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Is Volunteering a moral duty to "give something back"?

(103 Posts)
biglouis Thu 29-Sep-22 17:51:47

Interesting thread on mumsnet with an OP suggesting that those of us who retire in good health - particularly younger retirees - have some kind of moral duty to "give something back" to the community.

People volunteer for all kinds of reasons and often for reasons which will also benefit them - company, a new interest, giving structure to their time, etc - as much as to benefit a client or service user group.

I dont volunteer because I run an antiques business. So I am still providing a valuable service whereby old things are recycled and 90% of my stuff goes international. When I look back at the work I did as an employed person, the years of effort to qualify and the high taxes I paid I feel Ive put more than enough into the kitty already.

GagaJo Thu 29-Sep-22 17:54:08

I think so, yes. I still work full-time but work odd hours. I'm considering volunteering at DGS's school. Not his class obviously, but to offer support. It's what civic minded people do I think.

My mum had 30 years of retirement. That's a lot of free time for a healthy woman.

rafichagran Thu 29-Sep-22 17:59:03

No, I dont have any moral duty to do it, I will retire next year, and that time is my own.
I have things I want to do, I have worked for years and plan to enjoy my retirement.
My partner and I are looking to go away more.

Kim19 Thu 29-Sep-22 17:59:20

When I retired fully from my life in the financial arena, I volunteered with the NHS and ambulance service as I was keen to learn inside workings of these organisations. I did this out itself interest as well as a desire to 'give something back'. Worked well for me even though some of my discoveries were a bit disappointing. Many were also hugely uplifting. I phased out slowly and am now the ultimate lazy of leisure!

Grandmabatty Thu 29-Sep-22 18:05:48

I provide childcare two days a week and visit mum another day. I don't consider I have to 'give anything back'. I've been a teacher, a Sunday school teacher, run cubs and brownies. I've paid taxes all my working life. I will volunteer at the boys'school as the Depute Head and I worked together a few years ago and she's keen to get me involved. But I get irritated at this assumption that I should be further contributing to society.

Aveline Thu 29-Sep-22 18:08:49

I don't feel I have a 'moral duty' to volunteer. I do it because I want to and enjoy doing it. I feel that over my life and career I've more than done my moral duty.

BlueBelle Thu 29-Sep-22 18:09:11

No I don’t think you should volunteer by force (so to speak)
I ve done voluntary work for a good part of my life even when working but it’s been for me and my needs as much as for the cause I was volunteering for We both gained
If people felt they had to it wouldn’t be ‘volunteering’ would it ?

RichmondPark1 Thu 29-Sep-22 18:10:38

The concept of 'giving something back' is interesting to me.

It suggests that something is being taken and I'm not sure what that is.

When most people retire they have already spent a lifetime working, volunteering, giving their time to local groups, raising families, paying taxes, sitting on committes, supporting charities etc. What is it that us retired people owe and to whom?

I volunteer so have nothing against volunteering but do question if it's a duty.

GrannyRose15 Thu 29-Sep-22 18:12:13

I don't think retirees have a "moral duty" to volunteer but I do see why a lot of people would want to, and know it to be a valuable experience. I volunteered for many years, firstly when I had children at school and later while working part time. I got an enormous amount of pleasure out of knowing I was contributing to a charity. Sadly, that all stopped when restrictions came in and I haven't returned. Don't know yet whether I ever shall as anno domini has taken its toll on my energy levels.

Margiknot Thu 29-Sep-22 18:13:13

We can all 'give back' in different ways- volunteering is only one way- and there are many ways to help out/ give back without regular volunteering commitments.

Blossoming Thu 29-Sep-22 18:13:53

Since my brain injury I’ve done voluntary work with disability charities because I want to help people who find themselves in the awful position I was once in. Not a lot I can do physically but I have helped with tech stuff.

biglouis Thu 29-Sep-22 18:17:13

I feel that the suggestion on the mumsnet thread was part of the pathetic "boomers have ruined things for us younger people" argument so they should be putting something back.

Forgive me if I shed a tear and go find my small violin.

