Family & Education

From fitness to housing, we help you map out the years ahead

Volunteering could start a new chapter in your life and open up a range of possibilities, with opportunities to learn new things, meet new people and take on some exciting tasks


If life begins at 60, one has wasted a lot of time. Shall we instead say: “A new chapter in life begins at 60?” For example, when you retire from paid employment (you should be so lucky). Or when the children leave home, or when you become a grandparent? Or when you divorce and start dating again? Or when you become a serious volunteer? Or all of the above?

My mantra is “This life is not a rehearsal — it is the real thing”. Time is precious and must not be wasted. And so, what to do with the many years, we hope, we have to spend after the age of 60? Life expectancy nationally is now 77, but in our community it is perhaps around 80 to 85 years. The average age at present in Nightingale Hammerson is 90, with 10 per cent of the residents over the age of 100 and an entry age of around 89 years.

As a lifelong volunteer, I am going to spend a few moments talking about what volunteering has meant to me and what it has done for my life.

Being one of the last of the dinosaurs who did not go to university, did not work for a salary after I was married at the age of 22 and had children very young — and I have the good fortune to be married to a feminist — I acknowledge I may be one of a small minority, but nevertheless perhaps an example of what can be done with those precious years leading from youth to senior citizen status.

Much, of course, depends on fate or good fortune; let us acknowledge the importance of good health, economic wellbeing and sound relationships with friends, colleagues and family.

Also, we must always be ready to face the possibility of changing circumstances, such as the physical signs of the passing years, caring for older family members (which I did for five years following my mother’s stroke) and concerns regarding how to secure the necessary financial support for that big unknown — how long will this period of life last?

My volunteering experiences, which began in a very small way, have allowed me to meet people from all walks of life, given me the opportunity to travel extensively as a representative of NGOs attending conferences around the world, educated me and exposed me to the trials and tribulations of a vast number of the developing world’s peoples — and then directed my attention to those much nearer home, still needing help and support of all kinds.

As a volunteer I have benefited and gained to a far greater extent than I have contributed — although I do hope that has not been an insubstantial amount. What I have learnt is that individual action can make a difference and joint action can move mountains.

My first exposure, as a volunteer, to the workings of a charity was as a member of British Wizo, of which I am still a proud member, now as an honorary vice president and senior member of the executive committee. It was here, all those years ago, that I was encouraged to take a leadership role, experienced the agony of speaking in public for the first time, learned how to work as a member of a large team and discovered the pleasure and joy of contributing to the welfare of the underprivileged women and children of Israel.

From that beginning and through representing the organisation at international level, I found myself at major conferences — in both Jewish and non-Jewish circles — gaining experience and joining others, mainly but not exclusively women, helping to right wrongs and hoping to make the world a better place.

A few examples — I attended the UN Women’s conferences in Copenhagen, where I found myself facing the PLO representative Leila Khaled; in Amman, Jordan, I was present as a member of the British Interfaith delegation, which was led by Prince Philip and hosted by the brother of the late King of Jordan. In Rome, we were guests of the Pope and stayed in the Vatican for an international interfaith conference; in Moscow I led a delegation of women as guests of the Russian Federation of Women.

And in many capital cities I took part in meetings of the International Council of Jewish Women, World Wizo and the International Council of Women during my term as chairman of the National Council of Women GB.

Now I am privileged and proud to work as president of the Jewish Volunteering Network, enabling and assisting individuals to join the ranks of the volunteering workforce and helping charities to find the special person or people they need.

What will happen in the next chapter of your life?


If you have been inspired by Ros’s story, volunteering could start a new chapter in your life and open up a range of possibilities, with opportunities to learn new things, meet new people and take on some exciting tasks. JVN (Jewish Volunteering Network) is here to help you sift through the options and make the most of your free time. Begin your volunteering journey at, on the mobile app (search “JVN”), or call 020 8203 6427 extension 3 to arrange a face-to-face meeting

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