Someone Like Me – Volunteering Scheme Gets A Boost
Volunteering Scheme Gets A Boost
Someone Like Me – About The Project
“Someone Like Me” is an exciting volunteering project at Bendrigg Trust which has been generously supported by a £10,000 grant from Cumbria Community Foundation through a number of their Trust funds including Holehird Trust. We are currently seeking match funding to enable us to fulfil our ambitions for this fantastic project – please get in touch if you would like further information.
“Bendrigg Trust do a wonderful job helping people with disabilities reach their full potential. Like many organisations in the voluntary sector, Bendrigg Trust is playing an important role helping people connect in their local community. We are very thankful to our fundholders for their generosity in funding this new initiative that we believe can play a big part in making life better for people with disabilities in our area.”
Annalee Holliday, Senior Grants, Programmes & Communications Officer Cumbria Community Foundation
“Someone Like Me” is a three-year project designed to enable people with disabilities to fulfil their potential as volunteers, harnessing the unique contribution that they, and they alone, can bring to outdoor adventure activities.
Traditionally, Bendrigg has drawn on the skills and commitment of the local Cumbrian community to offer an exemplary and inclusive approach to volunteering. However, there remains in society today a lack of recognition for the contribution that people with disabilities can bring to volunteering, as noted by the Olympic/Paralympic movement: “people with disabilities are often the recipients of volunteer services but are rarely considered as a potential volunteer resource”.
‘Someone Like Me’ addresses this concealed injustice. At its heart, is an understanding that often the catalyst for the growth and flourishing of another person is the recognition that someone just like me, someone I can identify with – who with just the right word or gesture – can motivate and inspire me.
What are the project aims?
The “Someone like Me Project” aims to support 40 people each year who have disabilities/additional support needs to participate as volunteers at Bendrigg, in turn enabling 3,000+ others to take part in the charity’s programmes. Volunteers will be involved in a wide range of activities from delivery of Bendrigg’s outdoor programmes; grounds maintenance/environmental projects; marketing/fundraising; office administration; to catering/hospitality roles.
A dedicated marketing campaign to promote the project will include a new volunteer film, viewing volunteering from the perspective of participants with disabilities, who will inspire others and help reduce the anxiety of potential new recruits.
“Bendrigg is the only place that will have me.” – Volunteer with learning and mental health support needs
Why is this project so important?
“People see my list of disabilities and they look at my needs and just see additional hard work. They dismiss me.” – Bendrigg participant
The acute observation of one recent participant in activities at Bendrigg, reveals the ways in which people with disabilities in our communities, simply disappear out of sight, and this is not an accident. Too often they are defined by their ‘condition’, and then it is only a short step to being someone who requires more work, more resource, or who should be ‘protected’ from the excitement and challenges the rest of us take for granted. Finally, they become invisible, as the recent pandemic has tragically and abundantly revealed.
Indeed, many experience:
- Lack of confidence and low self-esteem;
- Social-exclusion, low expectations and isolation – 24% of children/young people with a long-term limiting disability, special need or illness often, or always, feel lonely (Sport England, Jan 2021);
- Negative attitudes and discrimination. Research by the Papworth Trust shows that 56% of people with a disability report having experienced hostility, aggression or violence from a stranger;
- Lower life expectations and fewer employment opportunities;
- A lack of opportunities to participate in accessible sporting activities negatively impacting on mental and physical health, including through obesity, lack of motivation and depression;
- Poverty: disability is strongly linked to poverty. 30% of people in families where a member has a disability, live in poverty, compared to 19% of those who do not.
Bendrigg’s work with volunteers is highly regarded and highly valued. A survey carried out by Manchester Business School (December 2021) showed that the overall experience of volunteering at Bendrigg was rated at 4.97/5 points and all volunteers participating stated that they would recommend Bendrigg to a friend or colleague. This is a powerful endorsement of the work and approach. Nonetheless, it is our experience that we are unable to accept all the people who apply to us to volunteer, simply because we do not have the capacity to do so, and some volunteers, including those with additional support needs, therefore miss out on the opportunity and have to be signposted elsewhere, although there are very few opportunities for them. The summer months can present a particular bottle neck as it is a time when lots of people come forward to volunteer. Many who have come to Bendrigg and been transformed by the “Bendrigg experience, long to keep “reaching high, digging deep and venturing far and wide” long after they leave, but currently have little or no opportunity to do so. ‘Someone like Me’ will enable Bendrigg to dedicate increased resource to volunteers with additional support needs, for whom the experience of volunteering can be life changing.
People like Thomas, reflecting here about his experience at Bendrigg:
“When I wasn’t climbing, under the supervision of the Tutors, I was supporting the other climbers by b-laying. I can’t stress this point enough. The fact that they involved everyone to lend a helping hand, is super impressive for me… The fact that I was asked to lend a hand, made me feel valued for being able to help other people. More importantly, I also felt like part of the team, which is a rare feeling for many people with a disability.”
Volunteering at Bendrigg Trust
Volunteers have been an important part of Bendrigg’s fabric since the very beginning. Over 150 people each year volunteer in one way or another and there is much research to show the positive effects of this including:
- Increasing your skills, knowledge and confidence
- Helps to reduce stress levels
- You can develop new friendships
- Feel a sense of belonging
- Broaden your life experiences
- Gain a greater understanding of other peoples points of view
- Feel less isolated
- Improve both physical and mental health
- Gain work experience for personal and career development
You can get involved in volunteering at Bendrigg in a number of ways including:
- Residential Volunteers – who work alongside our activity groups
- Work parties – from organisations and businesses looking to support our work
- Duke of Edinburgh & John Muir Award schemes
- Day volunteering opportunities (one off & regular placements) this could be working in our office, grounds maintenance or supporting our domestic and kitchen teams.
We are lucky to have lots of people who want to volunteer at Bendrigg multiple times throughout the year but would love to welcome new volunteers to come and experience the magic of Bendrigg.
How do I apply?
If you’d like to apply to volunteer with us you can do so on our website here : https://www.bendrigg.org.uk/support-us/volunteer/ where there is also more information about the volunteering opportunities available.
The “Someone Like Me” project wheels will soon be set in motion as we continue to look for further funding opportunities, we’ll keep you posted with our progress and update our website and social media pages with updates along the way!
Please get in touch with our team if you have any questions or would like any further information.