By Rachel Lankester, Mutton Club editor

Ever thought you didn’t have time for volunteering, with all your other commitments? There are actually many ways to volunteer that don’t require a huge time commitment and which can fit in with your day to day life, even a full time job.

Often in midlife we start to think about having more of a sense of purpose in our lives. I know I did! I wanted to start giving back. But how best to do that and how to fit it in with everything else going on?

time for volunteering

When I went looking, I discovered that just an hour and a half a week in the UK, for example, is enough to help three primary school children improve their reading, often giving them a head start that will help throughout their lives.

The pandemic made it easier to find volunteering opportunities. We’ve collected some of the best organizations to contact to be able to make a difference when your time is limited. Hopefully these opportunities also suit women in midlife and beyond!

Here are some of my favourite sources of easy volunteering opportunities in the UK:

Beanstalk is a national charity that recruits, vets, trains and supports volunteers to provide one-to-one reading support in primary schools to children who have fallen behind with their reading. Volunteers are asked to commit to two one and a half hour sessions per week to work with the same group of three children.

So three hours a week to empower three children for life. Occasionally one session per week can also be agreed if another reading helper would like to share.

Home Start is another great charity which depends on volunteers. Home-Start supports families who are struggling to cope in more than 300 communities across the UK. Support is delivered by volunteers, in the family’s home, for a couple of hours every week.

They also run family groups and social events for families. Find your local Home-Start here to contact them regarding current volunteering opportunities.

Age UK is always in need of volunteers and you could become a befriender making a half hour call each week to an older person. So you can make a difference with just 30 minutes a week.

The Royal Volunteer Service is a great place to find local volunteering opportunities – sometimes on an ad hoc basis, so it doesn’t always need to be a regular commitment. There are lots of regular befriending opportunities through them too.

If you can’t squeeze in volunteering time, but would still like to have a personal connection with someone in need, why not sponsor a child? They could benefit enormously, not just from the money you send, but from the regular correspondence between the two of you.


Our favourite child sponsorship organisation is Plan because they are particularly focused on girls’ rights. Plan is a global children’s charity and works in the world’s poorest countries to help children build a better future.

Plan takes action and stands up for every child’s right to fulfil their potential by:

  • giving children a healthy start in life, including access to safe drinking water
  • securing the education of girls and boys
  • working with communities to prepare for and survive disasters
  • inspiring children to take a lead in decisions that affect their lives
  • enabling families to earn a living and plan for their children’s future
plan finger image

Plan also has a fantastic Because I am a Girl campaign which campaigns against child marriage, FGM, child labour and girl’s rights. All issues the Mutton Club is passionate about too.  You can find out how to sponsor a child for less than 50 British pence a day here.

I hope you’ll be inspired to find a volunteering opportunity that works for you. It’s superbly fulfilling to be able to give back your time and experience for someone else’s benefit. Giving back is also proven to make us happier! Good luck!

You may also like How To Avoid White Savior Complex and How To Establish A Sense Of Community Through Volunteering


Rachel Lankester is the founder of Magnificent Midlife, author, host of the Magnificent Midlife Podcast, a midlife mentor and editor of the Mutton Club online magazine. After an initially devastating early menopause at 41, she dedicated herself to helping women vibrantly transition through the sometimes messy middle of life, helping them cope better with menopause and ageing in general, and create magnificent next chapters. She’s been featured in/on BBC Woman’s Hour, The Huffington Post, The Sunday Times, Thrive Global, Authority Magazine, The Age Buster, Woman’s Weekly, Prima Magazine, eShe, Tatler HK and Woman’s Own amongst others. She believes we just get better with age. Get her book Magnificent Midlife: Transform Your Middle Years, Menopause and Beyond which was recommended in the New York Times.

Last Updated on January 31, 2023 by Editorial Staff

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