Volunteering organisations like the LFC Foundation are increasing sports participation amongst young people with complex and additional needs, and the positive impact those volunteers have on their community.
We spent a few days volunteering at the LFC Foundation at their Respect 4 All activity day.
Volunteering for the LFC Foundation
Our day as volunteers at the LFC Academy was non-stop from the get-go. We arrived and were given our volunteering kit as well as a detailed briefing about the day ahead. We had just enough time for a quick coffee before people started to arrive.
I could immediately tell that the children looked forward to these events from the big smiles on their faces and the numbers just kept growing and growing. It was going to be an action-packed day for the volunteers and participants.
There were a number of different games, which offered something for everyone there. The coaches split everyone into groups by age categories. My group were all full of energy before the goalball activity. They even insisted on penalty shootouts and racing me while we waited for our next game. I was exhausted!
As the day went on, we all got to find out more about each other, and what activities we enjoyed the most. For me this was the most striking effect of the activity day, not the activities, fun though they were, but the interaction and the positive energy. The inclusivity of the day was amazing and differences in situation and ability were quickly forgotten as everyone got involved.
The event on the day had over fifty participants with thirty parents and guardians attending. It was a great turnout and a brilliant success and I would encourage anyone to get involved.
The impact of foundations on volunteers with a disability
Respect 4 all is Liverpool FC foundation’s inclusive, weekly multi-sport event. The event is for children and young people with complex and additional needs in the Liverpool community.
The Foundation is one of many across the UK, helping get more disabled young people into sports and regular physical activity. The Liverpool FC Foundation is one of many that are funded by the premier league and BT.
Volunteering with a disability
We all know the social benefits that volunteering can generate, both for the individual volunteer and those around them. These benefits are arguably even more important to a person with a disability.
But, for years there has been an underrepresentation among people with a disability in the voluntary sector. In 2015 only 36% per cent of people with a disability or long-term illness participated in some form of volunteering. However, through the work of Liverpool FC Foundation, the hope is we can help these numbers grow.
30% of grant-receiving organisations, like Liverpool FC Foundation, have reported that they have seen an increase in confidence and development of people skills in their volunteers. This was evident in my interview with Steve and Dylan, two young men who are involved with the ‘Respect 4 all’ programme.
16% of these organisations have also suggested that volunteering has enabled disabled volunteers to gain employment. Disabled volunteers experience a reduction in social isolation, become role models for other disabled participants and develop real-life skills. These are serious benefits that really impact the quality of peoples lives and should not be taken lightly as to their importance.
So what are the benefits of engaging volunteers with a disability?
Volunteering is an act of kindness, a way of helping others, therefore, it should be universally accessible. Engaging volunteers with a disability would not only enhance their skills but the capacity of the organisation itself. It is important to break the social stereotypes. A diverse voluntary organisation better understands the barriers disabled people face on a daily bases and that understanding can only lead to an improvement in the provision; especially when organisations see the potential disabled volunteers hold.
Overall, our day at the LFC Academy was enjoyable, educative and inspiring. It was amazing to see the high turn out and how much everyone looked forward to these weekly activities. The LFC Foundation has impacted so many peoples lives and by the success of the program, it looks like they will continue to do so.
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