Idea #4 - Recruit older people to volunteer for the community


By Miriam Shaviv
March 3, 2010
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During the month of March, I will be publishing a daily proposal to transform the British Jewish community. Email your own idea (up to 350 words) to miriamshaviv@thejc.com

Today's idea comes from Simon Morris: Recruit older people to volunteer for the community

Society is ageing and the Jewish community is ageing ahead of the national average, so what does this mean for our community in practical terms? It will mean more people becoming carers, greater need for home care and a more sophisticated set of services for people with dementia, another growing statistic.

But what else could it mean? It could mean an opportunity to see this ever-increasing group of people as an asset for the community, rather than a burden; as people who have much to offer, instead of something to take.

At Jewish Care, we know that when our services enable people to participate in and contribute to their communities, their self-esteem and their well-being is enhanced, and their physical and mental abilities protected. Nearly half of all those aged over 75 and over live alone today, so what better way to combat the isolation and disconnectedness of society today, than to include older people in providing what our community needs?

Utilising the natural assets we have in our community, harnessing the skills, knowledge and experience of people to support and connect with each other, even those deemed to be vulnerable, may be a tremendous challenge and will require creative thinking. But the potential impact would be worthy of the highest Jewish traditions we hold so dearly - Kol Yisrael Arevim Ze le Ze - All Jews are responsible for each other.

Dame Julia Neuberger’s report on the Future of Volunteering lays out a vision where volunteering becomes part of the DNA of our society. While our community sets the lead in volunteering, we often see it as an opportunity to give rather than as a mutual transaction.

So, in order for our community to truly benefit, we need to change the way we view older people, as well as the way we interact with them. If we succeed, so that helping others and benefiting from that mutual dependence becomes a way of life, I have no doubt that we will strengthen our community, in its richest sense, in a way that no other initiative can.

Simon Morris is Chief Executive of Jewish Care

Check out our previous ideas:

3 - Establish a fund for the Jewish arts

2 - Pay membership fees to your community, not your shul

1 - Make 2010/11 the year of synagogue renewal

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