Look, Smile, Chat

Hello, my name is Lucy. I’m the Head of Young People’s participation at the National Deaf Children’s Society. I’ve been asked by Scope to tell you about our exciting new campaign called Look, Smile, Chat.

We want to make it easier for deaf teenagers to interact with their hearing classmates and create a sense of common understanding. Look, Smile, Chat aims to ease the social isolation experienced by some deaf teenagers by putting hearing teenagers in the shoes of their deaf classmates and giving them simple steps to make communicating easy.

We’ve created free resources, including short films, lesson plans and posters for professionals working with young people to raise awareness of the challenges facing deaf teenagers and we would love your support to promote them. We’re asking for your help to tell teachers, social workers and other professionals about the campaign and how they can help to improve the lives of the UK’s 45,000 deaf children using our online resources.

For further information and to access the free resources, go to the Look, Smile, Chat website.

by Lucy Read, National Deaf Children’s Society

Talk about employment

Orchard Manor stand

Alex and Marlon from Scope’s Orchard Manor transition service were supported to attend an event called Talk about Employment at St Ives Corn Exchange. This day was designed to bring together young disabled people, their families, employers and support organisations to talk about work experience and employment opportunities and issues in Cambridgeshire.

This event was the second chapter of the multi-agency work that Orchard Manor began with our colleagues in other organisations last year. It followed on from the Choices4U event that Marlon and Alex helped to plan.

Over 120 people attended on the day. Alex was on hand as a ‘role model’ for some of the 60 young people who attended, ably supported by Marlon. Alex was able to demonstrate his alternative CV, a Powerpoint that includes short films of him doing voluntary work on reception and being involved in fundraising. The young people also joined in with building their own brick wall naming all the barriers that exist to gaining meaningful opportunities, experiences and employment.

MPs visit Scope charity shops to promote direct donations

Gareth Thomas MP in Scope shop

Scope is one of several major UK charities that have taken part in the Charity Retail Association’s (CRA) national campaign to encourage more people to donate to charity shops.

MPs across the country visited a number of Scope charity shops in their constituencies as part of the CRA’s Choose Charity Shops campaign that ran from 14-18 May.

Among them were the Rt Hon Harriet Harman (see right), MP for Camberwell and Peckham, who met Scope’s Dawn Drake on Friday 18 May. She said:Harriet Harman MP in Scope shop

“I would like to thank Dawn Drake and the volunteers who welcomed me to Scope on Peckham High Street today. Scope and other charity shops rely on donations from the public. So I encourage everyone to clear their wardrobes and cupboards of unwanted clothes, books and household items and donate them to Scope or their nearest charity shop.”

On their visits Hugh Bayley, MP for York Central, and Gareth Thomas, MP for Harrow West both stressed the centrality of charity shop donations to the overall funding received by charities. Hugh Bayley MP said:

“Many charities have had their funding cut or withdrawn because of the spending squeeze by central Government. This has happened at a time when many of them are facing increasing demand for their services. Most charities are short of money and they depend on members of the public donating cash or good-quality items which they can sell in their shops. Lots of people have clothes which they do not wear or else they have unwanted gifts which do not see the light of day. A bag of unwanted clothes can be worth about £20 to a charity such as Scope and this can pay for valuable services for people in need.”

Gareth Thomas MP (see top of page) echoed these concerns when he visited his Scope store to make a donation of books. He said that charity shops are the “heart of the high street”. He added: “They are a sustainable way for charities to raise much-needed revenue in the face of unprecedented cuts in Government funding. Research by the Charity Retail Association demonstrates the enormous generosity towards and support for charities, including in communities like Harrow.”Gordon Henderson MP in Scope shop

Gordon Henderson MP (see right)for Sittingbourne and Sheppey, has also taken part in the campaign. Visiting the recently refurbished Scope charity shop in Sittingbourne, he called upon his constituents to donate: “I was happy to donate some of my old clothing to Scope and I would encourage my constituents to have a rummage through their wardrobes and do the same.”

Recent figures released by the CRA, the UK trade association for charity shops, state that more people than ever are increasingly using charity shops. They estimate that 22 per cent of people in the UK are shopping in charity shops more frequently now than a couple of years ago, and nearly one in five (19 per cent) customers saying they would buy even more from charity shops in the next 12 months.

