NCVO have published a really useful and important article by Abigail Kay about why we should all do more to ensure that volunteering opportunities, in museums and elsewhere, are open to everyone.
When you ask most people whether disabled people should be given the same opportunities as non-disabled people, they’ll probably say yes. Sadly, disabled people are much less likely to volunteer, but we can take steps to improve the situation by pushing for government funding to improve accessibility for disabled volunteers, and promoting a code of good practice for working with disabled people.
Benefits of volunteering for disabled people
Volunteering can have significant benefits for the volunteer. Much debated among these is improved employability. Whilethe type of volunteering that people do is likely to reflect inherent social inequalities, and the evidence directly linking volunteering and employability is limited, it has been repeatedly demonstrated that volunteers can gain new skills, increased confidence, and general improvements in health, well-being and happiness. These things in themselves can put people in a better position to find employment.
For disabled people, who are already less strongly represented in the workplace and thus struggle more to develop the necessary skills for employment, volunteering roles often provide essential opportunities in a more person-centric environment. In the report evaluating the Access to Volunteering pilot fund, 30% of grant-receiving organisations identified increased confidence among the disabled volunteers, and 16% said that volunteering had allowed the disabled volunteers to enter employment.
The benefits of engaging disabled volunteers
By properly appreciating and harnessing the diversity, volunteer-involving organisations can help to improve understanding of accessibility issues for disabled people and break down false perceptions or stereotypes held in society. This in turn creates a more welcoming environment for volunteers identifying as disabled.
Involving disabled volunteers, as well as providing additional skills and new insights to the volunteer-involving organisations, strengthens inter- and intra-community relationships within the communities that they operate.
To read the rest of the article visit: http://blogs.ncvo.org.uk/2015/01/26/harnessing-disabled-peoples-ability-to-volunteer/