Retirement should be a landmark moment in all of our lives. And it should be a cause of celebration where we look forward to extra leisure time or moments with friends and family. So it is alarming that new research - commissioned by Beanstalk - shows that the vast majority of people are worried about retirement.
Shockingly, more than a fifth of those nearing retirement said they're worried about not having enough to do when they stop working, while one in four say they'll miss colleagues and worry about not having opportunities to interact with other people. It goes without saying that this shouldn't be the case. Retirement should provide us all with the same sense of activity and camaraderie as work - but with more fun!
As CEO of Beanstalk, a children's literacy charity that recruits and trains volunteers to give reading support to struggling children, I'm proud of the opportunity that we provide to so many people who are retired or nearing retirement - turning retirement into the start of a new chapter in their life.
Many of our reading helpers join us after retiring and the time they spend helping children learn to read is a perfect antidote to many of the concerns people have about retirement. It makes them feel valued, introduces them to new people and new challenges, and is a fantastic way to use the skills they've developed in their careers. Their contribution is vital - without them, these children would still be struggling to read, and facing all the problems associated with low literacy levels.
When I'm out and about across the country, chatting to our volunteers about why they became a Beanstalk reading helper, two of things that always crop up in conversation are how it allows them to meet new people and use their time to have a positive impact. This is something that was put perfectly by Stephanie, one of our volunteers in Liverpool:
"I was worried about missing the routine of work and the support of my colleagues, and a move to a new area really compounded that. I knew I needed something meaningful to get involved in and a way of meeting new people. I heard about Beanstalk from a friend and with a lifelong love of reading, becoming a reading helper seemed like the ideal fit. One boy I support has made huge progress, and now tells me he "loves" reading and has started to read at home. Helping to convert non-readers into self-proclaimed book fans is one of the best feelings in the world."
Making sure that retirement is as positive for everyone as it is for Stephanie is something that we must all work towards - after all we'll all reach it eventually! So I'm proud of the opportunity that we at Beanstalk provide to so many people: helping them stay active, pass on their experience, and start a new chapter in both their own life and that of a child.
For more information on Beanstalk or to become a Beanstalk reading helper visit www.beanstalkcharity.org.uk or call 020 7729 4087.