Inspired By The Paralympics?
The Paralympics have fuelled a strong debate on how disabled people can achieve their full potential. Investment in formal training, education and local facilities is essential, but also important is the positive attitude of other members of society who can volunteer their time and provide moral and practical support.
Although busy work schedules and home lives prevent many people from giving their time to worthy causes, growing opportunities now exist to make a difference through microvolunteering where people can give bite-sized amounts of their time. Tasks can be completed in less than an hour and, in many cases, just a few minutes.
“Microvolunteering tasks can be completed at any time of day or night, with no prior commitment or special skills needed – all that’s required is the motivation and access to a computer,” said Mike Bright, founder and director of Help From Home which coordinates microvolunteering activities for over 800 charities and voluntary organisations. “These days you can make a difference by spending a few spare minutes in the comfort of your own home or office.”
Microvolunteering activities range from playing computer games that donate money to charity, to participating in social and scientific research or supporting better mobility and education facilities for the disabled. For example, you can sign petitions from Guide Dogs for the Blind to make streets more user friendly for blind and other disabled people, and make audio announcements compulsory on buses and coaches.
Or you can support Fix The Web which helps resolve internet accessibility problems. Poor standards of web accessibility mean many disabled people are excluded from using large parts of the internet, but Fix the web offers a solution with disabled people reporting their problems and volunteers taking these issues forward with website owners.
Another area of support is helping to expand the collection of audio books in the public domain. Librivox.org volunteers record chapters of their chosen books and release the audio files back onto the net for use by people with disabilities and learning difficulties, as well as other members of the community.
If you want to join a disabled people’s forum to give your moral support, there are a good number available including Scope Forum and youreable.com/ , or you can offer practical volunteering through many disability sites. Parasport.org.uk specialises in sports achievements for the disabled, and are looking for potential instructors and individual coaches.
If you have a special skill and prefer to volunteer from home, Sparked.com runs small projects that can be completed collaboratively and entirely online.
Help From Home coordinates both UK and overseas microvolunteering opportunities, and offers the widest choice to would-be microvolunteers. You can find out more on their website at helpfromhome.org.
First published in September, 2012
Author: Jan Schapira – Help From Home Press Officer