In August the Ministry of Social Development announced additional funding for the Community Volunteer Supplement Program (CVS). This program encourages people on income and disability assistance to volunteer by providing up to a $100.00 supplement to offset volunteer expenses such as travel or clothing.
An estimated 13,000 disability assistance clients have been on a waitlist – some for up to three years. Some of the folks on the waitlist have been volunteering already and others now have up until October 31st to find an appropriate place to volunteer.
As you can imagine the advisors at Volunteer Victoria have been very busy. We have had an influx of people wanting to find placements and sometimes it feels as though we are sending many people to a pool of the same organizations who regularly receive these inquires.
Accommodation is as sensitive an issue with agencies as it is with the people who have disabilities who are looking for meaningful volunteer work.
We have had feedback that there just does not seem to be enough positions available on the data-base which people who are “differently-abled” can do. However we don’t think that being “inclusive” is to post opportunities specifically for those that have disabilities. What is it that determines what people with disabilities can or cannot do anyway? There are many types of disabilities and the people that have them can have a range of hidden talents – the key for agencies is to be open to the idea of having a more diverse organization and to perhaps be flexible in the recruitment process.
As agencies can we think outside the box? Are there some tasks that we are overlooking that could be assigned to another volunteer? Does your agency have two and a half hours of work a week or one and quarter hours twice a week where a new volunteer could come and help out? Many of these potential volunteers do have support for getting established in their roles and becoming a regular part of your agency’s team. If the fit is good these volunteers tend to be long termed and committed.
One thing that we do know for sure is that there are many people with a variety of skills that would really benefit from being able to connect with agencies in their community. Not only does this give them a chance to become active and increase their confidence but in this case it also helps with some extra funds in a time where that is really important.