Life’s too short to get offended

Guest post from Jay. Jay Lusted is a TV presenter, actor and motivational speaker who was born with a rare form of dwarfism.  

 Jay was in the papers last week talking about the awkward moment when he was out having a meal with his fiancée, and the waitress grabbed a colouring book and crayons to hand to him, after mistaking him for a child.

A few months ago I was out and about in Cardiff with my fiancée Chloe and we were hungry, so we decided to go to the Harvester for a meal.

When we walked in, the waitress asked Chloe how many people we needed a table for and Chloe replied “two please”. The waitress quickly glanced and saw me standing next to Chloe, then grabbed a colouring book and some crayons.

I just giggled to myself and Chloe looked at me and laughed too.

As we approached the table I said “thank you very much”. The waitress obviously heard my deep voice, quickly noticed I wasn’t a child, and realised that I didn’t need a colouring book and some crayons!

The waitress didn’t say anything, but she held the colouring book and the crayons behind her back, and Chloe and I carried on like normal looking through the menu, giggling about what had just happened.

 The waitress at the restaurant was busy and rushed off her feet during rush hour, she just made a little mistake, that’s all.

These things happen and it didn’t bother me or Chloe at all. It wasn’t the first time this sort of thing has happened to me.

Another time I was in Asda with my friend and he was holding a crate of beer when an elderly lady approached him and said “you better not give any of those cans to him,” meaning me, now we found that hilarious!

I’m a dwarf and some people get offended about that word, but I have a dwarfism therefore that makes me a dwarf. I love my life and I wouldn’t change the way I am at all.

The only thing that offends me, and I would 100% approach someone if they called me it, is the word ‘midget’ or the ‘M’ word as it’s called in our house.

That word means something different, depending on who you are or where you come from and it’s use is particularly offensive to the majority of dwarfs or little people. There are some dwarfs that aren’t keen on the word dwarf but prefer the terms ‘little person or ‘little people’. But the ‘M’ word can cause distress even when it isn’t meant as a derogatory term.

But I believe that life’s too short (pardon the pun but it’s true!) to get offended about genuine mistakes, like the one the waitress made. I can’t go about my day to day life getting offended because my life would be boring and negative. People make mistakes, we’re all human, and we all make mistakes.

Follow Jay on Twitter or check out his website.

Andrew Macdonald

An organisation very much in its stride

Post from Scope’s new chair, Andrew McDonald 

It is exciting to be joining a charity that is clear in its purpose, clear in its strategy and ambitious in terms of what it wants to achieve. It is clear to anyone that has anything to do with Scope, that this is an organisation very much in its stride.

A huge amount of credit has to go to Alice Maynard. This is a very different organisation to the one she joined in 2008. It’s testament to her leadership. I have a tough act to follow and publicly I would like to pay tribute to Alice’s extraordinary achievements as Chair.

Why am I here?

First and foremost I’m a disabled person. I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2007. Three years later, I was told I had prostate cancer, a condition that is now incurable. I have been profoundly changed by those experiences.

When first diagnosed with Parkinson’s, I wanted to get on with my life. But I also wanted to be open with my team. But colleagues advised me not to do so – “because you will be labelled as a disabled civil servant and it will end your career”.  I was really shocked. I decided I wanted to go ahead all the same because if I didn’t, I felt I was making it more difficult for the next person.  And if these attitudes persisted in the Civil Service, a relatively liberal and enlightened employer, what were things like elsewhere?

I went on to chair taskforces on disability in the civil service, each aimed at improving the lot of disabled employees. That experience left me with the clear conviction that we need to act to make our workplaces more open to discussion of illness and disability.   We need them to be safe and supportive environments in which everybody feels their voice will be heard.  And we all – disabled or not – have a responsibility to bring that about.

I know now that a diverse workplace is not just a fairer workplace: it is more likely to be a more effective workplace. At its simplest, if people come to the table with a diversity of experience, they are more likely to make better decisions.

Scope’s work on the ground, in Parliament and through campaigning to ensure disabled people get the support they need to find work and flourish in work is vital.

We need to get better at talking about disability. A recent book review of a thriller by Martin Cruz Smith noted that the author had just “admitted” to having Parkinson’s. Pause for a moment and you will see that that verb stares out at you as extraordinary. Again, Scope is on the case: Scope’s End the Awkward campaign is light-hearted but it makes a serious point.

