The Retired and Senior Volunteer Programme (RSVP) is a programme within Volunteering Matters that provides opportunities for people aged 50 and over to use their energy, enthusiasm and experience to improve the health and wellbeing of others, reduce social isolation and alleviate disadvantage in their communities

Locally based and responding to local needs, RSVP projects take many different forms across the UK. Projects are led by volunteer Organisers, who recruit, manage and support groups or teams of volunteers. In general, projects undertaken by RSVP groups are self-funded through local fundraising and grants.

Beneficiaries may be of all ages. Volunteer driver schemes very often benefit older people, but can be an essential help to many.

Volunteers can help children in schools, or on hospital wards. Knitting groups meet for coffee and a chat but their work will often be distributed locally and abroad.

Four volunteers under a tent in front of an RSVP banner

RSVP is represented within Volunteering Matters by the RSVP Steering Group – a group of RSVP Organisers advised and supported by staff members from Volunteering Matters.

To find out how you can get involved with RSVP as an organiser, volunteer or as a beneficiary, scroll down the page and explore the opportunities available. Or click here to:

Knitting and craft groups

  • Running across the UK
  • This project is not just an enjoyable pastime, it is a social opportunity for isolated older people to become a part of a community
  • Positive Impact on older peoples’ health and well-being

Our RSVP knitting and craft groups provide an opportunity for older people to be social, make new friends, and meet people in their community they can rely on. It is also a good opportunity for older people to still feel useful in retirement and to be able to give back to their community. Groups create an array of knitted materials from items for premature babies to twiddle-muffs for people with dementia. These goods are distributed locally and even internationally.

Our RSVP knitting groups are growing increasingly popular, with thousands of social action knitters across the UK producing in excess of 50 big bin-bags full of knitted goods per month.

With the number of older people living alone in rural areas growing, or with families who have moved away, or who just don’t want to feel like a burden to family and friends, finding a community group of like-minded people can be difficult.

Volunteer knitters attend their local knitting groups where they can purchase low cost wool or are provided with wool, and sit down for a knit and a natter. Some groups even provide transport for knitters who may not be able to get around so easily.

There are opportunities available in the following areas. The locations in purple can be clicked to take you more information on an external website:

Current volunteering opportunities

Knitting Group Volunteer Organiser (Blaenau Gwent)

Full details

Knitting Group Volunteer (Forth Valley)

Full details

Volunteer Knitter (Exmouth)

Full details

Norfolk, Suffolk & Essex Knitters

Full details

Knitting Group Volunteer (Glasgow)

Full details

Support for children in school


  • Supporting children and schools across the UK
  • Supporting children  with their reading or maths skills, with some schools requiring support in specialised subjects
  • The Retired and Senior Volunteer Programme (RSVP) offers volunteering in local schools across the UK, for people aged 50+. Older volunteers supporting young school pupils with their learning on a one to one or small group basis can help to improve students’ confidence, social skills and capability in school.

    Volunteers are supported in their placements at local schools by RSVP Volunteer Organisers. Depending on the needs of the school and children, volunteers are matched with students who may be struggling with their reading, their math skills or other learning.  Volunteers will work either one-to-one or with small groups to help improve the confidence of young people with their learning and support them to develop.

    Although the majority of our school volunteering opportunities are based in primary schools, a small percentage support secondary schools.

    With school class sizes increasing due to a growing population, especially in large cities, pupils may find themselves receiving less one to one direction and support from their teachers. The RSVP school volunteers support the teachers and their pupils, providing direct educational support to those children who need it most.

    “To engage with a child, gain their trust and see their skills develop and flourish is really rewarding and heartening.”  Sue Laraman

    • Lambeth
    • RSVP Forth Valley (Falkirk, Stirling & Clackmannanshire)
    • RSVP West
    • Exeter

A person holding a piece of artwork up to the carmera

Current volunteering opportunities

School Organiser (Stirling & Clackmannanshire)

Full details

Schools Volunteer (Forth Valley)

Full details

RSVP Schools Volunteer (West of England)

Full details

NHS and GP services

  • These opportunities are run primarily in RSVP West and RSVP Forth Valley
  • Activities vary greatly from project to project
  • Volunteers provide support and / or befriending services for patients and the general public attending healthcare facilities

Volunteers provide support and / or befriending services for patients and the general public attending healthcare facilities.

In NHS Forth Valley opportunities are available in both inpatient and out-patient areas.  People attending healthcare appointments may be anxious and in a strange environment and they appreciate a welcoming and friendly face. The staff acknowledge the value of volunteers who carry out simple tasks like handing out cups of tea, thereby releasing time for the staff to provide essential medical care that only they can do. The Audiology team volunteers work very closely with the staff team and carry out maintenance of and minor repairs to hearing aids.

