Volunteering with VSO provides a wealth of personal and professional rewards, as well as the chance to make a real difference in the lives of those less fortunate. Yet so many older people see international volunteering as “a young person’s game”, suitable only for college students and those seeking adventure earlier on in their careers.
In actual fact, the majority of volunteers who pass through VSO’s doors tend to be much older, either in the later stages of their career or retired. The local partner organisations we work with look very favourably on these volunteers because of the incredible skills they’ve built up over their careers and the powerful impact they can have on programmes.
So the opportunities are there but why should you pursue them?
You have a lot to give
Volunteering allows you to give something back and make the most of the expertise you have developed over the course of your career. Similar opportunities can be hard to come by in retirement. VSO placements involve mentoring local colleagues, whether that’s in a teacher training facility, hospital or business, which can be extremely rewarding. Long-term placements also mean you get to see the powerful impact this can have, as services are improved and extended to those most in need.
You can take on new challenges
Volunteering is very much a two-way street and you get out of it just as much, if not more, than you put in. As you embrace a new culture and workplace, you take on a broader range of challenges than you would at home and learn to do more with less. What works in one context won’t necessarily be best for the society you’re living in and you’ll need to adapt and collaborate to find what will be. If the thought of lying idle during retirement scares you then this offers a fantastic opportunity to continue to learn and grow personally.
You’re in safe hands
It doesn’t matter if you’ve never volunteered in Africa or Asia before. VSO provides all volunteers with a comprehensive support package and in-depth training to broaden your understanding of development issues and equip you with the soft skills required to thrive in the local community. Costs, including flights, accommodation and medical insurance, is provided and a monthly volunteer allowance is offered. We also have a global medical team who can advise and support you with any health or personal concerns you may have as an older volunteer.
The time is now
The final reason for volunteering with VSO in your later years – if not now, when? If you’re retired, you are likely in the best position to do so because your time isn’t consumed with the same work commitments, and likely family and financial obligations, as before. This offers more scope to embrace the life-changing experiences and unforgettable memories that volunteering with VSO can bring.
Ready to start your volunteer journey?
Mojo’s education ended abruptly when she was just eight years old. She had few prospects other than marriage at a very young age. But as Susan Martinez explains, one kind gesture has helped turn Mojo’s life around, with a ripple effect in the community.
There's been a spontaneous outpouring of goodwill as communities all over the world have come together to fight COVID-19. Our photo gallery shows how volunteers are tackling the pandemic, thanks to the support of UK Aid.
Girls are at increased risk of child marriage, violence and stigma while schools remain closed. From Kenya, to Mozambique, to Nepal, find out what VSO is doing to support.