Volunteering can be a rewarding and satisfying activity in your later life. With a fantastic array of opportunities available in all sorts of areas, people report that volunteering is one of the most enjoyable things they can do.
Every year in Australia, volunteering contributes billions of dollars to the economy. In a societal sense, volunteering helps to strengthen communities, foster connectedness and improve participation.
Taking the opportunity to 'give back', volunteers appreciate meaningful ways to be involved in their community, connect with people, combat isolation or loneliness and make a worthwhile contribution.
Sue Noble, Volunteering Victoria's Chief Executive Officer, says that older people make particularly good volunteers.
We work with our members and networks to help connect thousands of volunteers from all walks of life with organisations, causes and individuals in need each year across Victoria.
And I have to say that one of the most experienced, skilled, compassionate and reliable groups of volunteers are Victorian seniors and retirees, she says.
Nearly 20 per cent of older Victorians volunteer on a regular basis. It is a great way to meet new people and gain new friends, and it provides a purpose and a reason to get out and about.
You can do something you are interested in, work flexibly and really make a difference to the lives of others.
Sue Noble says the community should really value their older volunteers.
They have the experience and the patience which is often required, they are genuine about making a contribution and really understand and are connected to their community. And for the volunteers themselves, volunteering results in a "helper's high", a powerful physical and emotional feeling experienced when you help others.
Senior volunteers can often provide the emotional warmth and insight that provides service users with real value. And the volunteers themselves love it.
It really is a win-win-win – for the volunteer, the person, organisation or cause they are helping, and for the Victorian community, she says.
There are estimated to be more than 120,000 not-for-profit community organisations operating in Victoria. The majority are informal and rely entirely on volunteers. They include all sorts of organisations and work – in the arts and heritage, business and professional, welfare and community, education and training, animal welfare, emergency services, health and the environment, children and youth, and across religions.