Teresa's volunteering story

Tell us about your volunteering role

"I volunteer with the Surrey Community Archaeological Unit once a week. As a part of this, I might be out on digs or inside helping to catalogue, sort, draw or photograph interesting historical artefacts found by archaeologists.

I have also had other voluntary roles. I have volunteered with the National Trust as an education volunteer, showing school groups around Dapdune Wharf. Also, I have got involved in local adult education, learning Italian for five years."

How did you get into volunteering?

"I took early retirement to look after my new born grandson and saw volunteering as a positive opportunity to stay active and fill my time. I ended up easing myself into volunteering as I stepped back from the world of work.

I always had an interest in archaeology that I never had the chance to follow. I undertook an Open University short course in archaeological studies and I knew that I couldn't just sit around. I looked through websites and it was just about having the nerve to apply.

After that, it was quick getting started. I didn't need any qualifications, everyone is more than welcome to come along and volunteer."

How flexible is the role?

"SCAU are very flexible with the amount of time volunteers can give. It is just a matter of coming whenever you can. For example, if you are going to visit a relative and can't make it, it's no problem at all. There is no compunction there. Organisations have been very friendly and helpful in getting me started in volunteering roles too."

What do you find most rewarding about the role?

"I have ended up doing what I love. I get real enjoyment from it and have the chance to meet people from all sorts of different walks of life. Volunteering can help people to avoid isolation in retirement. I knew that I couldn't just stay at home; it's about having the confidence to volunteer and knowing that you will be welcomed by organisers and other volunteers.

It has allowed me to use the skills I gained from my History degree and given me the opportunity to learn a lot. Working archaeologists are more than happy to help and explain things whenever they can. I also became a volunteer at the National Trust and after training joined the Events/Education team.

You also get a feeling of self-worth as you know that you are of use to the community, helping with cultural services. Having had such a good experience, I now manage volunteers myself, at the Surrey Heath Archaeological Heritage Trust."

What advice about volunteering would you give someone approaching retirement?

"If I was to give any advice to someone approaching retirement and thinking of volunteering, I would just say to have the confidence and know that you will be welcomed by organisers and other volunteers. Also, you can easily find opportunities online."

Thinking about volunteering in your retirement but not sure where to start? Check out our guide which has everything you need to know about volunteering in retirement and why you should give it a try.

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