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Sue Bott highlights problems for disabled volunteers

14 August 2013

Past projects by Radar (now part of Disability Rights UK) and Community Service Volunteers found evidence that, often, people with disabilities face difficulty in finding volunteering roles

Earlier this year we ran four seminars across England, where we interviewed disabled people to find out what barriers were stopping them from volunteering. When interviewed by the Guardian Sue Bott, director of policy and development at Disability Rights UK, says that some who attended the sessions had been waiting for up to four years for a chance to volunteer.

"One of the main barriers is the attitude of organisations in the voluntary sector," she says. "There are a lot of assumptions about disabled people. Rather than thinking about what they can offer, organisations tend to imagine some of the perceived problems having disabled volunteers will cause them."

But why is it important that charities ensure their volunteering is open to all, whether that be people with disabilities, people who are particularly young or old, or prisoners? And for charities that do want to make their volunteering more accessible, what types of considerations will they need to make?

Sue also said that charities should be building access costs for all types of volunteers into their budgets for projects as standard, whereas often many charities were reluctant to even pay expenses.

"We found that more and more voluntary organisations won't pay volunteer expenses," she says. "That will discriminate against anyone who cannot cover their own costs, and many disabled people won't be able to do that."

You can view the full guardian article at http://www.theguardian.com/voluntary-sector-network/2013/aug/14/disabilities-difficult-volunteering-roles

Note: Young Disabled Leaders was a one-year project to March 31st 2011 on which CSV worked alongside RADAR (now part of Disability Rights UK), with support from the Young Foundation to help give young disabled people greater confidence and encouragement to take up leadership roles.

The report, Young Disabled Leaders: Engaging The Power House, describes how the project came about; what it did; and offers some guidance to organisations for future youth engagement and volunteering by disabled people