Exploring Retirement

"The institutions and instruments which have been created to meet the problem of ageing, are in no position to provide us with a policy for that great majority of retired people who present no problem at all"

Peter Laslett: A Fresh Map of Life.

Welcome to the September 2018 edition of Exploring Retirement. In 2018 we are exploring some of the roles open to people in "retirement". Not necessarily full-time, not necessarily paid but all of them interesting! This month we are looking at "Voluntourism", a term used to describe a period spent living and working overseas. Voluntourism is apparently becoming very popular with the newly retired who are seeking a sense of adventure after a lifetime of work and family responsibilities.

Exploring Retirement is fast becoming the most comprehensive source of ideas for an active retirement lifestyle on the internet.

Exploring Retirement is written by and for retired people, to assist active retirees make the most of their additional years of good health. If you are interested in writing for Exploring Retirement, please contact editor@exploringretirement.co.uk. For ideas to write about, have a glance at the July 2014 issue of Exploring Retirement, available by clicking on "Past Issues" in the navigation bar on the left of this page. These are only suggestions, please contact us if you have a different topic you would like to share your thoughts on.

We trust that you will continue to enjoy our monthly publication and please tell your friends about the site.

Writing team

We have three regular contributors on our writing team. Here they are with a brief note explaining their principal areas of interest:

John Copelton, EditorDr John Copelton - well-being in retirementMichael McSorley, contributorMichael McSorley - lively comment on sport and cultureJeannette Lewis, contributorJeannette Lewis - inspiring ideas on retirement living

Positive Retirement Study

Researchers at Northumbria University (Newcastle, UK) are conducting research to better understand what makes a positive, healthy retirement. They believe this is an important topic due to the number of older adults who have a negative retirement experience, for example, feeling depressed, lonely, or have poor physiological health.

The research team are currently recruiting retirees (or soon to be), to take part in a longitudinal study which will track their experience from employment to retirement. We hope that by taking part in this research and contributing to the knowledge around retirement transitions, you can help future retirees enjoy their well-deserved retirement.

To learn more about the study, please click here.


A Psychosocial Moratorium

The term "psychosocial moratorium" was coined by eminent psychologist Erik Erikson as long ago as the 1960's. Erikson observed that the time a young person takes out from full-time education to travel and gain work experience - "can be viewed as a psychosocial moratorium during which the young adult through free role experimentation may find a niche in some section of his society, a niche which is firmly defined and yet seems to be uniquely made for him”. Today many adults are reaching retirement who may never have had the chance to experiment in this way. Some are grasping the freedom that retirement can bring to venture away from the "safe harbour" and opt for something more exciting while they are still able to do so.

Not surprisingly, when a need arises, someone will start a business to satisfy it. There are now a number of organisations who are offering what has become known as a "grey gap year". These organisations operate a number of different models, in order to appeal to as wide range as possible of older adults. They offer everything from adventure travel holidays to working in the third world with international charities for extended periods of time.

Frequently asked questions!

Quote - Unquote

"We need not wait to see what others do."

Mahatma Gandi

Featured Activity: Projects Abroad

Projects Abroad is the world’s leading international volunteering organisation, with headquarters in the UK and offices and projects in over 50 countries around the world. Since 1992, Projects Abroad have sent volunteers to work in 38 countries and helped over 100,000 people make a lasting impact across the globe. They have grown from a small, family-run organisation in the UK to a team of over 600 people spread across 50 countries, with the vast majority working directly with volunteers on many different projects.

Programes are available in -

  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Eastern Europe
  • Latin America
  • South Pacific

Programmmes include teaching in schools, care placements helping both children and adults, and working in conservation and environmental projects. Projects Abroad places a great deal of value on older volunteers, for with age comes a mixture of experience, skills and patience that younger volunteers often cannot offer. There is a high demand for experienced professionals in areas such as medicine, nursing, physiotherapy and dentistry. Professional placements are also available in a number of other fields, such as Law & Human Rights, Veterinary Medicine and Journalism, to name but a few.

Projects Abroad offers overseas back-up for volunteers worldwide. They employ more than 700 staff who are there to help you settle in and support you throughout your stay. In every destination they have a Country Director with a staffed office. The staff have a wealth of local knowledge and all Country Directors have received training in Britain or the US and understand the needs of the volunteers. Staff are available by day at the local office, or 24 hours a day by phone.

Here is a short video of Peter Stowe, the founder of Projects Abroad, in which he explains the organisation's mission and the role it plays in partnership with local communities around the world.

You can find out more about opportunities for older volunteers with Projects Abroad by clicking here.

If you are attracted by the concept but still not sure if you are ready to make a lengthy commitment, you might be interested in a short placement that would allow you to sample the experience. Grown-up Specials are specially-designed two week volunteer placements that take place on set dates, specifically for those aged 50 plus. These are ideal for older volunteers who’d like to work in a group with like-minded people their own age. Grown-up Specials involve a combination of childcare activities and community outreach projects. You can find out more by clicking here.


Michael McSorley

Michael wrote about Brexit for the August 2016 ER issue and again 13 months later in Sept 2017, and now this one exactly 12 months further on completes a trilogy. Here he summarises the latest position on our departure from the EU, particularly with regard to Northern Ireland.

Click here to read on.

Jeanette Lewis

My wife and I spent some time last week "decluttering" our roof space. One precious object I refused to part with was my collection of vintage vinyl records! In her September article Jeanette reflects on the nostalgia we feel for the music we listened to when we were young.

Click here to read on.

Photo Gallery

A friend of my wife told her about a beautiful wild flower meadow that had been created by the National Trust at Mount Stewart, an historic property only a few miles from where we live.

We went for a walk there yesterday and were completely blown away by the display of colour on such a grand scale. In total 14 acres have been seeded with 21 varieties of native Irish flowers, including poppies, cornflowers, corn marigolds and ox-eyed daisies. No photo could possibly do it justice, it reminded me of paintings by the French impressionists.

An added bonus is that the resulting rich variety of plant life has attracted a huge population of bees and butterflies.