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Skill promotes opportunities to empower young people and adults with any kind of disability to realise their potential in further, continuing and higher education, training and employment throughout the United Kingdom.

We work by providing information and advice to individuals, promoting good practice and influencing policy in partnership with disabled people, service providers and policy makers.

Raising awareness about the benefits disabled volunteers with disabilities bring to the workplace is another one of our key functions.

Whether you're a seasoned volunteer or fresher - or an organisation working with disabled volunteers or not - we hope you will find our web pages informative, interesting and most of all fun!

Read about Skills Volunteering Project

Volunteering opportunities with RNIB
RNIB has launched a new volunteer section of their website. Check the link for volunteering opportunities around the UK with RNIB.

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Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust


    Front row Peter, Pablo, Tim; back row Jackie and Jason

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust boasts over 2,000 active volunteers across five hospital sites, 60 of who have a disability.

Disabled volunteers Peter, Pablo, Jason and Tim have served over 10 years between them. Volunteer Services Manager, Jackie Knowles is responsible for the strategic development of volunteering.

Her role includes trying to convince wards and department managers of the benefits and of taking on a volunteer, something she has mastered with some success.

She explains how. Read or listen.

Pablo Mortby - “The health service works for all sorts of people with different abilities and disabilities”

Pablo was encouraged to join the volunteering team two years ago by a disabled friend who was also a volunteer at the hospital. Find out what he gets up to as a volunteer. Read or listen.

Jason Chadburn - “Since I’ve been here it [Sheffield Great Northern Hospital] has improved a lot with better sign posting and for people to read like myself.”

Jason has been a volunteer at the trust for 4 years. He started out as a Hospital Welcomer, before helping to set a newsletter for disabled volunteers. Read or listen

Peter Watling - "I actually treat volunteering like therapy. The hospital is a safe environment for me.”

Three years ago Peter Watling suffered a stroke and spent fourteen weeks on a hospital ward.

A keen sportsman he was unable to play his beloved golf as actively as he once did or would have liked.

As well as developing an interest in computers, he has also fallen for volunteering in a big way too! Read more.

One-to-One Enfield - fully inclusive!

One-to-One Enfield was set up 12 years ago to support people who would normally be excluded from their communities into mainstream society.

Through its Community Inclusion Project it builds relationships between people from different backgrounds together.

 Andrew Wilson

Andrew Wilson “We are very much an organisation that works with people with learning disabilities,” explains Andrew Wilson, the projects Volunteer Co-ordinator. “But the ethos of the organisation is to treat everyone as equal”

Andrew’s role is to train and support volunteers so that they can fulfil the many volunteering opportunities involved at the organisation.

He currently works with a group of over 45 volunteers who carry out a range of roles from assisting in arts and crafts sessions to getting involved in the various committee meetings.

Before starting their placements all volunteers must attend a training course designed to help them get a better understanding of their role as a volunteer.

Andrew explains the approach to the sessions - listen

Committed volunteers- Bill and Sheila Barry.

 Sheila and Bill

Sheila and Bill Sheila and Bill Barry have been married for 12 years and began volunteering with Enfield 1-2-1 over six years ago. Bill sits on the fundraising committee that makes decisions on ways of raising funds for the organisation.

Sheila began as an advisor on the management committee and has since been voted in as a director. Read or listen to Bill and Sheila’s very first volunteering assignment.

Working with Words - empowering lives!

Everyday events such as attending meetings at the benefits office or a visit to the doctor’s surgery can often be quite a daunting experience for people with learning difficulties.

Working with Words, a small company based in Greenwich helps individuals to take control of these situations by using picture and video images to make information more accessible.

As well as providing work experience placements, the organisation also has a trusted team of volunteers.

Denise Brown - From pen and paper to computers!

 Denise at Computer

Denise at computer After a spell in hospital Denise Brown, 52, was encouraged to take up volunteering by her support worker.

“I’d always wanted to work with computers and develop my typing skills,” she says.

“I’d never used computers before, when I was growing up we used pen and paper to write letters!

I still find working on the computers difficult at times as my hands are not so steady but it has really has given me more confidence with reading and writing.”

After three years with the organisation Denise has no doubts about the benefits voluntary work has brought to her life. “When I came out of hospital I really wanted to get back on my feet volunteering has helped me get into a routine.

It’s given me a chance to meet other people and gives me something to look forward to.”

Katherine Bone - Growing independent

The organisation has not only enabled individuals to develop new skills and broaden social networks but also shaped the lives in other ways too.

 Katherine photocopying

Katherine photocopying For Katherine Bowen, 21, who joined the team two years ago - after completing a computer course at college - it has meant getting used to a new travel arrangements.

“When I was at college I always relied on mum and dad to give me a lift to college but I now I can get a taxi to and from my volunteering placement on my own.”

Despite her independence there is one small matter Katherine has yet to get used too. “I have to get up early to so I can get to my placement on time - I’m not very good at that yet!"

Skill Interviews

Skill Interview - Alan Eagle

Alan EagleAlan Eagle is the manager of Abbey Charitable Trust. He has many years experience working with volunteers with additional support needs in the voluntary sector and was instrumental in setting up Abbey plc disabled mentoring pilot scheme for staff with disabilities. The company’s other volunteering projects include working with local school pupils through e/face-to-mentoring and supporting charities using their business expertise, both are open to all employees.

“What we try and do is pair people up on the basis of their disability so that if someone has a visual impairment we would try and find a mentor who has experience of visual impairment,” Alan explained when he spoke to Skill via telephone from his office in Milton Keynes.

Find out why he set up the scheme, the role of the mentor and the incentive to Abbey. Read or listen to the interview.

Skill Interview - Dr Mike Nussbaum

Dr Mike Nussbaum is the Chair of Volunteering England and former Chair of the now defunct Consortium for Opportunities in Volunteering. He has an extensive CV working in the field of community development for local authorities and in the voluntary sector.

“I have always been involved in and with the voluntary sector - as a volunteer literally since my teens, Mike explained “When I retired I got involved with Volunteer Connection, the local Volunteer Bureau in Milton Keynes that inevitably got me involved almost nationally.”

Dr Mike Nussbaum talks about the new organisation he Chairs, his volunteering experience, his role in the Guide Dogs Access for all Campaign and his views on the changing image of volunteering. The interview was conducted via telephone from his home in Milton Keynes. Read or listen to the interview.

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Welcome to the Forum…

Got an opinion on the subject of volunteering? Good or bad let us know about it by visiting our discussion forum. Anecdotes, funny or otherwise, are welcome - so long as they fall within the realms of decency!

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For all other queries contact our information team - email or call our free helpline - 0800 328 5050

[Updated 17th September 2005]

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