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Tips for volunteering as a disabled person

emmarenshawemmarenshaw Member Posts: 712 Pioneering
edited June 2020 in Guest blogs

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.

Hello, my 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.

A black background with white lights which says do something great

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.

Pace Yourself

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

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.

Enquire More

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.

If you would like to follow Emma, she blogs at Emma’s Corner and can be found on Twitter @renshaw_emma.

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!


  • RonniRonni Member Posts: 162 Pioneering
    I was a community volunteer from age of 15 till I 21 was losing my hearing.. it became impossible. I volunteered for save the children fund children's, working disabled and the elderly. The Oxfam my hearing was so bad they wernt helpful  I stop volunteer back then. Was 80s 90s. Alot off community charity have gone. Alot of play schemesxmas meals for the elderly a d disabled have all gone in my area. i now multiple disabilities. I like the sound of remote volunteering.  Need to update my IT skills though.
  • AilsAils Member Posts: 2,268 Disability Gamechanger
    This is a great post and really helpful, @emmarenshaw so thanks for sharing with us.  Some great tips here!  For several years I volunteered as a Brownie Leader which I loved and still miss at times.  I have also been a Young Person's Befriender for a mental health charity when I was at uni and I loved that too!  It sounds as though you have had a varied voluntary career too and great to know that volunteering here for Scope remotely helps you so much.  I too really enjoy it and find it fits with my health and lifestyle now.  I like the fact you have explained about the barriers to volunteering and disability here and ways to overcome this.  This will be really insightful to members considering volunteering.  :smiley:
    Winner of the Scope New Volunteer Award 2019.   :)
  • emmarenshawemmarenshaw Member Posts: 712 Pioneering
    I think you’ll be great @Ronni it sounds like you’ve made a fantastic contribution already. 
  • emmarenshawemmarenshaw Member Posts: 712 Pioneering
  • woodbinewoodbine Community Co-Production Group Posts: 4,446 Disability Gamechanger
    I was a volunteer moderator on AOL message boards/chat forums back in the early days, and more recently a board guide on MSE, both of which were interesting and I could do when I felt well enough and not do if I wasn't feeling to great.
    "Putting a child into care, isn't caring for a child" (T.Rhattigan)
  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,653 Disability Gamechanger
    Thank you for a great piece @emmarenshaw

  • emmarenshawemmarenshaw Member Posts: 712 Pioneering
    Thank you so much for the opportunity @Chloe_Scope
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