Disabilities and isolation: How volunteering at Parrainage civique Champlain can help the problem
by Do234 on April 11, 2015 - 6:37pm
I just started to volunteer with the Parrainage civique Champlain of St-Hubert. The organization’s mission is to promote the development of friendship and mutual relationships between individuals with different abilities and to facilitate the integration into the community of disabled people. Their purpose is to pair a volunteer with a person marginalized by his disabilities (mental/physical disabilities). This kind of organization exists also in the form of Big Brothers and Big Sisters.
I am volunteering there because I wanted to engage myself into a greater commitment. The news stories I read recently in the news made me realize to what extent disabled people are marginalized in Quebec. In these times of austerity, jobs are cut, and disabled people are particularly touched. That is what André Picard wrote about on March 24, 2015 in the Globe and Mail in his article ''You don’t help disabled workers by hiding them''. He informs us that people with disabilities have an unemployment rate close to 50 percent although a good majority of them are able to work well. The approach of sheltered workshops is used but is considered for many as outdated and counterproductive. Sheltered workshops group together disabled people and pay them less than the minimum wage with the excuse that they are being prepared for the competitive labour market. But the reality is that most of them will never leave these workshops and many will stay in their precarious situation. This problem is only widening the gap between disabled people and the rest of society. Their isolation is perpetuated and social relationships become more difficult to maintain.
It is by considering this important issue of isolation experienced by people with disabilities that I realized what the pairing could bring to someone kept apart from others. Although many of them are discriminated in the workplace, I believe that having a friend to talk to outside work, someone to share with and to laugh with, can make a big difference in the life of someone who is normally isolated.
As a volunteer, I was paired with a young woman in the purpose of doing an activity once a month with her for at least one year. Before being eligible to volunteer, a social worker interviewed me to know more about my motivations and my personality. We came to the conclusion that I would be a great godmother because of my empathy, listening skills and patience. From now on, I can help the organization by giving my time to this commitment and by sharing a part of my life with a disabled person.
Link to the organization’s site: http://www.parrainagechamplain.org/
Picard, André. ''You don’t help disabled workers by hiding them.'' The Globe and Mail. The Globe and Mail, 24 March 2015. Web. 11 April. 2015.