said they will start volunteering or increase the time they currently spend volunteering, with the additional hours they are willing to commit calculated at 13.8 hours per month.
Colin Bruce, a 66-year-old Royal Voluntary Service volunteer driver and former control officer for the Ambulance Service, said: “When I retired, I could have lounged around and put my feet up but I wanted to stay active and have a sense of purpose. I was keen for my life to have meaning and to use the skills that I had been practising throughout my 30-year career with the Ambulance Service to use.
“I drive older people in Leicester wherever they need to go, whether that’s to a hospital appointment, or a nursing home to see relatives – they are in my care from the moment I pick them up to the moment I drop them off and I take great pleasure in helping them out.
“I’d recommend volunteering to anyone with spare time on their hands since retiring, there really is no end of ways to support vulnerable older people and it’s great to know you are giving something back to your local community.”
Research conducted by the Royal Voluntary Service found that those aged 65 and over who are interested in volunteering when they retire said it appealed for a number of reasons. Many said they are keen to stay active (86 per cent), give something back (43 per cent) or meet new people (29 per cent).
Those who volunteer are also more likely to be happier and healthier than their counterparts, while remaining active in older age can delay the onset of frailty and other age related health conditions.
Yet, more than a third of over 55s in employment said their plan to work part-time after retirement would prevent them from volunteering as much as they would like.
David McCullough, chief executive of the Royal Voluntary Service, is calling on the Government, businesses and voluntary sector to promote the benefits of volunteering for older people. He said: “We need to do more to motivate older adults to volunteer which will provide the help that is so desperately needed and at the same time, will give them an opportunity to meet new people and to remain active and engaged in their local community.
“Volunteering in retirement should be normalised so it becomes a little like work experience for young people; a must have part of their post work plans. It’s vital to engage older people before they leave a company and to achieve this the voluntary sector needs to work with Government and businesses to convince future retirees to include volunteering when planning the next phase of their life.”
The charity’s 35,000 volunteers help older people living in their own homes remain as active and independent within their community as possible. They provide emotional and practical help with jobs such as shopping, collecting library books, changing a light bulb or fixing a lock and make sure older people are calm and well-informed before they have any medical appointments.
For more information, visit: www.royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk