Millions of pre-retirees aspire to revive Britain’s communities

There’s no doubt that being active in your local community can have a beneficial effect on your well-being, and a new survey shows that people approaching retirement are keen to do their bit and boost their health at the same time.

Britain’s pre-retirees are on a mission to revive their communities, revealing they want to use their valuable skills and life experience to kick-start their own, diverse range of clubs and activities.

New research from national volunteering organisation, Royal Voluntary Service, and Prudential, to launch their ‘Bring People Together’ campaign found nearly half of 50-65 year olds are interested in volunteering to spearhead their own groups and activities as a way to boost support for people in their community.

These pre-retirees are also thinking in an eclectic way when it comes to the activities they want to start. Claiming the clubs currently on offer don’t match their interests, they instead are motivated to introduce a raft of new ones such as walking groups (33 per cent), games clubs (16 per cent), live music and film screening groups and tablet and tech training classes (both 13 per cent). Even adventure sports and dating groups are on the radar for some.

Many 50-65 year olds think it’s in their hands to revive their communities and their particular focus is on supporting older people. More than one fifth (24 per cent) believe the onus is on the general public to step in to help older people, whilst more than half (55 per cent) believe older people are not supported enough in Great Britain and there is a huge gap in the provision of care. Additionally, almost one in four believe by helping older people in the community now, it will create a legacy to support them as they too grow older.

The study found around 30 per cent of 50-65 year olds currently volunteer in some capacity; however, of those that don’t, 53 per cent would consider doing so in the next five years. Key motivators were giving back to the local community (47 per cent), keeping busy and active (40 per cent), helping make life better for those in the community (31 per cent), and having a purpose in retirement (24 per cent).

The ‘Bring People Together’ campaign seeks to encourage and empower more people to volunteer, particularly those aged 50-65. Specifically its aim is to inspire them to start their own activities or clubs for older people with the backing of Royal Voluntary Service.

From social activities and hobby classes to running a lunch club or providing companionship to older people in their homes, Royal Voluntary Service and Prudential want to harness the get-up-and-go of  pre-retirees’ by encouraging them to put their talents and life experience to valuable use by becoming volunteer co-ordinators.

The programme will initially run in six locations around Great Britain:

  • North Wales
  • Manchester
  • London
  • Reading
  • Stirling
  • Glasgow

An additional five locations (Leicester, Kent, Northumberland, Gloucestershire and Norfolk) are being added early summer.

Catherine Johnstone, Chief Executive, Royal Voluntary Service, said: “Volunteering opportunities have in recent years become increasingly structured with volunteers being asked to support the activity after it has been created or in set roles.

“But as the research shows, we are seeing the emergence of volunteers who want to be more creative and lead the development of local activities. They want to give back to their community, but also want greater autonomy over how that support is exercised.

“Many of our volunteers are already leading the way by taking on the running of activities or groups, or by setting one up from scratch, and they are making a huge difference to the lives of thousands of older people each month.

“Of course, starting a group may seem like a daunting prospect but with the backing and support of Royal Voluntary Service, we hope to make it as easy as possible and help people turn their ideas into reality. From trampoline classes to book groups, we are open to suggestions of all kinds.”

Royal Voluntary Service is one of Britain’s largest volunteering charities with over 25,000 volunteers supporting thousands of older people each month in hospitals and the community. The focus is on building confidence, improving well-being and keeping loneliness at bay through an array of social activities and more structured support. Working across hundreds of hospitals in the community, the charity is one of the largest retailers in the NHS, with its network of cafés, shops and trolley services providing much valued services in hospitals.