I have learned a lot through my work on disability in the Civil Service. I have also written and lectured on my experience of disability. One of the most important insights of the last seven years – and one of my motivations – is that I have so much more to learn. Each of us has a particular, a unique experience of disability.   Recognising that and respecting it is crucial. .

What can I bring?

My first priority is to learn.  To learn about Scope and its work; to learn about how I can best make my contribution.

I have worked across government and at the most senior levels of government, developing and implementing strategies, leading organisations and delivering change. That experience has been supplemented in recent years by my time as a trustee at Action for Children and the Cure Parkinson’s Trust.

My last job was one of the toughest in the public sector. From its creation, I led the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA), the body charged with sorting out MPs’ expenses and pay. It wasn’t easy. I steered it through some tricky times. I know the importance of listening when the going is tough. I know what is like to take tough, potentially unpopular decisions. And I know what it’s like to front those decisions.

I bring energy and enthusiasm for the vision and mission of Scope. From what I already know of Scope, I am clear that the next few years offer us a unique and exciting opportunity to bring about change, lasting change for disabled people. And to bring that about by putting disabled people at the heart of all we do.

I can’t think of a more motivating, or more important challenge.

(This is an edited version of Andrew’s speech at Scope’s Annual General Meeting on Saturday 18 October 2014)

Wheelchair user buying some food in a shop

Cutting the cost of disability

Trying to cope with above average living costs, pushes many disabled people and their families into debt. We have been sharing some great money-saving ideas with The Guardian from our new tips section on our online community.

Scope’s report Priced out; ending the financial penalty of disability by 2020 has revealed that disabled people are twice as likely to live in poverty, with 49% using credit cards or loans to pay for everyday items, including clothing and food.

Disabled adults spend, on average, an extra £550 on costs associated with their disability.

These typically stem from having to pay for items such as wheelchairs and stairlifts, buying more of everyday things like heating or taxis to work, and having to pay more for services like insurance and travel.

So what can disabled people do to cut costs?

Here are just some of the practical tips people have been sending in:

  • Go to Disabledgear.com and Disabilitybits.co.uk to buy second-hand specialist equipment at bargain prices. It’s also free to advertise stuff you no longer use. For example, say you need a Rollator – a walking aid with wheels. They cost around £265 new but on DisabledGear you can find them for £80.
  • Borrow expensive equipment before you buy. Your school/college or day centre may be willing to lend it to you.
  • Charities, including The Newlife Foundation for children and Cerebra offer grants towards specialist equipment, toys and services.
  • Abilitynet gives free IT support including advice on how to apply for grants for specially adapted computer equipment, and a list of organisations to apply to. Its free helpline is on 0800 269 545.
  • Computers for the Disabled supplies recycled PCs and new parts to the disabled and housebound.
  • Filling in the disability living allowance (DLA) claim form can be a daunting task. But the step-by-step guide from Cerebra makes the job easier. Call 0800 328 1159 or email info@cerebra.org.uk to request a printed copy or you can download it and print it out yourself.
  • Some hotel groups such as Travelodge, Premier Inn and Jurys Inn allow three adults to share a family room which is ideal if you need to supervise the person you are caring for and great for cheap short breaks.
  • Specialist shoes can be free. Check with your physio or orthopaedic surgeon.
  • When visiting attractions, ask ahead if they offer any concessions for the disabled. Most offer discounts, special access, and carers-go-free tickets.
  • Search for grants towards the cost of equipment, holidays, housing, and days out at Disability Grants.
  • Families with disabled children can be eligible to free home insulation, council tax rebates etc.
  • Some people may not be aware that incontinence aids such as pads and bed protection sheets are available free in some areas on the NHS. To find out if you are eligible, ask your local district nurse (get details at your GP surgery) for an assessment.
  • Large changing mats can be expensive. Try a waterproof picnic blanket, much cheaper and easy to keep clean.
  • Baby wipes cost a small fortune and we get through thousands so we buy them in bulk using Amazon’s “subscribe and save” feature which offers a discount of up to 15% and free regular deliveries.
  • I’ve been looking for a writing slope for ages but didn’t want to pay £40 plus. I finally found one in Ikea called BRÄDA for £2.50 that is meant for a laptop, but does the job!
  • Sponge hair rollers are a fantastic and cheap way to help improve grip on tricky objects. Just slot the sponge hair roller through a fork, toothbrush etc.
  • Since therapeutic chairs are so expensive, I made my toddler a little play station with a Bumbo seat and a tray with legs that is used for eating in bed. The tray has a table that can incline towards him to draw or do puzzles, and I use it flat for playing with blocks.

