5 reasons why you are never too old to volunteer!

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5 reasons why you are never too old to volunteer!

volunteering for over 50's

Are you thinking of volunteering, but worried that age may be constraint? Here are 5 reasons why we think you are never too old to volunteer:

#1 You are only as old as you feel (and getting out and seeing the world will certainly put a spring in your step!)

#2 With age comes wisdom – your life skills will be an asset to any volunteer project


#3 If you are retired then you are not tied down by work commitments – why not spend some of that free time contributing to a worthy cause?

#4 You know yourself – as a mature confident individual you are in a great position to be a positive role model for any children you may be working with (as well as younger volunteers!)


#5 Why should the youngsters have all the fun!!!

Ilona Jamieson UK

Still not convinced?  Why not hear what past volunteer Ilona has to say….

I was 66 years old when I first volunteered overseas, last year, and the experience offered through EDGE of AFRICA in Knysna, South Africa far exceeded my expectations.

As a retiree, and to satisfy my sense of new-found freedom, I had been travelling far and wide for some years, purely for my own pleasure. For years, I had worked as a senior hospital nursing manager and then lecturer, had been a school teacher (8-13 age group) and a Mum of two. I was no longer a registered nurse as the qualification had long lapsed but, one day, it came to me that I still had skills and experience to offer to others …. and why not combine this with travel. Knowing nothing about how to proceed, I googled “Volunteering overseas …… Teaching and health promotion, terminal care”.

I was contacted by a UK company twinned with charities in South Africa. The process couldn’t have been easier ….. I was asked for a Motivational letter ( setting out why I wanted to volunteer and what life experience and skills I could offer) which, luckily for me, was picked up by EDGE of AFRICA.


I was made to feel welcome and needed, offered board and lodging at a reasonable cost and a programme including ….. work with the local hospice assisting with daycare and tending those in the townships that were terminally ill …… A role in supporting and educating adult AIDS and Tuberculosis victims …… an opportunity to take part in an HIV/AIDS teaching workshop with 10-13 year old children ( who were so receptive and interested) …… Helping the Rastafarian community clear a path through a burgeoning Eco-park …… slapping wood preserver on the exterior of a newly-built primary school! The opportunities were endless …. and the support and feedback each day with the EoA staff was reassuring and helpful.

The volunteer house is in a stunning location up in the hills overlooking the breath-taking Knysna Lagoon. My fellow volunteers were, on the whole, much younger people, wanting to broaden their experience for work back home ….. I felt very much a part of the group and was able to be a Mum figure when needed …. I didn’t venture out as much as them in the evenings (though they did persuade me to go to a local disco/bar once!) but preferred to curl up with the cat and enjoy Me-Time with a book and an early night.

EDGE of AFRICA facilitated some exciting activities at weekends, including visits to wild-life parks, beaches and shark-diving ….. Yes, I did! We also had much needed down time to ourselves. There are some delicious coffee houses and restaurants in Knysna ….. and sushi is half-price twice a week!!


I stayed for six weeks and it was a wrench to leave. I had established relationships, particularly with the families of those who were dying. To be asked to be with them, in their homes, at such a time was a privilege ….. they made me feel welcome and needed in a way I could not have anticipated.

I went out as a volunteer believing I had experience and skills to offer to others ….. the humbling thing is that I received far more than I could give …. of warmth, appreciation, interest, humour, friendship and love. One woman, near to death, with whom I had visited on many occasions, held my hand and said to me ” from the bottom of my heart, I love you” ……a truly genuine gift from her heart ….. not something I hear much nowadays ….. and incredibly precious.

If you are considering volunteering ….. DO IT! Whatever your life experience and skills, you have something to offer and a lot to receive. You are never too old!!


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