When Mencap asked us to support their initiative to encourage young people with mild and moderate learning difficulties to volunteer, we were excited to help. 

Volunteering can be as beneficial to the person giving support as it is to the recipient, and we felt this was especially relevant in the case of the Mencap students. 

Volunteering is a great way of meeting new people and learning new things, but it also promotes independence, boosts self esteem and decreases stress. Additionally, for young people, it can help them identify a sense of purpose, and provide valuable experience recognised by employers – both of which can impact long-term career choices and future opportunities.  

Over two days, a small project team of Engagement Managers – Helen Maunsell, Jay Chaudhri, Tessa Dallyn-Roberts and Chris Kelleher presented to two groups of Mencap students with mild to moderate special educational needs, introducing them to the types of volunteering opportunities available to them, and the benefits of sharing their time and energy with others.  

Through formal presentation, group activities, and open dialogue, the students learnt about interview practice, volunteer training, support from the organisation, and the impact of covid-19 on volunteering. 

Opportunities ranging from one-off event support to long term volunteer apprenticeships supporting libraries and cafes were discussed, with clear direction on how to find and apply for vacancies. From dog-walking to charity shop volunteering, community gardening to telephone befriending, the students learned how they could form new friendships, learn new skills and enjoy new or pre-existing hobbies and activities.  

Attendees gave great feedback, saying they enjoyed the open dialogue between presenters and learners, liked being able to talk about their own points of view, and see volunteering as a great way for young adults to stand on their own.  

Many volunteering roles are already accessible to people with a learning disability, or can be adapted to suit individual needs. 

To find out volunteering roles near you visit our projects page.