Read other tips about finance and benefits, equipment and aids and around the home.

Alex Brooker2

It took me seven years to find my big break, but I did it – and you can too

Guest post from Alex Brooker, presenter of Channel 4’s The Last Leg and star of Scope’s End the Awkward ads. Alex has been working with young people on Scope’s First Impressions, First Experiences programme, which supports disabled people aged 16 to 25 into work placements at top companies.

Alex in the End The Awkward video
Alex in Scope’s End The Awkward video

All I’ve ever wanted to do was to be paid to watch football. Unfortunately I realised it doesn’t work as a career choice, so I ended up doing the next best thing – working as a sports reporter on a newspaper in Liverpool.

I studied journalism at university, did a work placement at the paper, and they offered me a job. I spent half my time on placement reporting on toddlers’ football matches, but I did it because I was determined to make an impression.

But after a while I realised that it wasn’t really what I wanted to do. I didn’t know where to go next, and I spent years applying for other jobs – without a sniff of luck.

My big break

Alex BrookerThen, in 2012, I did an audition video for Channel 4, which was looking for reporters to present its coverage of the Paralympics. I was offered a gig as a reporter on The Last Leg – at the time it was the Paralympics highlights show.

It was a huge gamble. I was quitting my job for what was basically a nine-day contract (what if I was crap, and everyone on the internet laughed at me?) But I knew I couldn’t turn it down.

My first on-air interview was with the Prime Minister in the Paralympic stadium, with 11 million people watching. I’ve never been so scared in my life. My first line was, ‘Tell you what David, it’s packed to the rafters in here…’

It was the best feeling ever – when it was over. Fortunately for me, it went really well.

After my first day working on the Last Leg, I was asked to co-host – I wouldn’t be a reporter any more, I’d be on the sofa doing the jokes.

I counted myself as half-decent funny in the pub, but doing it night after night on television is a different matter!

Four series on, I feel very lucky to have been thrust into this TV life. I get invited to awards parties, and sometimes I get given free stuff, which is nice. I got given some free cooking sauce the other day.

In some ways, though, it’s just like any other job. The key is preparation – it’s a topical show, and if you don’t do your research you can’t be funny. We do so much reading for every show.

How to make it happen

When you’re looking for a job, you need confidence in your abilities and a thick skin. I’m still not quite there yet, but I’m working on it.

I waited seven years between my first job as a reporter and getting the job at Channel 4. Seven years of rejections. But I didn’t lose confidence in my ability, and you shouldn’t either.

Wherever you want to end up in life, the big thing is confidence. It doesn’t come overnight, but you just have to look at yourself and think: what do I bring to the table? Some people are funny, some people are organised, some people are good listeners. Everyone’s got something.

And don’t be afraid of your disability. That’s who you are. It’s who I am. My hands are part of me – I can’t go into an interview with a pair of mittens on hoping they don’t notice!

Be confident. You’ve got something that no one else has, I promise you.

Alex chaired the judging panel for the first Disability Power List, which launched today.

Improving disabled people’s living standards at the Liberal Democrat Party Conference

Scope’s political conference season concluded in a decidedly wintry Glasgow this week with the Liberal Democrat Party Conference. As at the Labour and the Conservative conferences, we were seeking to once again highlight the need to drive improvements in the lives of disabled people to the key influencers within the Party, specifically in the areas of extra costs, employment and social care.

On Sunday night the Care and Support Alliance (CSA) hosted the final of three conference fringe events. The debate was this time chaired by Emma Stone, Director of Policy and Research at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, with Helena Herklots, CEO at Carers UK, Joe Twyman, the Head of Political and Social Research at YouGov and the Care Minister Norman Lamb MP completing the panel. In front of another large audience, the debate stressed the importance of social care support in empowering people to realise their aspirations, and amidst some tough questioning from the floor, it was encouraging to hear the Minister acknowledging the need for more resource in the system, alongside the potential benefits of improved integration with the health care system.

Norman Lamb and Richard Hawkes at the Care and Support Alliance stand

There were a number of fringe events on social care throughout the conference, and the CSA polling was quoted time and against throughout the week. This reflected a key narrative of the conference, with the Party keen to emphasise that having the Liberal Democrats in Government is the only way to build a stronger economy and a fairer society. On several occasions, including his speech as Party leader, Nick Clegg explicitly highlighted that safeguarding the social care system was an issue of key importance. It is extremely encouraging that the Party recognises this, and Scope will continue to push for this to become a political priority.

