After a lifetime of working for money, why on earth would we want to go and work for nothing?
I was a volunteer with the National Trust in the UK for nearly four years. I was a costumed guide, showing people around a 17th century house, making the stories come to life, and I loved it.
For me, it all came to an end when my husband left, and I had to find myself a proper job. It’s something I would go back to in a heartbeat if I could.
But if you have extra time on your hands, don’t need to work for cash, or simply like helping others, then volunteering might be the thing to bring a spring to your step. And it comes with various benefits.
For one, volunteering allows us to ‘give something back’ when we’ve come to the end of a successful working life.
For some, volunteering is a reason to get out of bed in the morning – it can give structure to the day or the week. Getting up and getting out, whatever the weather, because we know we’ll be missed if we don’t turn up. There is nothing wrong with wanting to feel useful and appreciated.
It might be the chance to pursue a hobby that we didn’t have time for before we retired. Or the chance to do something new.
When you volunteer, you get to engage your skills so they don’t get rusty. Whatever your skillset, there will be an organisation that needs volunteers to do just that!
It’s a perfect way to meet like-minded people. Volunteering isn’t just about the work – it can also be a very sociable thing, with people getting together for meals or drinks or outings outside of the actual work.
It gets us out of the house. There is nothing wrong with admitting to ourselves that we are bored, or lonely – and volunteering will cure both.
If you have a skill, pass it on! Volunteering can give you the opportunity to share your skill with others and teach them how to do it too.
It can enable us to help people less fortunate. For people on a limited income, giving time to a charity that is close to our heart can be easier than giving money.
Volunteering keeps our brains active. Use it or lose it! In my case, I had to actively learn a fairly long list of names and dates and the stories that went with them. The brain needs exercise just as much as the body does.
If, like me, you need to get a job in a hurry because your husband has left you, or some other event happened – at least you’ll have something interesting on your CV.
We are all generally living longer, and our quality of life is increasing too. After a lifetime of working for a living, often in jobs we didn’t particularly enjoy, we want to get out there and do something we actually like, for as long as we possibly can.
You know the saying, “You don’t stop because you get old, you get old because you stop.”
So, let’s not stop. Let’s keep going, giving our time for the benefit of a cause we believe in. Helping others and helping ourselves at the same time.
One volunteer is worth 10 pressed men. And women.
Where do you volunteer? What do you do? And why? What got you started? Please share your volunteering experience and the benefits it has brought to your life.