When you retire from work, you don't retire from life - with the change in status opening up a world of new and exciting opportunities.
Volunteering is a popular choice, as people offer their skills and knowledge to local projects and communities. Among our Festival City Volunteers are a number of retirees, and one, Fiona White, shares her experience of joining the team.
Pictured: Fiona, second from left, on shift last August
I retired from teaching in the summer of 2018. I'm originally from Broughty Ferry and studied at Edinburgh University and I am extremely interested in the Arts despite doing a Maths degree. I have stayed since University, many of my relatives come from here, and I love Edinburgh as a city!
In April 2018 details appeared in my school email about the Festival City Volunteers and I thought that it would be good to get involved to keep myself busy in August when the schools went back, to re-engage with the Festivals, and to welcome visitors to Edinburgh and share my city with them. I applied, was interviewed and was accepted as a team leader.
I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, despite the weather at times, and met so many interesting people. I do think that many recently retired people would enjoy this experience as it gets you out and about as well as introducing you to volunteering. Some of the other volunteers have gone on to do different types of volunteering activities.
The public welcomed us, including locals who thought the project was a good idea. Some visitors just took the maps while others were looking for advice or directions. I had some great conversations with visitors from all over the world and even in the rain they were impressed with Edinburgh.
Pictured: Fiona, centre, at Edinburgh Airport - one of our local supporters
There were many memorable moments; such as when one of the volunteers was caught up in one of the silent discos and was carried away up Waverley Bridge, watching the Tattoo rehearsal with other volunteers, and when visitors came back and thanked us for our help.
As well as the obvious, which was being a visible presence and helping visitors get the most out of the Festivals and their stay in Edinburgh, I enjoyed mentoring during my shifts, where I helped other volunteers to build up their confidence so that they could perhaps move on into employment.
This was linked to some of the young people with additional needs and it was good to help them improve their people and communication skills. This might be due to my teaching background!
Pictured: Fiona, far left, volunteering with a smile in spite of the rain!
Some of the volunteers were new to Edinburgh and it definitely helped them to get to know the city and make new friends. I would say that the opportunity of working in different teams ensured that you met a good number of the volunteers and this meant that when we attended cultural activities or social events you already knew quite a few people.
All the events attended were great fun and I know that it has been good to keep in touch with other volunteers. The team system overall worked really well and as team leader you made sure that you played to the strengths of your team and supported everyone in it.
I would volunteer again and have already mentioned the programme to other people. I really enjoyed the whole experience and it fulfilled my original objectives.
Thank you Fiona for all your effort as a Festival City Volunteers team leader - we hope to see you back as part of Team 2019!