As part of our work on improving social care for disabled people, we also met with Paul Burstow MP, the former Care Minister. With important regulations on the Care Act set to be published within the next month, it is particularly important that we keep working closely with all Parliamentarians on this issue.

Glasgow also marked the third and final appearance of the spectacular CSA conference stand – for this autumn at least – and it proved to be as popular as ever with a range of Ministers, MPs and conference delegates visiting across the four days. This included the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, the Cabinet Minister, David Laws and Norman Lamb. It was fantastic to have the opportunity to speak to these senior figures about the importance of social care, and a great example of the unique levels of access that only conferences can provide.

Nick Clegg at the Care and Support Alliance stand

On Tuesday, Scope co-hosted the final event of the Centre for Social Justice’s (CSJ) conference programme. This time the Minister for Pensions, Steve Webb MP, joined Richard Hawkes on the panel alongside Alex Burghart, the Director of Policy at the CSJ.

CSJ panel

The event again underlined the importance of improving employment support for disabled people, stressing the importance of positively changing employer attitudes and the necessity of building disabled people’s confidence when engaging with the workplace.

Richard used the debate to highlight the welcome understanding the Liberal Democrats have demonstrated in their time in Government in relation to the importance of flexible working. He also set out Scope’s recommendation for a new form of flexible adjustment leave that would significantly benefit disabled people in employment, calling for this to be included in the final Liberal Democrat manifesto for 2015.

Scope also attended a range of fringe events and private roundtable meetings with Norman Lamb and Paul Burstow, discussing the importance of person-centred care and how the integration of the health and social care systems could be used to benefit the lives of disabled people. Scope also met with Polly Mackenzie, the Senior Policy and Strategy Adviser to the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, to discuss the policy recommendations that we’d like to see included in the Party’s manifesto.

It was another busy few days that wrapped up what has been an extremely successful conference season for Scope and the Care and Support Alliance.

Awake in bed

Tips for a good night’s sleep

If you’re having tears before bedtime, why not check out these great tips from Scope’s sleep practitioners, all taken from our recent Q and A on the online community.

Consistency is key

If your child wakes in the night, return them to bed, tuck them in and say, “It’s night time (name) go to sleep”. Don’t enter into any discussions or negotiations.

Social story

If your child has learning disabilities and has troubles settling or sleeping, especially if they are scared of having bad dreams, try using a social story explaining what dreams are and that nightmares are just bad dreams.

Natural wakings

We all wake naturally four to five times a night. Once we have learned to sleep, we don’t wake fully during these natural wakings. One of the common reasons a child will wake fully is because the conditions have changed – for example,  if you were with them when they fell asleep, then vanished.

Family photo

Try putting a family photo in your child’s room, as that can be comforting for natural night wakings.

Smells like mum

Child sleepingTry putting your own pillow case on your child’s pillow, as the scent will be comforting.

No controlled crying

We don’t advocate controlled crying as an approach as it’s too emotional for parent and child, and only makes your child over stimulated.

Golden hour

There is a ‘golden hour’ before bedtime.  If your child is lying in bed for too long before bedtime, they will not associate bedroom with sleep. If their bedtime routine is too short they will be too awake.

Keep it boring

Children come up with some fantastic distraction techniques to avoid going back to bed at night! If your child asks for a drink, offer water. If they’re thirsty they’ll drink it. If not, they’ll get tired of being given a boring drink after a couple of nights and stop asking.

No vanishing acts

Make sure your child is awake when you kiss goodnight. If you stay while they fall asleep and then sneak out, it will only upset them when they wake naturally in the night and you have vanished.

Start earlier

Children reading a book in bedIf your child is taking a long time to fall asleep, start their bedtime routine earlier, so they associate bed with sleep.

Give it time

It can take two weeks for a child to learn a new behaviour, so consistency is key to whatever approach you take. Parents who say they’ve ‘tried everything’ may not have given each approach long enough.

Sleep diary

It is not uncommon for children with cerebral palsy to wake frequently at night because they become stiff or experience pain, and need repositioning. Using a sleep diary and hypnogram can help you work out when to do it so your child is in a deeper stage of sleep and you don’t fully wake them.

Gradual changes

Disability can be exhausting and many disabled children need extra sleep. As children get older they will need less sleep, so make gradual changes, say around puberty, moving bedtime by 15 minutes every 3 days.

