Helping the disadvantaged
What is it?     What you need     Getting started     Find out more


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What is it?

  • Many people in our society face special problems;  they include those with particular physical or mental disadvantages. 

  •  There are many specialist organisations helping people with these particular disadvantages;    others provide help to specific groups like youth or older people, families and individuals and those with particular health problems.  

  • Most of these organisations use volunteers on a regular or occasional basis. You can also be an informal carer for friends or family members who have problems of this kind.  

  • Much of the work involves basic activities like home visits, driving and befriending, though there is also scope for volunteers in special counselling and advisory services.  Other activities in which volunteers often participate include fund raising and administration.

Find out more


British Dyslexia Association
Disabled Living Foundation
Royal National Institute for Deaf People
Royal National Institute for the Blind
SCOPE (Spastics Association)

See also the organisations listed under Volunteering



Arthritis Today 
Disability Now 
Disability Times 
Stroke News 
The British Deaf News

Getting started

  • Find a local group or club that covers the type of disadvantaged people that you want to help (see organisations above).

  • See if your local group offers introductory sessions or events.  Take a class or course relevant to the type of disadvantage at your local adult education centre. 

  • Consult books or magazines on different types of disadvantage and how to cope with them.

  • Check in your local library/paper or volunteer centre for more information.

What you need

Skills and people
  • People of all ages and both sexes can volunteer to help others who are disadvantaged.  There is no need to have special skills or knowledge but many groups offer volunteers training in caring and giving advice.

  • Obviously, in order to help the disadvantaged, you need to be in contact with people with one or more of these special problems. 

  • You can find the people who need help either by contacting the specialist organisations or through your own friends and family.

Equipment or clothing
  • As a volunteer you don't need to have any special equipment, though volunteer drivers often use their own cars, and volunteer administrators may have their own computers and/or office equipment.  

  • Some organisations like you to wear badges or clothing to identify yourself.

A place or facilities
  • You can help people with special problems in their own homes, by taking/driving people where they want to go, or by working in a social centre or residential home.  

  • Fund raising and administration will generally involve activities locally, with some work at home.

Have a go - get started now


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