Volunteering as a Disabled Person
Volunteering offers a host of advantages from the chance to learn new skills to the opportunity to meet new people. It can even kickstart a whole new career. There are a host of available volunteer roles and there should be no reason why your options as a disabled person should be restricted. Depending on your impairment there may be some positions which it is not possible to fill but by and large you should find many opportunities open to you.
Start by getting in touch with organisations that interest you to find out if they have current volunteering vacancies available. You may want to draw up a CV or list of your skills and experience which you can show to prospective volunteering organisations. This will help you to establish your interest and help an organisation get a better idea of who you are. Hopefully you will find a match between your background and interests and the current needs of the organisation.
What Options Are Available to the Disabled?There is a wide range of volunteering options available and you can find out details from your local library or council. You may be interested in taking on a peer support role, that is in volunteering for an organisation which works with people with the same impairment as you. There may even be campaigning or fundraising organisations where you can play a valued role. This could be in a wide range of areas from befriending to marketing and fundraising. Not only will your personal experience of the impairment be invaluable here you will also be guaranteed a supportive volunteering environment.
Meet the OrganiserYou may wish to volunteer in a completely different area altogether. The next step is to go along to meet the organiser and to get a feel for what the role entails.
It is at this point when you can find out how geared up the organisation is to support you as a disabled volunteer. They are required by law to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to ensure that the environment is adapted to enable you to carry out your role in the same as other volunteers. For example you may require memos or other written material to be produced in large print or in Braille or you may require a desk with an adjustable height to accommodate the height which your wheelchair sits at. You may also want to check that there are suitable facilities within the building for you so that it is fully accessible.
Take the time to raise your requirements and any queries you may have at this point. You should find that the organisation is keen to accommodate your needs as much as they possibly can.
If you are on benefits it is always worth discussing it with your benefits adviser before you begin volunteering. If you receive Disability Living Allowance you may also be able to receive an allowance from the organisation you are volunteering with without this affecting your benefits.
Volunteering can offer lots of personal rewards and fulfillment. Hopefully you can find a suitable volunteering position which brings you both.