State of Gloucestershire: Volunteering
Our State of Gloucestershire Research
In 2021, Barnwood’s Insights team carried out a research project called the State of Gloucestershire. Over 260 disabled people and people with mental health conditions living in Gloucestershire responded to a survey. The survey asked about their experiences of accessing a range of opportunities and the quality and accessibility of their housing.
We have produced a series of booklets, each on a specific topic, which include the survey findings and relevant findings from research conducted by others. The booklets also include recommendations for organisations and providers which have been drawn from the findings.
Our survey findings indicate that disabled people and people with mental health conditions living in Gloucestershire face a range of barriers to accessing volunteering opportunities. One in three of the survey respondents told us that they can do the volunteering they would like to do. The most frequently reported barriers to volunteering were:
- ‘My health (e.g. my disability means I need a lot of rest)’
- ‘It’s difficult for me to travel to places’
- and ‘I don’t feel confident enough’.
The respondents also told us what would help them to take part in volunteering. Almost half of the respondents (46%) said that the option to volunteer flexibly was one of the three enablers they would find most helpful. Being able to easily find information about what volunteering is available, lots of choice of volunteering they could do, getting help when doing volunteering activities, and inclusive volunteering were also identified as key enablers.
Our findings reflect the social model of disability. Although respondents reported experiencing barriers to volunteering, we also heard that if conditions within society were changed these barriers could begin to be addressed.
Based on our survey findings and our review of research conducted by others, we recommend the following actions to make volunteering opportunities more accessible to disabled people and people with mental health conditions:
- Engagement: Proactively and directly engage with disabled people and people with mental health conditions to understand how to improve access to volunteering opportunities. Co-production and co-design can also help ensure that information about these opportunities is fully accessible.
- Accessible information: Provide clear and accessible information about volunteering opportunities in a range of formats and via multiple channels, along with the option for in-person contact. Accessible information provision should consider all the useful information that might be provided to enable real choice.
- Choice: Take proactive steps to ensure real choice is available and accessible to disabled people and people with mental health conditions about volunteering opportunities. Choice is more than just a greater range of options, it’s about making sure that what’s currently on offer is accessible to everyone.
We have produced the Volunteering booklet in a range of different accessible formats. We will be doing the same for all of the booklets as part of the State of Gloucestershire reports.