Focus: People Management - Guide launched to fight discrimination

Graham Willgoss, graham.willgoss@haynet.com

Can Do! Volunteering advises charities how to involve young disabled people.

Scope and Leonard Cheshire have launched a guide designed to help volunteer managers make their volunteering opportunities more accessible to young disabled people.

Can Do! Volunteering has been produced in conjunction with groups of disabled volunteers, following research by Scope. Its report found that one in three disabled people had been discouraged from volunteering because of their impairment.

The guide includes advice on ways to involve and recruit young disabled volunteers more effectively and where and how to find funding for volunteering programmes. It includes case studies on successful projects.Funded with a grant from the Russell Commission, it is available online, on CD and as a booklet.

"Despite having a lot to offer, young disabled people are under-represented within volunteering," said Danielle Moore, youth volunteering officer at Scope. "We hope to provide realistic, practical advice to volunteer managers so they can address this."

Scope's research found that discrimination, a lack of financial support and poor accessibility are among the barriers faced by disabled people wanting to volunteer. The charity set up focus groups of young disabled people across England, which reported back to Scope and Leonard Cheshire to discuss reasonable adjustments charities can make to support disabled volunteering.

"We wanted to keep the guide plain and simple, in line with what we advise people to do with their own programmes, and to make it more accessible," said Moore.

"We hope it will create awareness of young disabled volunteers and draw attention to the fact that charities are missing out on this target group and the skills they have to offer."

Leonard Cheshire has also launched an internal volunteer training DVD for staff to make sure volunteers feel motivated and appreciated in the workplace.

The 11-minute film will be shown to staff in induction programmes and to the charity's existing employees.

Stephanie Fishlock, volunteering projects officer at Leonard Cheshire, said the DVD is part of the charity's more professional approach to volunteering.

"Our volunteer support team has been in place for only three years, and we see it as an investment in our volunteer support structure," she said.

"We get lots of staff in the organisation who haven't worked in a charity before. We just wanted to give them an introduction to something that is integral to Leonard Cheshire."

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