Volunteering helps people and helps me too

In the latest of our series of blogs to mark Volunteers Week 2016, we hear from a man whose voluntary work provides double the benefits:  

I volunteer for The Leeds Disability People’s Parliament and the Partnership Board.

NHS England encourages me to volunteer on the Board as it helps me develop my leadership skills. I am also involved in the NHS England Disability and Wellbeing Network, making sure the voice of people with a learning disability is heard at work.

I co-chair the Board meetings which are held twice a month. It’s my job to make sure the meeting runs smoothly and the agenda is followed. Also, if I feel one of the speakers is not following the agenda, I either hurry them up or say there’s more time to talk while having lunch!

The reason it’s important for me to volunteer is because it gives me personal satisfaction knowing I have helped some people with a disability with making decisions on something very important. It also makes me feel appreciated and valued when people give me an opportunity to represent and speak up for people with a learning disability and/ or Autism.

Being a volunteer allows me to work alongside commissioners and councillors and also gives me the chance to experience things I wouldn’t if I wasn’t volunteering.

Many people with learning disabilities do volunteer but they are not always given the opportunity to do meaningful roles. Many more people with learning disabilities would like to volunteer but they face barriers such as not being given a chance, not having the right connections, discrimination or information not being available or accessible.

The Disability Action Alliance has developed a Volunteer Charter.

The vision is ‘A society in which the contribution of disabled people as volunteers is valued and volunteering opportunities are widely available on an equal and accessible basis’

It would be great if more organisations signed up to the Charter.

Aaron Wood

Aaron Oxford is a Learning Disability Network Manager in the engagement team with NHS England, a job he started in August 2015. Aaron was born with a rare genetic mild disability called Kabuki Syndrome that affects one in 32,000 births worldwide and is autistic.

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