The Importance of Volunteering — Scope | Disability forum
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The Importance of Volunteering

hollytuke Community member Posts: 14 Courageous
There’s no denying that having a disability can make it harder to find employment, employers often have outdated attitudes on disability, and disabled people regularly come across jobs that aren’t accessible, meaning that we face added barriers. There is also the question of whether you disclose your disability when applying for jobs or not, research by Scope found that 1 in 5 hide their disability from employers.

But it is not all doom and gloom, there are many employers that are supportive and that want to employ disabled people.
When I graduated University in 2017 and started the long and difficult task of finding a job, I came across jobs that weren’t accessible for me as a blind person, I had several interviews and didn’t have any luck. I did often wonder whether my disability was a barrier, but we’ll never know. Now I am in a job that I absolutely love, and my employer is very understanding about my disability, they fully support me and ensure that things are made accessible for me.

four people with arms around eachother wearing tshirts that say volunteer on the front
However, when I was at school, all of my peers had jobs, they were working in shops, cafes and restaurants but these were things that I could never do as I have no useful vision. So, I took up volunteering and let me tell you, it is one of the best things that I ever did, it also looks great on your CV!

I don’t think I would have even been considered for the jobs that I have applied for if it wasn’t for my qualifications and the skills that volunteering equip me with. If you have carried out volunteering and demonstrate this to employers, it shows many assets that they are often looking for. Despite being in employment now, volunteering is something that I still carry out.
Many people have the wrongly perceived idea that volunteering isn’t rewarding because it is unpaid, but it is the exact opposite, volunteering is so rewarding.
But why is volunteering so important?
Many charities rely on volunteers to run their services, including well-known UK charities such as Scope.
I started volunteering for charities when I was a teenager and have volunteered with charities that are very close to my heart including the RNIB, my local society for the blind and writing blog posts for Scope.

Not only are you helping the charity or organisation maintain its services, you are also getting something back for yourself. Without volunteers, charities and organisations cannot offer the services that they want to.
When I was younger, I used to be frustrated that I couldn’t do the usual weekend jobs like my friends, but I did volunteering instead and that has given me so much valuable experience.
Volunteering can enrich your life.
Volunteering can enrich your life in so many ways, it gives you experiences, as well as gaining knowledge about a charity or organisation. You can then take those experiences with you in to future roles.
You can gain connections
These may be both personal and professional, volunteering is a great way of meeting new people.
You may be able to make professional connections that help you get onto the career ladder, or you may make some life-long friendships.
It can enhance your skills
By doing volunteering, you can learn new skills and enhance existing skills such as communication, teamwork, confidence and organisation. By learning new skills and enhancing existing skills means that you can transfer them into a future career. It also can be very rewarding.
You gain a sense of satisfaction
Whether you’re helping someone in your local community, volunteering with an organisation or helping with a local project, volunteering gives you a sense of satisfaction and an achievement. Helping others is rewarding for both parties.
You often get the chance to help others
Helping others is truly a great feeling so why not do something that is great for yourself and that is appreciated by someone else as well? Knowing that you have helped someone makes you feel good about yourself.
Volunteering can help your mental health
Being out and about in your local community or in an office setting can make you feel a lot better. Also, the previous points can also help your mental health as well.
Those are some of the reasons why volunteering is so important. So why not get out there and start volunteering? You never know, it may lead to future opportunities!

Do you volunteer? How has volunteering helped you?
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  • CaderMac
    CaderMac Community member Posts: 105 Pioneering
    Great post Holly, volunteering is really important for organisations and for the volunteers themselves! I couldn't agree more with all your reasons why volunteering is worth your time. 
    When I've had a busy and stressful time at work I really look forward to my volunteering as 'my time' and I have gained so much from it. It is hugely rewarding. 
  • debbiedo49
    debbiedo49 Community member Posts: 2,904 Disability Gamechanger
    Finding the right volunteering opportunity for you is a good way to try out something different. Or you can provide skills you already have for free to help people who need the skills. If you look up a volunteering website you will see the variety of opportunities available doing things you might not have thought of. For me I tried volunteering for a variety of reasons. One, being long term unemployed with m h problems I had no self confidence and felt I wasn’t contributing to society. So volunteering changed that as it helped build my self confidence and helped me feel valued. Two, I had an idea that I might like to work in a certain type of work with children but I didn’t know if I would have the right skills or if I would enjoy it as a job. So with volunteering I found out I did have the skillls and that I did enjoy the work and that you can learn or relearn a different set of skills. Three, I found that I was in the driving seat in terms of how I carried out the volunteering which was really important for me due to my mental and physical health issues. I could choose what when and where. Once I did that I benefitted from a regular activity like a job but given freely. I didn’t realise how good it felt to give freely and get lots back in return. It gave me a buzz and helped me to decide that this was the way I wanted to go in terms of a job. Four, it gave me the experience to put this on my c v to make me more attractive to employers and fill out the gaps there. Five, it inspired me to take on relevant online study to give me more knowledge and confidence in that area. Six, I got referees for jobs from volunteering. The list goes on. 
  • Geoark
    Geoark Community member Posts: 1,455 Disability Gamechanger
    I have volunteered on and off since my teens. So when I had to pack up work due to severe back pain considering volunteering was not a huge leap. I knew it would be unlikely I would return to the type of paid work I had always depended on and I needed to stay focused on remaining positive that I would eventually return to work.

