Being retired doesn’t mean being redundant. A person’s skills, experience and time are still extremely valuable outside of the workforce.
Rod Mitchell, who is national chair and national strategy coordinator for the Citizens’ Climate Lobby Australia, says retirement is an opportunity to do even more than you did before but in a way of your own choosing.
“Volunteers are incredibly valuable to society and it’s not a oneway street as there are great personal rewards that come from volunteering,” Rod says.
Before retirement, Rod worked in a number of roles including community development, stress-related counselling and training through various government and local government bodies. He also lectured at Curtin University and provided vital counselling for asylum seekers. While Rod has always had a keen interest in environmental issues he found that, as retirement drew nearer, the issues surrounding climate change were becoming a growing concern for him.
“I wanted to engage more with the climate crisis issue and was extremely frustrated that the topic was being ignored by politicians and decision makers,” Rod explains.
“I met a woman at a ‘Care of Environment’ conference in Canada and she told me about the Citizens’ Climate Lobby and I could see it was something worthwhile to be involved in. Not long after that I trained as a volunteer with them and in 2014 I took on the role of establishing a branch of the CCL in Australia and became the national coordinator.”
Rod says the primary objective of the Citizens Climate Lobby is to create the political will for a livable world. To do that, the group focuses on key areas that will have the greatest influence on democracy. CCL refers to these as the “five levers of political will”; lobbying, media, grassroots, grasstops and groups. Volunteer activities within these areas can be anything from writing letters to the media, writing to local members of parliament and other politicians, helping organise local community events and promoting CCL messages and events on social media. Members also meet regularly to discuss climate change issues and gain further information from guest speakers.
“All our volunteers receive training via a workshop on Zoom and through that we identify their key skills and interests so we can match them with various opportunities to be involved. We have people of all ages joining us and we currently have around 4000 volunteers across Australia.
A growing number of people are feeling frustrated by the lack of government action on climate change and that frustration can lead to a sense of hopelessness, to depression and anger. Volunteering, regardless of the organisation, can provide a great sense of purpose and satisfaction. In the case of volunteering with CCL it’s about boosting hope and hope is an antidote for hopelessness.”
Rod adds that retirement often leads to the loss of the social network that work and careers create.
“When you’re disengaged your energy levels drop and you become more prone to illness. Volunteering creates connection and fellowship which in turn works to re-energise you. People often refer to the mental health benefits of volunteering but I see it more as emotional health. We really appreciate our volunteers and in that comes a sense of feeling valued. For those of us with grandkids, we worry about the state we’re leaving our planet in for them so by volunteering in the realm of climate change you can feel pride in knowing you’re doing something to improve that future.”
For more information on Citizens’ Climate Lobby and how you can be involved, visit au.citizensclimatelobby.org