Tips for volunteering as a disabled person
This week, 1st-7th June, is Volunteers' Week. To say thank you to all of our amazing community champions, we are hearing from @emmarenshaw who is sharing her experiences and top tips. The online community would be a very different place without a team of volunteers who work hard to support other disabled people.
name is Emma and I’m 27-years-old. I have Cerebral Palsy (CP) and I’m a
wheelchair user. I also am a member of the Board of Directors for a charity and
volunteer for Scope as an Online Community Champion. I’m passionate about accessibility,
equality and books.
I wanted to write about volunteering because it has been such a huge part of my life and I have volunteered in many different ways. However, inaccessibility, managing energy levels and a lack of volunteering opportunities has caused many barriers.
Here are a few vital tips to help combat them:
Accessibility is Key
It is vital for me that I volunteer somewhere that is accessible. Despite the majority of my voluntary experiences been suitable, I have had an experience where the role has been in an inaccessible building. There was a compromise within the role, but this is why accessibility is crucial for me. I deserve to have the full experience without having to adapt or worry.
Ask for Help
I know it is daunting, but if you need help then please ask. In the past I have gone along with the odd tricky situation, when in hindsight I shouldn’t of. It saves me so much time and energy when someone can assist and advise me. Asking for help means you can do the role better.
Taking breaks when you need to or asking if you can change your hours when energy levels are low is okay! Self-care is important for me, especially at the end of long days. My CP means I use up more energy doing tasks so I like to relax by reading and listening to music. By doing this, it means you can recuperate.
Remote volunteering on Scope’s Online Community has been brilliant for me. It means I can do everything from the comfort of my computer or tablet, with it all being home-based. I really hope to see more remote opportunities in the future as they make such a difference.
This is something I have worked on over time. I know not everything will be suitable and I won’t be right for every role, but I am not afraid to ask. This allows you to find out what might be available.
Always Have an Adviser
I’ve found it helpful for me to have someone I can go to if I have questions. This means that advice or assistance is available when needed. Even if it is only to help here and there, it makes it so much easier overall.
Volunteering certainly hasn’t been without its obstacles and there’s still a long way to go in terms of accessibility. Yet I look forward to the day when accessible volunteering is the norm and not a rarity.
What ways do you like to volunteer? Do you have any accessible tools or advice that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below!