Scope depends on the revenue it receives from its network of charity shops to be able to deliver its high-quality services for disabled people.

Andrew Adair, director of retail at Scope, said: “Donations are the life-blood of our shops. Without them we simply could not survive or raise the vital funds we need for our work with disabled people and their families. I’d like to personally thank everyone who donates their clothes, books, music and household items to Scope. Wherever possible, we would encourage everyone to bring their donations directly into a Scope charity shop. It’s only through being sold in our shops that they will raise the most possible funds for our vital work.”

Scope is looking forward to building on the success of the Choose Charity Shops campaign and hopes that people will be encouraged to continue to donate and make use of Scope’s charity shops.

Full details about the CRA’s campaign can be found at www.choosecharityshops.org

For more information about Scope’s involvement in this campaign please contact the Scope media team on 020 7619 7200 or press-pr@scope.org.uk.

Ann’s fostering story

As part of Fostering Fortnight, Ann (not her real name) was interviewed by BBC Radio Suffolk breakfast show hosted by Terry Baxter.

listen to the interview part 1

listen to the interview part 2

How did you get involved in the Scope scheme in the first place?

Well, fostering is something I thought about for a long time before I started looking into it. I’ve worked with adults with leaning difficulties for quite a long time. I have a colleague who did respite care, and it’s just something I thought maybe I could really do. I love being a mum and one day I decided to research it on the internet and… here we are today.

Now I’m sure there are tremendous rewards in fostering individuals, young people, with particularly disabilities, but there also must be challenges as well, and some would say it’s not an easy option to go for. Tell me why you specifically looked to get involved in this particular area of fostering?

I decided to care for disabled children, because I had so much experience of working with people with learning difficulty. I just felt quite passionate about it really and I just wanted to make a difference to a child’s life.  I loved the idea of giving a child new opporunity and experiences. I just thought it would be a really good thing to do!

Clearly it is; it’s a wonderful thing to do, how long have you been doing it?

I started fostering the little girl I care for now, 2½ years ago and she’s now a permanent placement. We have to have it go to panel for permanence residency, and so she will be staying with us until she reaches adulthood.

And in terms of what is brought to your home, can you describe that?

She’s just brilliant, the whole family loves her and on a day-to-day basis, it’s just like caring for my own children. I’ve got two children aged eight and five, and she’s nine.

She’s brought brilliant things to this family. It is the most rewarding thing that we’ve ever done. Before she came into care, she was described as passive, an empty shell – like she was in a world of her own. People said it was like she wasn’t there. Now she’s described as confident, sociable, full of it and we’ve had such brilliant feedback. People thank us and say whatever you are doing, keep on doing it! Having that sort of feedback makes me and my husband feel brilliant. My children accepted her straight away, and they’re like proper sisters.

Thanks great, I was going to talk about your children. It’s great for the adults in the household to decide to do this, the children tend to go along with it as well. It’s fantastic to hear it’s been a very smooth operation in terms of your children accepting your additional child.

Yes, definitely. I think when she first came to us, my little one was only two and my other child was six. And because they were quite young, they just accepted her straight away, you know with older children it might be a little more difficult, I don’t know, but in my experience they accepted her straight wawy. They love her to bits, and she’s just like a proper sister.

And I can hear it in your voice that she is a very strong part of your family! If people are listening to this, and have a feeling towards fostering children with disability, what advice would you give them?

All you need is to have the right attitude. You don’t have to worry about what experience you have. It’s about having a caring attitude, and you need a spare bedroom. I think, if you’re thinking about doing it, enquire and talk to someone and think about it, because it really is in your reach. All I can say is it’s the best decision me and my husband ever made, and we’ve loved it.

What about Scope? How much help have they been able to provide? Have they been a support for you?

Yes, we have a Scope social worker, and she supported us through the assessment process, because it takes a few of months to be assessed to become a carer. They are always on the other end of the phone if you need advice, support you, talk through any problems. We have monthly supervisions. We also get our training through Scope. They also do things like; they sorted out and funded alterations we needed to our house before our child was placed with us. There are regular foster carer support groups that are organised by Scope where carers can all get together and share their experiences and advice and just have a chat.

So, it sounds like they are there all the way through the process for you?

Oh yeah, they’re brilliant. The support they give you is really very good.

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. Good luck, it sounds like you’ve got a fantastic family there and thank you for sharing your experiences with us.