A wide range of opportunities includes Meet and Greet roles or supporting the Children’s ward Play leader, staff and patients in the Emergency department or visitors to the Intensive Care Unit.

In RSVP West there are a range of GP service support and driving schemes. There are opportunities for volunteers to bring older patients to the surgery and take them home again. Opportunities for volunteers to visit socially isolated patients at home.

Volunteering for your local surgery helps GPs and nurses, makes a big difference to the lives of the people you are helping and is hugely rewarding for you. If you like meeting people and enjoy sharing your time with them, you are the person we are looking for.

For more information on RSVP surgery schemes visit here.

RSVP Forth Valley

Hospital support in NHS Forth Valley across a range of departments and services.

RSVP West (Bristol, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire and Bath & North East Somerset).

GP service support.

Older person in a white NHS tshirt standing next to an NHS Forth Valley sign which says GP and minor injuries centre

Current volunteering opportunities

NHS Volunteer (Forth Valley)

Full details

Opportunities on external websites

Visit RSVP West website (External Link)

This is for people living in Bristol, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire and Bath & North East Somerset.

Walking and outdoor activities

  • Opportunities enabling outdoor exercise
  • Positive impact on older peoples’ health and well-being

Download the Walking Schedule (Forth Valley)

(April – June 2024)

RSVP Walking groups are led by older volunteers who are trained locally to support like-minded people to enjoy getting exercise outdoors and to meet other people.  Walks will generally vary depending on the ability of the participants.

Academic studies have reported on the benefits of outdoor exercise which boosts both physical and mental well-being.  Volunteer walk leaders often have wealth of experience and may have walked wide and far during their lives. They are essential to these groups and enable people in their local communities to experience or re-connect with the wider world outside.

Twigs Garden Club is all about providing a ‘laid back gardening for all’ approach to gardening. This project is open for all ages and people with a large or small garden or just a window box, can go along and discuss their interest, socialise and make new friends.

Four people walking on a path. The front walkers are disappearing into a tree. All are wearing colourful waterproofs

Current volunteering opportunities

Walk Leader (Stirling & Clackmannanshire)

Full details

Walking Group Member (Stirling & Clackmannanshire)

Full details

Walking Group Member (Liskeard)

Full details

Opportunities on external websites

Caradon Monthly Walkers (West of England)

This is for people living in Bristol, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire and Bath & North East Somerset.

Driving schemes

  • For older or more vulnerable people who may struggle to get around easily
  • Service varies greatly from project to project

Driving schemes are a lifeline to some older and more vulnerable people. For some older people living in rural locations, getting to essential appointments or visiting friends may be challenging because there is no access to public transport. Other people may be unable to walk for long distances and do not have family or friends nearby to assist with travel.

For things like attending hospital or doctors’ appointments or just visiting friends, this can have a huge impact on their lives.

RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Programme) runs driving schemes  which provide free or low-cost door-to-door service for older or more vulnerable people. Service varies project to project, but all opportunities are available for those who need it, and we are always looking for new volunteers to give back and make a difference in their community. Some RSVP Driver projects, supply volunteer drivers for healthcare appointments, whereas others support a wider range of needs.

Any volunteering is completely flexible and based around the availability of the volunteer. As is expected, the driving scheme goes hand in hand with befriending. Whether an official part of the project or not, all our volunteer drivers are chatty and friendly, and can offer even just ten minutes of conversations for users of the service.

Most of the RSVP Driving groups are in RSVP West but there is one attached to a GP surgery in Goole.

A volunteer in a white tshirt supporting a person who is leaving their house walking to the car

Current volunteering opportunities

Volunteer Driver (Rawcliffe and Snaith)

Full details

Opportunities on external websites

Visit RSVP West website (External Link)

This is for people living in Bristol, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire and Bath & North East Somerset.

Additional opportunities

  • These are unique or one-off volunteer opportunities
  • They may be long term or may have a specific short term goal
  • All RSVP roles provide opportunity for people to support their local or wider community

Current volunteering opportunities

Commonwealth War Graves Volunteer (Barnsley)

Full details

Handyperson Organiser (Stirlingshire & Clackmannanshire)

Full details

Handyperson (Stirlingshire & Clackmannanshire)

Full details

Making an impact

RSVP are active in their local communities. This includes Norfolk Knitters and Stitchers, with 132 groups of volunteers across the county, whose members knit and sew exclusively for charities and others in need of help.

To support their local community, the knitters created “warm bags” containing items including hot water bottles, blankets and knitted socks.

The first batch were snapped up within 90 minutes after being offered for free at a community centre. Since then, many more have been distributed through local charities and religious centres.

“[The bags are] so badly needed and I think it will only get worse in the winter.”

– Linda Brown, Volunteer and Organiser

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