By Rhoda Otite
Support into volunteering
If you can't find what you are looking for on the do-it website, or if you have questions about volunteering it's well worth trying your local Volunteer Centre.
Many run supported volunteer programmes, which are designed to help support disabled people into volunteering. Staff can help you choose the right placement some will even attend interviews with you.
Most Centres tend to work closely with the volunteering placement so you won't be left on your own.
Disclosing your disability
It's up to you whether you want to disclose your disability or not. But by telling the organisation it gives them an opportunity to look at ways to support you to carry out your volunteering role more confidently and safely.
Disclosing your disability is also a great way to help raise the organisations awareness and understanding of how to involve disabled people as volunteers.
Whether you are on Job Seekers Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, or Incapacity Benefit, you can still volunteer, so long as you do not receive any payment other than your out-of-pocket expenses.
If in doubt, check with a disability advisor at the Job Centre Plus where you receive your benefits.
Volunteering can be a great pathway into employment, so it is important to think about your career goals when choosing your volunteering placement.
If you're still stuck as to what you want to do career-wise, Skill has produced a series of booklets of positive experiences of disabled people working in the arts and professions such as teaching and law.
The 'Into' factsheets for disabled people and can be downloaded from the Skill website.
Making the right choice
Not all disabled people want to volunteer with a disability organisation. Remember your skills and experience can be just as valuable to a non-disability organisation. The first step is to decide what you want to do and then approach the appropriate organization.
If you can't find them on do-it, try your Volunteer Centre/Bureau, or careers service.
Don ' t let your disability limit your choices. If you ' re still not sure about whether volunteering is for you visit Skill's volunteering website.
Disabled volunteers have their say
"Nobody thought I could take on any responsibility because of my sight loss but I've proved them all wrong."
Volunteer Transport Booking Officer
"It feels really good to share your skills with others and to hear when they have cause to use the knowledge that you have given them."
Volunteer First Aid Trainer
"Having to stop working two and half years ago because of my illness was really difficult for me. I loved working and had worked very hard at not to have to give up - working part-time and then as a temp. As a volunteer I feel as if I am working again! Volunteer Tutor My life has progressed in a way that 3 years ago I would have never thought possible. I don ' t think it ' s an exaggeration to say that without the volunteering I might not even be here today."
"Being on the management team has given me so much confidence. I am now able to speak up for myself!"
Volunteer Committee Member
Rhoda Otite is Skill Volunteer Policy Officer. Skill: National Bureau for Students with Disabilities is a UK national charity promoting opportunities in post-16 education, work-based learning, volunteering and transition to employment.
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