Special teddy

Try keeping a teddy that belongs to you close to you for several days, then allowing your child to look after it over night and return it to you in the morning. This can act as reassurance that you will be there in the morning because you will need your teddy back.

Gradual exit

Mother checking on child sleepingIf your child gets comfort from you being there while he/she goes to sleep at night, try making a gradual exit. Start by sitting on the bed holding their hand with a glove on, removing yourself gradually over 2/3 weeks leaving them with the glove.

Hold off the lavender

Too much lavender can prevent the production of melatonin, so don’t overdo lavender in the bath before bed. Make sure bath is half an hour before bedtime, giving time for your child’s body temperature to drop.

Wind down time

Start preparing your child for sleep an hour before bedtime, turning off the TV, computer etc, and doing some reading or fine motor activities which will help with relaxation and the production of melatonin.

For more great tips and ideas, why not see what other parents have tried. Check out our fab new sleep tips section.

Envelope with heart drawn on it

A love letter to Access to Work

I’m writing a love letter to a Government policy initiative… I may be the first person to do so!

However the support I have receive through Access to Work (AtW) is so important to me that I feel compelled to say how much I love it.

When I relocated to London from Ireland in the mid-1990s, to work at the BBC as an advisor on disability employment, there was no accessible transport. I had to take taxis everywhere.

Early in my career, I didn’t have a lot of money and I used my credit card to pay for taxis, which meant running up a huge bill. I seldom went out, and reduced my heating and grocery bill to help pay travel costs.

It was a tough time, but I’d studied hard and relocated and was determined to remain in work.

When I started a new job in 1998 at RADAR as policy lead on independent living, a disabled colleague told me about AtW – a scheme which had been set up by Government in 1994, to help meet the additional costs a disabled employee might face as a result of their disability.

I applied to the scheme and finally got some funding for my travel costs. It was wonderful!

AtW enables me to travel to and from work via a wheelchair-accessible taxi.

I live in a part of London not well-served by accessible public transport. I have tried many, many times to use public transport to go to work, but this has proved very difficult and involves taking three buses, as no local tube stations are accessible.

As a wheelchair user, it is difficult and at times impossible to take a bus at rush hour. Anyone who knows me will say I am no shrinking violet, but I find it very challenging to get passengers to make space for me in the designated wheelchair space.

Getting three buses to work takes two hours each way. The reliability of bus ramps is also not good – in one week, the bus ramps were faulty on half the journeys I took!

It is fair to say that the fund has transformed my working life.

Thousands of other disabled employees have been able to remain in and progress in work thanks to the scheme.

In 2013/14 over 35,000 disabled people received support. For some, this will be a one-off cost of an adaptation or piece of equipment. For others it will mean ongoing support, such as transport or sign language interpreter.

In recent months, I have heard of very worrying cases of people having had their AtW support removed, causing great stress and concern.

In one case, a person’s spouse was required to attend work with them to act as their interpreter, as funding for this support was withdrawn.

Actress Julie Fernandez has also recently blogged about her experiences of cuts to her AtW funding.

These stories really worry me.

I wouldn’t be in work now without the help of Access to Work. It is one of the most progressive Government initiatives on work and disability. In her review into disability employment support, Liz Sayce described it as the “best kept secret in Government”.

Too often disabled people are invisible in society and in the work place. How many disabled people are in your work place? How many more could be there if they had support through Access to Work?

We want to show MPs how important #AccesstoWork is for thousands of disabled people in work. We’d love to hear why it’s so important for you.

(Photo by Peter Hellberg)

A wrapped gift with ribbon

It’s a wrap!

Post from Sanchia, Gifts in Wills Fundraiser at Scope.

Wow, what an exciting gifts in wills week!

Thanks to everyone who sent us pictures of their prized possessions. We have had some interesting and heartfelt submissions on social media, here are some of our favourites:

Rose and I have been busy visiting Scope shops on the south coast and in North Yorkshire and were so impressed with the amazing prized possession in-store shop displays.

Staff at the Ripon shop presented their prized possessions in a glass cabinet for customers to see. Some of the possessions included a pocket watch and the complete illustrated works of Lewis Carroll!

Glass cabinet filled with the staff own prized possessions in Ripon shop

The Ilkley shop has celebrated gifts in wills week too, visit their Facebook page to see their prized possessions

This week isn’t the only time to think about gifts in wills. They are so important to Scope and you can make or update your will at any point to include a gift to us.

