Volunteering FAQs


What is an intellectual disability?

An intellectual disability affects the way a person learns, communicates, or does everyday things. There are many different types of intellectual disability, they can be mild, moderate or severe. A person has an intellectual disability for life.

What training will I be given?

You will receive orientation before you start along with learning about intellectual disability and the resources available to you through IHC.

Orientation covers:

  • How to be a great volunteer
  • What is an intellectual disability?
  • Health and safety issues
  • Support we will provide you
  • Ongoing training for volunteers

Your volunteer coordinator will ensure that you have access to ongoing training and provide you with any information specific to the person you are matched with that you may need.

How much time do I have to give?

We would like you to keep doing what you already do so that you don’t take time out of your busy life. For our volunteer friendship programme an hour or two per week is going to ensure that you get to know each other well. It’s more about including someone in your current activities, than finding more time. As a skill-based volunteer you set the time commitment to fit the project while still fitting in with your life.

How do I choose what to do?

You and the person with the intellectual disability choose how to spend your time together, it is important you make these decisions equally. Your volunteer coordinator will work with you to identify what you and the person with the intellectual disability are interested in doing together. For our friendship programme you might like to walk on the beach, go to the movies, or catch up over a coffee. Skill-based volunteering will be more structured.

What if I start and I don’t like what I am doing?

Your volunteer coordinator will keep in contact with you regularly and is available to support and guide you. You can always contact them to discuss your role as a volunteer and what can be done to support you and and the person you are matched with. Your volunteer coordinator will help you make changes if necessary.

I don’t know anything about intellectual disability. How do I find out more?

You don’t need to know about intellectual disability. It is more important to get to know the person. Your volunteer coordinator will provide you with any information specific to the person you are matched with that you may need. IHC is a world leader in intellectual disability and has a great library, which is open to the public and free to join. Find out more about the IHC Library.

When we go out together who pays?

The person with the disability pays for themselves. IHC is able to reimburse you for reasonable expenses incurred during the time you share, for example your coffee, or petrol expenditure. We are grateful to our donors for enabling us to do this.

What happens if I need to use my car?

You will be reimbursed for reasonable mileage as long as it has been agreed with your volunteer coordinator in advance. We will need to see your driver’s license and also ensure your car is roadworthy.

Are there any safety issues that I need to be aware of?

Health and safety is a large part of our obligation to volunteers and the people we support and we make sure you get all the information you need during orientation to assist with this.

How do I become a volunteer in the one-to-one programme?

Thank you for your interest in volunteering with IHC. You can call us toll free on 0800 442 442, or fill out the contact form.

Documents you might need

Things you might be interested in


Play a big part in the life of a person with an intellectual disability and the work IHC does by joining our One-to-One Friendship or Skills-based Volunteer Programmes.

IHC Library

Our Library is free to use for anyone living in NZ. We have information on all aspects of intellectual disability, autism and other developmental disabilities.


IHC provides advocacy support wherever there is a need to stand up for the rights of one or all people with intellectual disabilities in New Zealand.