Skip to content
Please donate

The power of volunteering

An older woman and younger woman sit next to each other on a sofa, laughing

Making a difference

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Age UK, examines why giving time to good causes is so rewarding, and shares why he treasures Age UK's many volunteers.



PaulFarmer500x500.jpgVolunteering is a terrific idea. At its heart is a simple concept: we give something that is incredibly precious – our time – to help people, our community or wider society.

For most of my adult life, I’ve volunteered – as a Samaritan, with the Scouts when our children were young, at our local church, and as a Trustee for several charities. I always get something back from giving up some of my time. I’ve made lifelong friends, I’ve learnt new skills, and I hope I’ve made a small difference.

A positive impact

I know from my days at Mind that there is good evidence that volunteering is beneficial for your mental health, and that it creates that vital sense of connection with our community. Over the years, volunteering has changed hugely. Micro-volunteering, formal volunteering, and digital and telephone volunteering offer just a few ways for us to take part, as well as positions as Trustees. Despite all the challenges of the last few years, it’s now easier than ever to give your time.

The Big Help Out

Age UK is proud to be a partner of The Big Help Out. Forming a central part of The King's Coronation celebrations in May, thousands of organisations from across the UK will provide opportunities to volunteer and make a positive difference.

Find out more

Every volunteer makes a difference and with many thousands you can see the impact volunteering makes. We're extremely fortunate at Age UK that so many people volunteer for us and that there are so many volunteering opportunities. Astonishingly, there are 26,859 formal volunteers across the Age UK network locally and nationally, plus another 111,830 digital campaigners. Collectively, they make an extraordinary contribution to our work in supporting older people. And of course many of our volunteers are older people themselves.

Memorable conversations

KingCharles500x300(3).jpgThe power of volunteering was really visible recently when we hosted around 50 volunteers at a very special tea party in Colchester, with our guests His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen Consort.

It was a joy to meet volunteers for the Age UK Telephone Friendship Service. This is such a simple yet brilliant idea. Lauren, who is in her mid-20s, works in HR and has been volunteering with the telephone friendship service for two years. She gives half an hour of her time every week to speak on the phone with her telephone friend.

Lauren decided to start volunteering after experiencing a taste of what it was like to feel lonely during the pandemic. “Although I was working every day and interacting with friends and family I still felt lonely, especially as I lived alone,” Lauren told us. “The evenings felt like days rather than hours. I remember thinking a lot about those who must feel like this every day, not just in lockdown. Despite the fact I felt lonely I knew I still had people to speak to, but some people have no one, which is why I decided to do something to help.

“I love chatting to the older lady I’ve been matched with – the joy I know our calls bring her each week makes me so happy. We both look forward to our chats and we love knowing about each other’s lives. I got a puppy, Rosie, about six months after we began speaking, and she loves hearing about her as she’s not able to have a dog in the flat she lives in. I go and get photos of Rosie printed and send them to her through Age UK, so she’s been able to watch her grow up with me!

KingCharles_500x300(1).jpg“Being here today felt so special – it was lovely to meet other volunteers and get the chance to meet The King. He was so easy to chat to – I told him all about my Age UK friend and Rosie of course.”

Atique also supports older people directly, as a volunteer for The Silver Line. Technology has made this much easier as he’s able to do his shifts from home, but still gets good support from the team as some of the calls can be really tough.

“It gives me a purpose.”

Sajeda has been volunteering with Age UK Barnet since 2014, and relishes teaching cookery classes there. 

Read more

Taking advantage of opportunities

Many employers like Sky and Barclays now encourage their staff to volunteer by giving them time to do so. I’ve seen and met Sky volunteers in Gateshead, Edinburgh, Tameside, and both companies were represented in Colchester last week.

Our volunteering doesn’t stop there. I met Elizabeth, Susan and Cynthia, who volunteer regularly at Age UK’s Colchester shop. They get so much out of this – connection with the public, making friendships, and of course, supporting Age UK.

Finally, we met volunteers from one of our local partners, Age UK Norwich. There are many volunteering opportunities across the Age UK network, and I’ve already met volunteers from as far afield as North Tyneside and Bognor Regis. At our tea party was Anna, who is one of around 1000 Trustees of local Age UKs. She is responsible for the running of Age UK Norwich, and brings her life experience to support the running of one of our local partners.

This week has seen the launch of The Big Help Out, which Age UK is proud to be a partner of. This major initiative will form a central part of the Coronation celebrations in May. It has the backing of The King and Queen Consort, and features organisations ranging from the Premier League to the Church of England, from the Scouts to the RSPCA. We hope that many people will take this opportunity to start volunteering for Age UK and boost our ability to help more older people.

You can make a difference too

Whether you can spare 30 minutes, a few hours or a whole day a week, find out how you can give your time to help us support older people.

Share this page

Last updated: Jun 20 2023

You might also be interested in

An older man and a younger man, smiling together

Creating hope

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Age UK, reflects on the importance of hope in meeting the many challenges ahead.

Become part of our story

Sign up today

Back to top