Find out more about how you can leave a gift in your will to Scope.

See you next year!

Improving disabled people’s living standards at the Conservative Party Conference

Scope’s political conference season continued in Birmingham this week with the Conservative Party Conference. This gave us another chance to keep pushing on Scope’s priorities to improve the lives of disabled people in the areas of extra costs, employment and social care. We’ve already made a lot of progress, and we want to see warm words become promises enshrined in political manifestos before the election.

Once again, Scope was heavily involved in the activity of the Care and Support Alliance (CSA) and on Sunday evening Scope’s Chief Executive, Richard Hawkes, was on a panel with the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt MP, to discuss how social care can decide the outcome of the General Election. The panel was again chaired by Anushka Asthana from Sky News and Richard and Jeremy were joined on the panel by the Associate Director of YouGov, Anthony Wells. A packed room heard a fascinating debate on a range of social care issues.

CSA

Beforehand we met with Cabinet Office Minister, Oliver Letwin, to outline the importance of social care to disabled people, older people and carers and to urge him to prioritise social care in the Conservative Party manifesto.

The CSA exhibition stand was again up and running – this time visited by a number of important Cabinet Ministers including Iain Duncan Smith MP.

Ian Duncan Smith at the CSA stand

But if social care and integration with the NHS was the biggest story at Labour conference, welfare changes formed most of the commentary at the Conservative conference.

When announcing a freeze in the uprating of working age benefits, the Chancellor made it clear that he would protect ‘disability benefits’. Whilst this did not include the uprating of those receiving ESA on the WRAG group, it was an important statement from George Osborne that the value and uprating of PIP and DLA would be protected. Scope was pleased to welcome this protection, which has been a central ask to all political parties for the next election. We will be pushing all political parties to do the same and protect the value of PIP.

Scope again hosted an event with the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) and this time we were joined by the Minister for Disabled People, Mark Harper MP, and Mark Hoban MP the former Minister for Employment.

Whilst the event focused on employment, it was very encouraging to hear the Minister talk about lots of the work that Scope has been doing including extra costs, employment, social care and attitudes towards disabled people. Mark Hoban spoke in great detail about the time he visited Scope’s Employment Service, First Impressions, and there was a very useful discussion about how organisations can work together to improve the opportunities for disabled people in work.

Panel at the CSJ event

As well as these important events, Scope met with a number of MPs to continue to push on the range of commitments that we are urging all political parties to make in the run up to the General Election.

Finally, this Conservative Conference was to be William Hague’s last as a Conservative MP – he claims it is his 40th conference… In his final speech to the conference hall he referred to his role when Minister for Disabled People in bringing in the Disability Discrimination Act as one of his proudest achievements…

We’ll be in Glasgow for the Lib Dem conference next week – a bit further from home, but another busy schedule awaits!

Five-of-us

The Five of Us by Quentin Blake

Drawing of a boy using a walker and a catDisabled children can often go through their early years never seeing or experiencing anyone else with the same impairment. They can feel that they are the only person in the world like themselves, and it can be an incredibly isolating experience for a child.

A few years ago, Scope launched the In the Picture campaign, which aimed to raise awareness of this issue, and to get children’s illustrators and authors to start including disabled characters in their books.

Quentin Blake was one such illustrator who got involved in the project, and he created three illustrations for the In the Picture exhibition, which has toured around many locations in the UK in recent years.

The Five of Us book coverBlake has also just released his own children’s book, The Five of Us, which he wrote and illustrated.

It instantly looks and feels familiar, the front cover greeting us with the muted colours and scrawling style of characters that we all know and love from Roald Dahl books.

The story is short and simple: five friends go on a day trip to the countryside. They are all unique in their own way, and each has a special talent. Ollie can hear noises from really far away, Simona is really strong – but the point is that these skills are celebrations of what each child can do really well.

The combination of abilities in each of the friends means they can all support each other to get the best out of their adventure, and to see and experience things from new perspectives. It also helps them come together and work as an amazing team when disaster strikes.

No mention is given to the fact that the friends have a mixture of visible, and perhaps some invisible impairments. And that’s just how it should be.

It’s a great reminder that all children are unique and that’s what makes them so special.

If you would like to win a copy of Quentin Blake’s new book – leave a comment below, or tweet us with the name of your favourite book and tell us why – especially if it has a disabled character!

Scope exists to make this country a place where disabled people have the same opportunities as everyone else. Until then, we'll be here.

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