Abstracts: January 12th, 2012

The report demonstrates that older people are already a fundamental part of the government’s Big Society vision and considers how their level of engagement can be maintained and increased. The report was produced by Res Publica in conjunction with Independent Age.

It sets out a raft of policies aimed at breaking down barriers that hamper greater community participation from older people. And it calls on organisations to end the discrimination faced by older people, who are often written off when they hit certain arbitrary age points.

The author defends the concept of the Big Society, believing the policy has focused attention on the importance of individual and community action in society, but says that the Government must recognise the valuable contribution of older people, and encourage them to do even more.

Older people already make a positive and wholly disproportionate contribution to our society by volunteering, charitable giving and helping to maintain the values and principles underpinning our civic society. In the future they can do more to significantly boost participation and volunteering, providing the time and experience to transform our civic culture.

The report also says that the Government has a once in a lifetime opportunity to get the policy right and reach out to the baby boomer generation. It highlights four schemes that draw on social capital to provide care services in Japan and in the UK, car rides in the US for older people and adult education in Europe, which it believes provide examples of “best practice” and logical extensions of traditional volunteering models.

The report is available from Res Publica.