women in a typing pool

Beyond typing pools and tea trollies

By Commission on the Voluntary Sector & Ageing 24 February 2014

Here at the Commission on the Voluntary Sector & Ageing we’re spending our time projecting into the future, so last month we were fortunate to join the futurologist Wendy Schultz and a room full of voluntary sector leaders to contemplate the world in 2034.

We reflected on the past and the huge changes society and the sector has already seen over the last few decades—from the end of tea trollies and typing pools, to Cathy Comes Home and the birth of campaigning organisations such as Shelter, mobile phones, the internet and the demise of grants. We discussed seismic transformations  that don’t just change society, but  also our daily habits, rendering our assumptions obsolete.

Coincidentally enough, Time Out  magazine recently looked to the future of London; robot cabs, floating islands and a semi-tropical climate were among their predictions. But the sector will face equally big challenges—and how it responds now, will be key in ensuring a vibrant, thriving sector that can sustain itself into the future. At our workshop, we talked about whether the sector will even be needed in this brave new world, how it will have to change to adapt, and what will it need to do to ensure it’s still relevant.

Will it have morphed into a hub for the community? A convener, rather than a deliverer, for instance? How will the sector need to respond to be able to utilise the valuable asset of a generation of the healthiest, most educated older people we’ve ever seen?

We’re thinking hard about these issues already. Our Commissioners have contributed their thoughts in articles and blogs, and we’ve been out and about attending events, meeting with those who share our interests and concerns, and really delving deep into the issues around our changing population and what is could mean for the voluntary sector in the next ten and twenty years.

And you’ll hear more from us over the next few months as we publish our research and some scenarios based on this projection. Come and hear our thoughts so far at a breakfast event on 1 April, or get in touch via our website or on Twitter to tell us what you think and how your organisation is responding to the changes in our population—we’d love to hear from you.