Volunteering Auckland’s Ambassador Programme is designed to ease the transition to retirement by giving those still working the opportunity to volunteer in the lead up to their retirement.

Volunteering Auckland general manager Cheryll Martin. Photo/supplied

Volunteering Auckland general manager Cheryll Martin said the programme is a world first and will open up a new life for people once they retire by allowing them to work with organisations that match their values and interests.

“By volunteering through the Ambassador Programme, those thinking about leaving the workforce will not only have a chance to continue using their skills, but will also realise they have a lot more to offer and new skills to learn.”

Retiring can be a scary prospect for people and more effort needs to be made by employers to support people out of the workforce in the same way that people are often eased into a job when they start, she said.

AUT Centre for Active Ageing co-director Valerie Wright-St Clair. Photo/supplied

AUT Centre for Active Ageing co-director Valerie Wright-St Clair said volunteering provides a way for people to be productive later in life which is essential for mental and physical wellbeing in elderly.

“Volunteering has shown a huge positive effect on the mental health and happiness of people and can help reduce loneliness.

“For many people, the workplace is where their social connections exist and it is how they understand who they are. Formal volunteering can help build new social connection networks and positive role-identities before they retire.

“The Ambassador Programme will be a fruitful way to transition.”

Employers who support the programme will be ccontributing positively towards supporting older employees to transition well out of paid employment, she said.

“Major role-identity absence can occur when people transition out of full paid employment.

“Role-identity absences are a strong risk factor for poor mental wellbeing. Formal volunteering can help create positive role-identity for those transitioning out of paid work.”

Age Concern national social connection adviser Louise Rees said volunteering can provide structure, purpose, social interactions and support.

“Retirement represents a major life transition, and people of any age can experience loneliness and social isolation when existing social networks and patterns of interaction are disrupted.

“It’s good to see a programme which provides practical support to individuals and employers looking to ease the transition out of paid work, and facilitate connection to meaningful post-retirement activity.”

Age Concern has about 2500 volunteers who provide company for older people and more than half of those volunteers are over 65.

“Many volunteers refer to the person they visit as their friend and tell us about outings, fun and laughter enjoyed together.

“So they are experiencing a sense of purpose, as well as social connection with the person they visit, and with their coordinator and fellow volunteers.”

Volunteering Auckland’s Ambassador Programme was launched by AUT’s Centre for Active Ageing celebrating International Day for Older Persons on October 1.

The Programme will be introduced to those considering retirement, giving a taste of volunteering in a meaningful way.

Volunteering Auckland will meet with the individual to match them with a volunteering position that suits their needs and interests.

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