helps pupils with reading skills at Knowland Grove First School
is the first in a series of articles on BBC Norfolk Online exploring
the role of disabled people within the voluntary sector. In
particular, the gains for disabled people from volunteering
will be examined.
A road accident
in 1992 left 24-year-old Rachel Lake with brain damage.
to re-learn absolutely everything - moving, thinking," she
Rachel, who lives in Norwich, attended the Oliver Zangwell rehabilitation
centre for people with neuro-psychological injuries in Ely, Cambs.
As part of her rehabilitation she was given the goal of finding
paid or unpaid work.
When she approached
Norwich and Norfolk Voluntary Service she was offered a placement
at the Vauxhall Centre in Norwich. At this Social Services day centre
for people with physical and sensory disabilities, Rachel helped
with art and craft activities.
In July 1999 NVS found Rachel another placement at Knowland Grove
First School in Norwich. There she reads with the children, guiding
them with spelling and helping the class teacher.
to re-learn basic skills after the accident
has helped to build up Rachel's confidence. "When I'm working
with somebody of a lower ability and then they can understand the
work, that is really, really rewarding," she said.
It has allowed
her to deal with issues surrounding her disability: "I think
it has put it behind me a bit. It's not so much of a factor that's
in the front of my mind now."
Since September she has also been a student at Wensum Lodge adult
education college, studying an access to art course which she hopes
will win her a place to do a foundation course in art at Norwich
School of Art and Design.
that her combined interests in work and study make her more confident
about meeting new people.
meet somebody for the first time now, they say 'what do you do?'
and I say 'I work in a school and I'm also a student at Wensum Lodge'
I don't have to say that I'm disabled and I don't do anything."
Voluntary work also helps to build skills and confidence which are
invaluable for the world of paid work: "I
believe it's helped me get into the role of work, which I've never
ever done before. I've never ever worked. It's also helped me with
dealing with people."
Rachel speaks very highly of Norfolk and Norwich Voluntary Service:
"It's very helpful and has certainly helped me."
to attend art college later this year
are amongst those who NVS is trying to encourage into volunteering
and they have just been awarded extra cash by the European Social
Fund for this purpose. Meaning that people with disabilities, like
Rachel, can look forward to better opportunities and improved support
Only limited statistics are available on the number of disabled
people who do volunteer. A Voldata survey by NVS in 1999 recorded
more than 1200 people involved in voluntary work in Norfolk, but
the survey only had a 23% response rate so the actual rate will
be much higher.
The European Social Fund money amounts to £544,000 which
will be matched by contributions from Norfolk Social Services and
Norfolk and Waveney TEC: "This funding will provide a real
'behind the scenes' boost to the voluntary sector in Norfolk, it
will, we hope, particularly benefit smaller voluntary and community
groups," says NVS director Ann Polley.
Link to Norwich and Norfolk Voluntary