After they leave their full-time job and ‘retire’, many people choose to work as part of their active retirement. Retirement, in the 21st Century is not an end, it’s a change and the start of a new phase of life in which many people want to do some sort of work.
In 2006 Norwich Union did a survey that suggested that 29% of people over 50 and 44% of people aged between 65 and 74 go back to work, be it full time, part-time or voluntary. Of these people only 14% return to work because they need the money and 27% of them go into voluntary work. These numbers are rising and an Office of National Statistics survey in Jan 2008 reported that there are now record numbers of pensioners working, many of them in the voluntary sector.
Why do we choose to work voluntarily? There are a number of reasons and they are mainly concerned with those positive things that we have gained from work over the years (friendship, teamwork, status, a sense of belonging, achievement and so on) and the desire to ‘give something back’.
So, if we wish to do some voluntary work, there are some things to consider. First, we should think about what it is that work has given us during our life, both positive and negative. We’ve mentioned some of the positive things above but there may well be others that are relevant. In terms of negatives, we may think of office politics, bureaucracy, routine, constant change etc.
Then, before we plunge into voluntary work, we should think about which sort of roles and which sort of organisation are likely to give us the positives and eliminate the negatives.
We should also think about what kind of lifestyle we want in retirement. If we want to be able to go off on holiday at the drop of a hat, or want complete flexibility for some other reason, we shouldn’t accept a position that requires us to be available at set times of the day, week or month.
Most people who do voluntary work are conscientious and caring and we don’t want to let people down. If we suddenly decide that we want to go off somewhere, we find ourselves in a dilemma, wondering how to solve the problem, and give ourselves as much stress as we had at work!
If, on the other hand, we like structure and routine then a position that requires us to have a regular pattern to life will suit us well. Similarly, we should think about what it is that we want from retirement and, in particular, from voluntary work and choose something that will give us it. It might be excitement, the chance to work alone, the chance to work with others, the opportunity to be creative, the ability to make decisions or whatever.
We should also appreciate that, depending on the type of role we want, we may have to have a criminal records check and/or a medical check. It’s quite reasonable for these checks to be required and, for the vast majority of people, they represent no problem and very little inconvenience. They are, therefore, nothing to worry about and should not put us off volunteering for the role that we want.
Once you have thought about all the issues, then you can go and look for a role in the voluntary sector. This Guide will help with that process, so before you do anything else, read the other pages and then start your search. There will be a job out there that will match your wishes and requirements. However, you might need some patience and persistence in order to find the perfect role. The Guide will hopefully make the search a bit easier.