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Press release: for release 21st June 2001



Contact: Liz Victor:
Tel: 020 7450 0620 or

lizv@skill.org.uk


Disabled volunteers turn the tables

Disabled people are often portrayed as the passive recipients of volunteering. These images are challenged by Skill’s latest publication, 'Into Volunteering: Positive Experiences of Disabled People', available from 20th June. Funded by the Active Community Unit at the Home Office, the booklet hopes to increase the number of disabled people actively involved as volunteers. A survey last year (1) found only 6% of volunteers declared a disability, as opposed to almost 20% of the population (2).


"It’s a practical guide that provides disabled people with advice on how to get started as a volunteer," says Barbara Waters, Skill’s Chief Executive. "It contains useful suggestions and contacts, and stories from disabled volunteers describing their experiences. As well as appealing to people who’ve never thought about volunteering before, it will encourage those already involved, and provide examples of good practice for other organisations to follow."
The volunteers featured are involved in activities ranging from Brownies and gardening, to marine biology and teaching…in Thailand! Whatever they’ve been doing, the volunteers’ motivation to help others shines through loud and clear.


- Fiona had her first taste of computers when her eyesight worsened, and now uses a speech reader and keyboard shortcuts to help her communicate by email. She explains, "I went on tons of courses and eventually I had an awful lot of knowledge, so I thought why not become a volunteer to pass on what I’ve learnt to other visually impaired people."

- Kevin is helping to improve the garden at his local hospital, by making windchimes and hanging baskets. He goes once a week with his support worker and told us "I wanted something to do and it feels brilliant to be doing something useful. I have got to meet new people and make friends. If somebody needs me – I like to help."


Of course, not all stories of disabled volunteers are equally positive. Some disabled people still encounter barriers to their involvement. However by promoting images of successful disabled volunteers, 'Into Volunteering' hopes to encourage more instances of role reversal, as disabled people use their many skills and talents to help others.
To celebrate the 'UN International Year of Volunteers', 'Into Volunteering' is available free to individual disabled people until 31st December 2001. Contact Sue Beckford on 020 7450 0620 to order a copy.


Contact: Liz Victor (020 7450 0620 or
lizv@skill.org.uk

References: Disability Need be no Handicap, CSV Retired and Senior Volunteers Project, 2000 DRC Disability Briefing May 2000, based on Labour Force Survey Winter 1999/2000

Additional Information:

Review copies of Into Volunteering: Positive Experiences of Disabled People are available by contacting Sue Beckford on 020 7450 0620. Photos to accompany articles are available by contacting Liz Victor on 020 7450 0620 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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