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Author fights for older volunteers in new book

AFROMEman has published ‘Baby Boomers and the Big Society’, looking at the role of older people as volunteers.

According to author Wally Harbert, the number of people who volunteer their time to help good causes is declining “because organisations that deploy them are too bossy and do not give them enough scope to use their initiative and talents.”

Wally, the former director of social services for the County of Avon, says that people born after the war, who are now retiring, want to be challenged and fulfilled by volunteering. Instead, they are too often offered repetitive work and carry little responsibility. He believes that volunteers are sometimes used as cheap labour.

This is the theme of his new book, ‘Baby Boomers and the Big Society.’ Although the book concentrates on the UK experience it resonates with changes in volunteering in other parts of the industrialised world

Wally Harbert says, “The Prime Minister, David Cameron is promoting the Big Society to encourage more people to take control of events in their communities but local residents are, too often, sidelined by organisations with their own agendas.”

He adds, “Volunteers are at the mercy of powerful organisations that are backed by government money and which fight to recruit and control them. Their voices are muffled by organisations benefitting from their activities that claim to speak on their behalf. Baby boomers, more than any previous generation, want opportunities for self expression and personal fulfillment. They are lost to volunteering if they do not find what they are looking for.”