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Press release: for release 18th October 2001



Contact: Liz Victor:
Tel: 020 7450 0620 or

lizv@skill.org.uk


Disabled volunteers challenge stereotypes


Skill: National Bureau for Students with Disabilities is launching Into Volunteering: Positive Experiences of Disabled People today, 18th October 2001, at the House of Commons. Skill’s new publication aims to increase the number of disabled people volunteering throughout the UK by challenging the widespread images of disabled people as the passive recipients of volunteering. A recent survey found only 6% of volunteers declared a disability, as opposed to almost 20% of the UK population of working age.


Angela Eagle
, the Home Office Minister with responsibility for the voluntary sector, said:

"This booklet shows how the barriers that prevent disabled people from being involved can be broken down. Diversity is extremely important to the Government and a key challenge to the voluntary sector."


"A major disincentive for potential disabled volunteers is the lack of encouraging images,"
Barbara Waters, Skill’s Chief Executive, added. "Skill hopes that the experiences and comments of the volunteers featured in Into Volunteering will inspire others to have a go – and convince organisations of the valuable service that disabled volunteers can offer."


The involvement of disabled people as volunteers has been supported by the Disability Rights Commission’s recent statement: "To exclude disabled people from voluntary work is almost certainly illegal and definitely a barrier we would like to see lifted immediately."



Fiona Hewitt
, a visually impaired volunteer from Scotland, said, "Volunteering gives me a reason to go on." She spoke at the launch about her experiences helping others to master the internet and explained, "This is the first time I’ve ever volunteered. I’d been sent on tons of courses and eventually had a lot of knowledge, so I decided to pass it on. You can be a volunteer as well as a student."
To celebrate the UN International Year of Volunteers,Into Volunteering is available free to individual disabled people until 31st December 2001. The publication is priced at 6.50 for organisations. Contact Sue Beckford on 020 7450 0620 to order a copy.


Additional Information:


Review copies of Into Volunteering or photos (available in electronic format) to accompany articles are available by contacting Liz Victor on 020 7450 0620 or lizv@skill.org.uk.

Skill (National Bureau for Students with Disabilities) gives information and advice to thousands of disabled students every year on how to maximise their experiences in education (higher and further), volunteering, training, and employment.

The Skill information service is open from 1.30-4.30pm Monday to Friday on 0800 328 5050 (voice) or 0800 068 2422 (text). Extensive information is publicly available on Skill’s website:
www.skill.org.uk. Skill also advises government policy makers and disseminates good practice through publications, conferences and professional networks. Skill is a registered charity with offices in London, Belfast and Edinburgh.

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