Are you someone who wants to make things better for all disabled people? BuDS is seeking additional volunteers to strengthen our team so that we can continue to fix the big issues affecting all disabled people in Bucks.
Being a BuDS Volunteer
BuDS volunteers are people who make Bucks better for disabled people. They don’t have to be disabled people, although most are. BuDS is a pan-disability charity, so we welcome people with all types of impairment and disability, whether sensory, physical, mental health, learning disability, long-term condition or autism.
BuDS is a very supportive, inclusive and accepting place where everyone can find a place. We understand that disabled people sometimes are not able to volunteer when they’d like to, and we work flexibly around you. An hour of your time is valuable if that’s all you can manage.
We welcome job-seekers and people looking to move closer to work. About half of our volunteers are jobseekers or getting work-related experience, and we actively support them by tailoring their role so they get the skills and experience they need. We also give references and will do our best to put you in touch with employers. Last year, 65% of our jobseeker volunteers got jobs within a year.
BuDS is not part of any DWP or JobCentre training or work programme. However, we are recognised by the DWP and BuDS volunteers do not need to worry about their benefits being affected. BuDS volunteering can be counted toward work commitments for JSA, ESA and UC.
BuDS volunteers all have a hands-on role within BuDS, working on one or more of our projects or taking on specific roles within a project. Your exact role is tailored to your availability, interests and skills, so that everyone – especially you – are happy.
Your lived experience as a disabled person and determination to change things for the better is just as important as your skills or background knowledge.
We are currently recruiting for:
- Benefit Information Project – Researcher
- Benefit Information Project – Social Media & Website Volunteer
- BucksWorkability – Project Worker
- BucksWorkability – Researcher/Website Volunteer
- Fair4All Services – Project Worker
- Fair4All Events – Event Volunteers
- Fair4All Events – Project Worker
- Accessible Everywhere – Project Worker(s)
- Website Editor
- Communications Volunteer
However, there are other roles available too, so please do get in touch if you are interested. We can often create a role to suit you!
Practical Aspects of Being a Volunteer
As a disability charity made up of disabled people, we are very flexible and open to varied ways of working and to ensuring that our working methods are accessible and inclusive. We look for ways that work for everyone, whatever their disability or impairment. Nobody should be put off applying to be a BuDS Volunteer because they are disabled!
BuDS is a modern charity with excellent IT. Volunteers get email accounts and use of shared document drives. IT support is available.
Some volunteers work from home with only occasional visits to our office, and some work from our comfortable well-equipped offices at the Clare Charity Centre, Saunderton. We like you to work in whatever way suits you best. Some roles involve meeting people and others don’t.
BuDS is a high-profile charity and there are opportunities for public campaigning and lobbying. However, there are just as many opportunities for quiet behind-the-scenes work – both are needed to get things done.
BuDS Volunteers can claim travel or subsistence expenses on request. There is a Volunteer Agreement and you are fully protected by our extensive public liability insurance.
How Do I Apply?
Please e-mail [email protected] to express an interest in becoming a Trustee. If you’d like an informal, no-commitment, chat with an existing volunteer, please e-mail [email protected] to arrange a phone call or message exchange.
We will then ask you to send us a brief CV and to explain why you would like to be a volunteer. This will be followed by an informal meeting with some of the Trustees, at a place and time that suits you. Following that, we will ask you to sign a Volunteer Agreement to become a BuDS volunteer and start working on a BuDS project. It’s as easy as that!
We obviously like volunteers to stay as long as they like, but we fully understand that you may need to leave unexpectedly or to take a leave of absence. We are delighted if any of our jobseeker volunteers leave to start work, whether they’ve been with us a week or a year!
Safeguarding is very important to us. Each role is individually assessed and many of our volunteers will have to have adult and/or children enhanced DBS (criminal record) checks. We arrange and pay for this if it’s needed. Equally, we may need to take up character references. Because we understand that some disabled people may have a criminal record or difficult periods in their past, we will consider everyone individually and carry out a risk assessment in discussion with you.
What Is BuDS?
Buckinghamshire Disability Service (BuDS) is the only independent pan-disability user-led organisation (DPULO) in Buckinghamshire. Pan-disability means we include all disabilities and impairments such as mental health, learning disability, physical impairments, sensory loss, autism, etc. User-led means we are disabled people taking action ourselves for ourselves.
We are non-party-political and non-partisan. We value our independence and do not accept core funding from any council or government body, although some of our projects are part-funded by statutory bodies. We are on the side of disabled people and will not hesitate to act and speak out in defence of disabled people in Buckinghamshire.
We are a registered charity in good governance, members of NCVO, Disability Rights UK and the Fundraising Regulator. Safeguarding is important to us. We are informal but professional and efficient.
What Does BuDS Do?
BuDS works to fix the big issues that affect all disabled people in Bucks, like social security benefits, NHS and council services, accessibility, transport, attitudes and employment. Our work removes barriers which prevent disabled people living their own lives, and finds answers to the big problems which affect disabled people. We don’t work directly with disabled individuals, but sort out the wider problems which affect large groups of disabled people, so that all can benefit.
We don’t duplicate work which is already being done by others; we ‘fill the gaps’ by tackling the issues that matter which nobody is tackling properly. We look at how important an issue is to disabled people before starting work – we don’t chase funding just because it’s there, or follow the government’s agenda.
We are fearless and speak out, telling the truth to power. We always like to work constructively in partnership with people and organisations, but if we find a deliberately closed door, we’ll do our best to kick it down!
How Does BuDS Work?
We have lots of projects, all run by a team of about 25 volunteers, mostly disabled people themselves. We deliberately have no paid staff. Some project work lies dormant waiting for volunteers to pick it up. Our projects are as follows:
- Benefits Information – helping disabled people understand the bewildering and often cruel changes to disability benefits which are happening all the time
- BucksWorkability – helping to improve services which support disabled people into work or help them stay there. We also help our own disabled volunteers to find work through our Reach4Work project.
- Accessible Everywhere – fixing the access problems and barriers which disabled people encounter in streets, public places, shops, parks, with parking, on public transport, etc. This is not just the physical problems, but looking at barriers facing people with all types of impairment or disability. We created the Stoke Mandeville Way to showpiece accessibility on public streets.
- Fair4All Services – monitoring NHS and council services for disabled people and where necessary intervening to get problems sorted and make things better
- Fair4All Taxis and Minicabs – helps ensure disabled people can get an accessible vehicle and trained driver at a fair price
- Fair4All Events – helps make outdoor public events accessible for disabled people
- Attitudes Project – opposing disability hate crime and negative attitudes to disability and disabled people
- Paralympics – we help arrange the Paralympic celebrations every two years in Bucks.