Volunteering in Retirement – the story from Pippa and Wilf

By volunteer blogger Amy Cooke

Data from the Royal Volunteering Service shows that over 25% of post-state pension age people reported that they were involved in voluntary work. [1]  I spoke to Pippa and Wilf, two volunteers at Action 21, to find out the benefits that volunteering can provide for those who are retired.
Profile PippaPippa

Pippa volunteers in Action 21’s Re-Useful Centre, where she helps to sort the huge collection of books donated to the charity.  Pippa enjoys the autonomy of the role: “I just lose myself in making the book area as interesting and as available as possible”.


As a member of the Green Party, Pippa is a strong believer in recycling and protecting the environment, and enjoys the feeling that she is playing her part to encourage re-using and the reduction of landfill waste. For Pippa, volunteering is also great way of socialising, and she enjoys working in the warehouse: ‘I love the people up there, we have lots of jokes, and it’s a lovely way of starting the week’.


Pippa not only volunteers for Action 21, but for a multitude of organisations across the local area, including the Coventry Friends of Palestine and a local night shelter for asylum seekers and migrants. Here, Pippa particularly enjoys meeting new people from different countries and has even started trying to learn a bit of Arabic.


When I met Pippa, it quickly became apparent that volunteering and he personal values of ‘giving something back’ were extremely important to her.


Wilf Reader blog When Wilf retired four years ago he was worried about how he would spend his days. Having always been an active man and enjoying working outside, Wilf was keen to continue to do so.


Wilf discovered Action 21 by the off chance  ̶  when cycling down by the council tip in a yellow reflective jacket, he was mistaken for a volunteer! Once he found out about the work the charity does, Wilf was eager to get involved. Creating his own role as ‘The Dismantler’, Wilf works four days a week in the Re-Useful Centre’s yard salvaging metal, such as brass and copper, from donated and disused items. The separated metal is sold on to local scrap metal merchants, earning the charity a small sum that helps to keep it going. Wilf also chops up old wood for kindling and burning, which is sold through the shop.


For Wilf, volunteering provides the structure and responsibility of working life with the benefit of flexibility. “It’s like you are your own boss – now I know the ropes, the staff let me get on with it and I enjoy that”. He enjoys the variety the job offers: “every day is different and you are always learning”.


According to the Office of National Statistics [2], volunteering can add to greater life satisfaction for those who are retired. For many, retirement can seem a daunting prospect, lacking the daily structure and the social aspect that working life can bring. Volunteering can provide a routine and a chance to meet new people, in addition to the feel good factor of giving back to the community. Why not visit our volunteering page to see the many different ways you could get involved with Action 21?



[1] Professor James Nazaroo and Katey Matthews “The Impact of volunteering on wellbeing in later life – A report to the WRVS”, May 2012
[2] Office for National Statistics, “Measuring National well-being: Older people’s leisure time and volunteering”, April 2013