My generation enjoyed many privileges that are no longer dreamed of such as free university education, wide choice of secure jobs with good employment conditions and generous pension plans. When I accepted early retirement from teaching, it felt natural that I should try to give something back to society, and volunteering seemed the best way.
I completed a law degree and looked for a position where I could use my new skills. I have a special interest in medical law and ethics and was lucky to find a position with an advocacy agency where I worked on patient rights and mental health tribunals in a local hospital.
Moving to South Tyneside I trained as an advisor with the local CAB. I have worked there as a volunteer since 2006 and continue to find the experience deeply satisfying in a number of ways: the rewards of helping people, the satisfaction of applying skills learned in training to further, in a small way, the cause of social justice, the broadening of personal horizons and empathy, have all enriched my "retirement" years.
Andrew began volunteering with the Bureau after taking early retirement from the Civil Service. Although semi-retired Andrew felt he needed to keep his mind stimulated and was keen to take on the challenge of becoming a fully qualified trained CAB advisor.
Despite his early doubts Andrew has been fully trained and now advises on 2 advice sessions per week. Andrew said "I found the training to be excellent and with the support of the dedicated training officer and the rest of the staff, I exceeded my own expectations. It is so satisfying knowing that I am developing my own knowledge and skills while at the same time helping others to resolve their problems".
Karen was out of the labour market for many years as she was bringing up her young family. When her children reached school age Karen decided she needed to get back into the job market but had few qualifications and little work experience. Karen began volunteering with the Bureau and developed her knowledge and skills which helped her gain part-time employment with a local firm.
Karen enjoys her volunteering and still advises on 1 session per week in order to maintain her skills. Karen said "Becoming a CAB volunteer was one of my better decisions. Not only have I developed my listening and interviewing skills, I also have a good knowledge of most areas of law. These transferable skills definitely helped me to get back into the Labour market. I will continue to volunteer for as long as I can as I still find it so rewarding".