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Things to do in retirement in your community

When you’ve got days to fill and are not sure how to fill them, retirement could feel a bit overwhelming. Project Dirt is a social network, set up specifically to help connect community and voluntary groups around the UK. It encourages people to get off their chairs and ‘get out there’.

The story of Project Dirt

Five years ago, I set a friend of mine a challenge. An enormous groundswell of activity was taking place in communities across the country, and yet it still felt very hidden and ‘under the radar’. The challenge was this: How can we make it easy – very easy – for people to find out about all the wonderful community projects being undertaken by those living around them in their own neighbourhoods?
The last five years have been a whirlwind.  We realised quickly that the internet provides enormous potential to allow people to collaborate. In addition to helping to promote activity locally, we have started to join the dots – to connect people doing similar things to each other in different parts of the country, so that they can share their experiences and be inspired by one another, rather than constantly having to ‘reinvent the wheel’. Given its origins in grassroots activity, we’ve called our growing platform Project Dirt.

Welcome to Project Dirt

Project Dirt is a social network, set up specifically with the aim of helping community and voluntary groups from around the UK. This acts as a ‘hub’, where everyone has a common interest; getting ‘stuck into’ local activity, helping to resource projects, learning new skills which would benefit their group and, most of all, meeting new people and having fun.
Groups join the platform and set up a ‘Project Page’ which explains a little about them and the great work they do, and people can join the group to receive regular updates.
Each project uploads blogs, events, news and pictures to the site to share with other members and many post free resources and best practice to help other community groups flourish.
Users are also able to search for things going on near them, for example searching ‘Allotment Surrey’ would bring up all the similar groups within that area.
We have hundreds of groups on the site, from community gardens and grassroots sports clubs to disability support groups. These groups, which may never have met before, are able to interact and share best practice, and instill a sense of community cohesion throughout the UK.
Skipton Building Society has its own Grassroots Giving cluster, with 76 community projects from all over the UK, who were all applicants or winners of the Grassroots Giving funding scheme.
Groups include Aberdeenshire South Foodbank, London Canal Volunteers and The Vale of York Barbershop Singers, all of whom are sharing event news, blog posts and pictures.


Retirees rule

Of course, the internet can never – and should never! – replace personal interaction. We believe in tangible activity, in real-world action and collaboration.
Through countless meetings, festivals and work days – I invariably come across people in retirement who are taking the lead in organising and getting involved.
Perhaps it’s because time allows and (although my recently retired parents tell me they are busier than they’ve ever been!). Or perhaps it’s because of a desire for new projects to help fill some of the gaps that leaving work has left. 
I understand that finding things to do in retirement isn’t always that easy and ‘working’ in retirement can help people feel fulfilled. 
Meeting great people, gaining a sense of achievement and giving back to communities are all reasons people cite for getting involved. People also seem to appreciate the opportunity to keep physically and mentally fit, which Project Dirt most definitely enables! 
For many, retirement means no longer being part of a company where colleagues become friends. Working with new people on community projects builds new relationships and friendships.
So, is there a local community activity that’s hiding its light under a bushel in your neighbourhood? Do you know what’s out there on your doorstep? It’s got to be worth a look!
It’d be great to hear of any projects you’re involved in, and tips for others looking to fill their time in retirement. What do you bring to the party? What do you get from being involved? Tell us below.
This article has been commissioned by retiresavvy and any opinions voiced are the author's own.


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