Make volunteering in sport more appealing for disabled people
New research released this month will enable providers to improve their volunteering opportunities, especially for disabled people. The report, ‘Encouraging disabled people to volunteer in sport’, explores the barriers to volunteering and the drivers that could improve its appeal.
The English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) alongside the eight National Disability Sports Organisations* and Sport England commissioned the project. It aims to understand more on volunteering in sport, as well as to improve the quality and number of opportunities for disabled people. The researchers involved almost 1,500 disabled and non-disabled people in the report and compared the differences in perception and experience of volunteering between the two audiences.
One key finding explores the reason disabled people may not volunteer in sport. It shows the impact disabled people’s low participation in sport has on volunteering. Disabled people who volunteer in sport are twice as likely as non-disabled people to have taken part before. This suggests that the sport sector is not something that appeals to disabled people who have not been part of it previously. Concern about the need for volunteers to be frequently involved (at least once a week) arose in responses. Disabled people can be fearful of regular commitment due to fluctuating health problems.
Other key findings included:
- There is a desire from disabled people to volunteer, but they are more likely to have negative experiences. A
- Despite disabled people’s higher level of interest in volunteering in society generally, this is not reflected in their level of interest in volunteering in sport.
- Providers of volunteering opportunities feel that they lack the skills and ability to support disabled people fully in their volunteering roles.
- Providers do not routinely ask or capture whether volunteers have impairments or long-term health conditions.
Barry Horne, Chief Executive of EFDS, said: “We know that volunteers are vital in sport and active recreation. Not only do they help to boost the number of activities available, but develop leaders and role models in sport. Disabled people offer useful skills that can be extremely valuable and it is a missed opportunity not to draw from their lived experiences.
Phil Smith, Director of Sport at Sport England, said: “The contribution of 6.7 million volunteers in sport is immense. It helps individuals get more active, it benefits local communities, and it can do wonders for the volunteers themselves. However, as this new report identifies, there’s a lot to do to make the experience more attractive to disabled people."
- Click here to read the full article on the EFDS website, and download the report.
- Go to www.englandathletics.org/volunteers to find out more about volunteering in athletics.