    Volunteering also helped me to decide which type of jobs I was probably not suited for. I had a one day trial with a homeless charity in one of their homeless units as a receptionist, by the end of the morning I knew it was not right for me. Not a failure, it saved me a lot of wasted time looking for positions I would not be happy in.

    Volunteering did get me an interview, but also played a huge part in stopping me getting the job. It was with a housing association doing admin work in the repairs department. My voluntary work was Chair for a non profit housing organisation, the manager was quite open that he felt I would be quickly unsatisfied in the post considering the amount and variety of tasks I was doing in my voluntary role. Admittedly it did frustrate me at the time, but I have since gone on to much better things.

    With the lack of support for those who are unemployed, especially when the need is there to change track in the type of employment you can do volunteering helped to hone skills I already had, as well as learning new ones, gaining qualifications and experience that meant I was able eventually to return to work.

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • hollytuke
    hollytuke Community member Posts: 14 Courageous

    derMac , I completely agree with you! It's really rewarding :)
  • annewilko
    annewilko Community member Posts: 3 Listener
    I started as a volunteer working in a youth & community work setting. I'd just had my daughter and wanted to find something different from my previous employment. 27 years on, I'm not fit to continue with that type of employment now. I did however move from volunteering, to pt paid work, doing an access course, that led to a degree and full time employment. 
    I feel I can still offer my knowledge, skills and experience but not in a busy youth work environment. Plus, places I have looked at require a weekly commitment. I'm not able to offer that now. 
    I have just read another post about online volunteering and I hadn't known of that until today. 
    I'm definitely going to research that possibility. 
  • ulrichburke
    ulrichburke Community member Posts: 30 Courageous
    Dear All.

    Question for all of you, from the heart.  

    You all talk about 'taking up volunteering' and 'deciding to do volunteering' as if you just go along, offer to volunteer and get welcomed with open arms, disabled or not.  Now I've been volunteering for 20 years for everything in sight that I feel I can do - which is exactly as long as I've been being turned down by the charities for which I've volunteered.  I mean, I must - in all seriousness - have volunteered for a couple of hundred positions, if not many more, in all that time - and they always have reasons NOT to use me.  

    How the bejeezus are you all getting past that one? What is it you're doing that's making these places go 'Sure, we'll give you a shot!', then the next place you go to uses the last place as a reference and THEY go 'Sure, we'll give you a shot...'  

    How in all that's holy do you get the first place to give you a chance? What is it you're all doing that I'm not? I mean I've run out of charities to volunteer for around here because I've been turned down by them all. If I go to supported employment I'll lose all my PIP, won't I, because they'll say I'm looking for work.  (Got the T-shirt on that one!!) And if I find another place to volunteer for, they ask me why I've got no references (I flat don't have any) and why I've got no record of volunteering (because none of the able-bodied idiots give me a chance, so I can't GET any!!) 

    For sure I'd love to volunteer. I DO volunteer, all the time. I just get turned down all the time. How do I get these able-bodied idiots to GIVE me a shot!?! Correction. How are YOU getting these able-bodied idiots to give you a shot? What are you-all doing that I'm not? You suggest, I'll try! And yes I have tried the local Scope shops. Been turned down by them, too (lack of references.) There's a big Scope charity centre not too far from me.  Tried there. 'We'll Let you Know, Dear.' I get that one a LOT!  Tried Possability People (who were the Brighton Fed. for the Disabled.) They're 'We'll Let You know, Dear' with a caveat - they've got benefit 'helpers'. I'm a tad worried by those - they SAY they're on your side but how worried do I have to be that they're going to go straight back to PIP, say 'This guy's doing voluntary work' and I'll find I've lost all my benefits.  

    I'm more than happy to discuss what I can do and DO it, if people don't boot me the first time I make a mistake (Iack of experience but I've got the knowledge) rat on me to PIP or trumpet my mistakes to all and sundry and 'forget' about the things I've gotten RIGHT!! 

    You tell me how you got your foot in the door and I'll give what you say a shot.  Deal?

    Yours respectfully

  • ulrichburke
    ulrichburke Community member Posts: 30 Courageous
    Sorry - that '20' years, counting it up, should be 'nearer 30 years!!!'   

  • Deb_Alumni
    Deb_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 180 Pioneering
    @ulrichburke did you email @Sam_Scope about finding out about volunteering on our community?  Sam did send you a link on 11th December to make contact?
    Online Community Manager
  • Sam_Alumni
    Sam_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,671 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @ulrichburke I have said a couple of times that I’d be happy to talk you through our
    community champion role. You just have to email me on [email protected]
    Senior online community officer
  • mrripple30
    mrripple30 Community member Posts: 3 Listener
    I started volunteering for my local Hospital car service and in the local office of the Alzheimer’s society. It was after the firm I worked for, for thirty one years went into liquidation. The car service would call me once or twice a Month to see if I was available to take someone to one of the five or six Hospitals in the area I used to sit and have a coffee and take them home after their appointment, The organiser charged the client a small fee and paid me for my Petrol. My car was supplied by Motability so I had to check with them to make sure the insurance etc was ok. At the Alzheimer’s i worked in their office for around four hours on one day a week answering the phone doing photocopying and other office tasks. Enjoyed it there and it made me realise how lucky I am.
  • April2018mom
    April2018mom Posts: 2,870 Disability Gamechanger
    I agree. I volunteer in a office. It allows me to take a break. I learned new skills as well. Did you find anything @hollytuke


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