Baroness Julia Neuberger DBE, the UK’s Voice for Volunteers, understands volunteers as a powerful social movement and the impact they can have in ageing services as well as in society in general. She herself is a Liberal Democrat, social reformer, ordained rabbi and a member of the House of Lords; she was recently appointed by PM Gordon Brown as the UK’s Volunteer Champion.

I had the honor of meeting Lady Neuberger at the Annual Dinner of the National Care Forum in London last week. She is a dynamic spokesperson and exudes energy and enthusiasm for her role as Volunteer Champion. As such she hopes to help develop a much more actively involved society.

As she noted in an interview with the Guardian, ‘Volunteers are not there to take away people’s jobs. This is about additionality. Professionals hate hearing this, but volunteers can do things professionals can’t.” She believes that volunteers can enhance the life of the elderly by adding another kind of human touch and contact. And volunteers have an important role in linking the community to the resident and the staff that is difficult to maintain otherwise.

Lady Neuberger’s next book Not Dead Yet: Manifesto for Old Agewill be published in 2008. I can’t wait.

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