If you go with that tenuous argument what happened to all the years of work and paying taxes that older people have already put into the kitty? Where did that go? We didnt have all these laws to protect our employment rights, virtual assistants and all the rest of the technology.

M0nica Thu 29-Sep-22 18:17:21

I know I have had a very fortunate life and for that reason I feel that, yes, I should be prepared to help other people, less frtunate if I can, or in some way that contributes to the life of of society as a whole.

Since I retired I have volunteered with Age UK as a Home Visitor, worked for a heritage charity, tried to always be willing to help anyone who needs help, friend, relation or stranger.

kittylester Thu 29-Sep-22 18:21:36

I was a SAHM and have volunteered since my children started school.

I felt I had a moral responsibility to do so as we were fortunate enough for me not to have to work.

My volunteering roles have given ne so much in terms of training and experiences and I hope that I have repaid that.

Glorianny Thu 29-Sep-22 18:22:46

I don't think I had a moral duty to volunteer, but I've had some great times doing it. Danced and performed, dressed up, run a fashion show, sorted costumes. I've learned loads of stuff, made some wonderful friends, had great times and been thanked for it. If it gets me moral brownie points as well that's a bonus.

Mollygo Thu 29-Sep-22 18:27:30

No. Volunteering is something I do at the weekend in our local park because I enjoy it. Duties, moral or otherwise might be enjoyable but volunteering is exactly that.

dogsmother Thu 29-Sep-22 18:43:55

I do and I love my volunteer role, however as my working life was physical and in health care there no way in the world I feel obliged to “give back” as I have given imho all of my working life I’m done! The moment I feel I’m under obligation or needed I think I will be out.

GagaJo Thu 29-Sep-22 18:46:52

Nice to see a few on here who still want to contribute.

AreWeThereYet Thu 29-Sep-22 19:03:41

I don't see it as 'giving something back' but putting something in to my community. There are loads of ways of volunteering, and there's no point doing something you begrudge.

Without all the people around here who spend their time working on community projects (village hall, schools, clubs like Scouts, fetes, etc) our village would be much poorer. Over the years our village society has planted thousands of bulbs that bring our village alive every Spring. We've just planted a new orchard with fruit for any villager to pick. We run local food banks. The societies are a way of new people integrating into the village and older people keeping in touch.

Ilovecheese Thu 29-Sep-22 19:08:05

Not as much of a moral duty as paying your taxes. In a way I see the need for so many volunteers as a failure of the state.
I think we should contribute to society as we can. If you can't pay high taxes you can try and give blood, for instance.

Casdon Thu 29-Sep-22 19:09:00

I think while we are fit we should contribute in some way, but I’d include looking after grandchildren, older relatives, neighbours, and good deeds that help others as well as volunteering, because all those things help contribute to society. It’s sad that so many organisations struggle for volunteers, and need them to fulfil roles that really warrant paid staff.

rafichagran Thu 29-Sep-22 19:11:19


Nice to see a few on here who still want to contribute.

Yes I agree,but it should should not be a moral obligation. Not something I want to do when I retire. I think the suggestion is ludicrous.
Why should I have to give back something now, I have given all my working life.

Gillycats Thu 29-Sep-22 19:11:59

People should volunteer because they want to. However, many charities are really struggling for help and I find that staggering. So very few people offer their time, yet the abuse suffered by charity workers at times is getting worse. People contact them for help then, because of a lack of fundraising and helpers , when they don’t get the help they’re demanding get quite unpleasant. It’s very frustrating.

GagaJo Thu 29-Sep-22 19:15:28



Nice to see a few on here who still want to contribute.

Yes I agree,but it should should not be a moral obligation. Not something I want to do when I retire. I think the suggestion is ludicrous.
Why should I have to give back something now, I have given all my working life.

Currently the UK has a lot of young retirees. Young people today will work a lot longer. I think it's only fair that those who will have benefitted the most out of a society put back.

We all pay tax (well, if we work we do). Giving something to your local community is a very positive thing.

VioletSky Thu 29-Sep-22 19:17:49

If and when I retire I fully plan to volunteer, I feel as you get older it is a case of, use it or lose it and I don't want to have no structure to my life as I don't do well without it