8.6 million retirees volunteered to some extent in 2020/21
The unpaid services they provide to charities, schools, activity groups like Boy Scouts and Guides and their families make up 2% of the country’s gross domestic product. The findings highlight the critical but often overlooked role the over-65s play in society and the economy, according to the Center for Economic and Business Research (CEBR).
Its report – commissioned by the Retirement Villages Group – found that 8.6million pensioners volunteered in some capacity in 2020/21 – contributing to a £32.7billion economic boost.
There are also a million older people caring for their loved ones, whether grandchildren or parents, representing an economic value of £15.3billion.
Pushpin Singh, Economist at CEBR, said: “Retirees are often portrayed as adding limited value to our economy.
“This picture is biased and overlooks the fact that retirees engage in a range of socially and economically useful activities.
“The activities experienced by the over 65s indeed carry significant weight for them, dispelling conventional beliefs while reinforcing the invaluable role they play in building the communities we see today.”
One million older people act as informal caregivers to loved ones
Psychologist Jo Hemmings said: “When you give up on your job it can feel like a huge sense of loss, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Retirement is an exciting phase of life, but the emotional jolt of leaving work, its routines and circles of friends, can lead to loneliness and lack of fulfillment.
“Getting involved in your local community is the best way to ensure you have the right ingredients for a contented retirement life.”
CEBR calculated the total time spent by retirees volunteering in their local communities multiplied by the average salary according to the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) for a comparable paid role, to calculate the impact economy-wide.
Services included volunteers working in clubs and organizations, those providing unpaid help to individuals or friends and family.
Another way for over-65s to “give back” is to serve as councilors on local councils. More than a third (37%) of all local authority councilors in England are over 65 and contribute £129million in time and services.
Retirees are motivated to volunteer by a sense of purpose once they leave the working world, a study has found.
‘I want to help, it’s something in me’
Judyth Allday, 84, has volunteered her time and expertise since retiring as an occupational therapist 20 years ago.
The mother-of-two continued to work for free when she moved to Cedars Village, part of the Retirement Villages Group, five years ago. She spent time at a nearby hospice, where she was a kitchen assistant, and drove around collecting lottery tickets for patients.
And the energetic octogenarian has also volunteered at the local mansion – where her dollhouse is on display – serving drinks and helping out with the shop.
Ms Allday, from Chorleywood, Hertfordshire, said: ‘I am someone who likes to give, so to speak, rather than receive.
“I volunteer because I want to help, it’s something that’s inside of me.”
Peter, 92, is a force for good with a police role
Peter Humphries’ police officer father inspired his volunteer work.
The 92-year-old, below, knows how hard officers have to work and, in a bid to help, set up a Neighborhood Watch program 20 years ago.
He then took charge when he became a resident of the Castle Village retirement complex in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, seven years ago.
Peter tells new residents about the program and gives them welcome packs from the police.
The former West End hotel manager arranges visits from community policing officers.
Peter also leads an artistic group. He said: ‘Neighborhood watch is extremely important and frees up police time for more serious incidents.’
COMMENT BY CATHERINE JOHNSON
Volunteers do so much more than help the purse strings of the country.
They play a vital role in society – behind every one of those pounds saved is a person helped, a crisis averted, or community service sustained.
Retirees are particularly generous with their time. Without the distraction of work, many commit to supporting several causes a week.
But volunteers also have a lot to gain – for their mental, emotional and physical well-being and the sense of purpose that comes with it.
It can also be a way to stay physically fit.
So I’m a strong believer in having volunteering prescribed by doctors.
●If you want to register, visit www.royalvoluntaryservice.org.
- Catherine Johnson is Chief Executive of the Royal Voluntary Service