Taking part in volunteer work can be personally rewarding and positively contribute to your community. Approximately 21% of New Zealanders volunteer their time and skills on a regular basis. For older people, especially if you are only working part time or are retired, volunteering can be a great way to engage with your community and find a sense of purpose. Some of the benefits of volunteering include:
: Volunteering can be a good way to make friends or spend time with people you know. According to a recent survey by Volunteering NZ, 21% of New Zealand volunteers offer their time to make new friends, and 15% of people volunteer because a friend asked them to join. For older people who may find it difficult to stay social, volunteering for a few hours a week can be a great opportunity to get out and see people while also giving back to your community.
Give back to your community
: If you no longer work or have more free time to spend volunteering, it could be a good opportunity to give back to your community. The Volunteering NZ survey reported that 81% of New Zealanders who volunteer do so to give back. Older people can choose to volunteer in mentorship roles for younger people, tutor and teach new skills, or work with local organisations to give back to their immediate community in a meaningful way.
: Especially for retired people, volunteering can be a great way to engage yourself mentally. Keeping your brain busy can improve your overall cognitive function and stave off depression or feelings of loneliness. Volunteer work does not have to be mentally challenging, and even engaging in conversation or different volunteer tasks can keep your brain active.
: Keeping active as an older person is important for mobility and general health. Volunteer work can be a good opportunity to get regular physical activity in a meaningful way, especially if it involves active work such as gardening, door-to-door services, or low impact physical activity.
Develop new skills
: Volunteer work does not have to be in a sector you have experience in. Most organisations that accept volunteers will teach you how to do each task required of you, which can be a great way to develop new skills and pursue new interests. Keep yourself busy
: If you are retired, you may struggle to find things to occupy your time. Volunteer work can be flexible and take up as many hours of your week as you would like. It can offer you a regular schedule and give you a reason to get out of the house.
Where to find volunteering opportunities
Volunteer with Age Concern
Age Concern has many local volunteer opportunities to help improve the lives of older people in your community. You can contact your local Age concern to inquire about any local volunteering that can be done as well.
The Accredited Visiting Service
Volunteering to be a visitor means spending time every week with an older person who is lonely or socially isolated. This can make a real difference to an older person’s health and happiness by sharing conversation and activities. Volunteers are matched with an older person based on personality, shared interests, cultural values, and location.
Health Promotion Programmes
Your local Age Concern will train volunteers to assist in running health promotion activities. If you have good communication skills, like learning new skills, and enjoy working with groups, you may enjoy a health promotion volunteering role. You could assist in the set up and running of health promotion presentations and events like expos, workshops, seminars or exercise classes. Contact your local Age Concern for more information.
If you are interested in becoming involved in the governance of Age Concern, you can apply for a leadership role. People that apply for and are voted into leadership roles have the opportunity to guide, shape, and advance their local Age Concern’s services according to what older people in your community need. You can volunteer at a local Council level or for the Age Concern New Zealand Board.
Local volunteer centres
Many cities and towns throughout the country have volunteer centres that you can contact to find local volunteering opportunities. You can find a directory of local volunteering offices on the Volunteering New Zealand website.
Finding volunteer work online
Volunteering opportunities are also advertised online through work and volunteer websites. You may find roles in your community through Seek Volunteer, Do Good Jobs, or Be Collective. Some individuals also advertise local or private volunteer opportunities through Neighbourly.
Websites of interest
- You can find information on the health benefits of volunteering here
- This article covers the benefits of volunteering and how to volunteer as an older person
- You can find research on local volunteering at Volunteering New Zealand
- You can contact your local Age Concern about volunteer opportunities in your area