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Life in retirement as a volunteer for the Resolution Team - A blog by Mike Maule

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I started volunteering first for the Occupational Pensions Advisory Service (OPAS) way back in the 1980s. OPAS morphed into The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) and then, as we know, became part of TPO. I am part of the Resolution Team now. 

I started volunteering as some colleagues suggested that it was a “good thing to have on your CV", so I signed up. Perhaps not the best of reasons, but honest! 

For most of my career I worked for Scottish Equitable in Edinburgh. Part of my role was dealing with chief executive complaints. That involved going out to meet complainants face to face.  

This role fitted quite neatly with the OPAS role and meant that I could bring my experience to both. It also strengthened my skills and knowledge and helped me lose the “silo mentality” that I think most of us develop unwittingly whilst working for one organisation. 

I later retired from AEGON in 2009 aged 57. I continued with TPAS, and for a while volunteered on the helpline at Scottish Equitable. That was very interesting and made me realise my pensions knowledge was not as good as I thought it was, especially concerning State Pensions and interlinked welfare benefits. I suspect that this applies to many others as well. My time there was a sharp learning curve for me certainly. 

I also qualified as a black cab driver in Edinburgh. What relevance is that? Well, I drove part-time for 12 years. You’d be amazed at how often when I mentioned that I had worked in pensions, instead of being a conversation stopper, all manner of pensions questions were thrown at me. Again, it made me realise just how important pensions are to people from all walks of life and how little knowledge people actually have. I never gave advice of course!  

I’m coming up to 71 now. After being super fit for most of my life my health has taken a bit of a battering over the last 3 years and I’ve ended up housebound, albeit for short periods of time. During those periods TPO work has been a godsend. It’s given me a purpose, enabled me to engage my brain, and most important of all, I have been able to help people to resolve their pensions complaints. 

It still gives me an immense feeling of satisfaction to receive feedback from those whom I endeavour to help. Even those whose complaints are not upheld are invariably grateful for the help our team offer. If you do decide to join then take it from me, you will never regret it. 

If you're interested in joining us as a Volunteer Adviser, visit our jobs and volunteering page for more information.

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