Why we share stories

“Before, I didn’t feel like I was part of the world. I was zoning out a lot because I found it hard to focus. Now everything’s changed. Now, I feel I can do anything. Not quite invincible, but not far off!”

Jamie Love shared his story recently. The young man who goes to Scope’s Craig y Parc school is an aspiring actor. Jamie recently landed his first TV role as an extra on BBC’s Call the Midwife.

Thirty-nine year-old Alice was drinking to cope with the challenge of bringing up her two autistic boys. Then she got involved with Scope’s befriending service.

She wanted to share what it’s like to have disabled children, but also the difference it can make being able to talk to someone that’s been there before.

Alice holding hands with her sons and husband
Alice and her family

Personal stories like those of Jamie and Alice have the power to motivate, educate and inspire.

In 2014 life can be tough if you’re disabled or have a disabled child. Often it’s to do with a lack of understanding – what you might call ‘innocent ignorance’.

So, it’s important to let the world know what life is like if you’re disabled. And it’s really important that disabled people and their families tell these stories themselves.

Two years ago we introduced a new way of telling stories, which we’re really proud of.

Our aim is to make sure everyone here that talks in any way about disability – whether it’s a fundraiser, a campaigner or a front-line social worker, has the chance to include a disabled person or their parent talking talk about the issue in their own words.

We have a stories team of two, plus a network of ‘story champions’ throughout Scope. We do in-depth interviews with a host of people on a range of topics; from mums like Alice and students like Jamie, to Scope staff, volunteers and people who simply inspire us. We transcribe the interviews, make films and get to know our storytellers before encouraging the organisation to work with them if they’re talking about disability.

Angela, David and Ema’s stories inspired thousands to back better local support for disabled people. The moving story of Brett who ran the Brighton marathon wheeling his son Luke dampened eyes across the country and showed not only what’s involved in training for an event, but how Scope makes a difference. A story during Anti-bullying week of a disabled school girl had an incredible online response, as did this blog from Hayley, about raising the funds to buy her three-year-old daughter with cerebral palsy the right wheelchair.

Today marks the start of National Storytelling Week – an annual event celebrating and encouraging storytelling. As Scope’s Stories Manager I’m incredibly privileged to be able to meet many amazing people and I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce some of them to you.

This week we will meet a new mum Marie, who has just had a new baby through a surrogate. Marie has brittle bone disease, meaning her bones break very easily.

Emily Yates, a 22-year-old woman, will share her story of travelling the world in a wheelchair and why writing an accessible guide to the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro means so much to her.

There will be an inspiring story from 19-year-old Michael, who has autism and recently started his dream career in public transport.

Sharing stories is fundamental to Scope achieving its vision of making this country a better place for disabled people, and I hope you enjoy the stories we will bring you this week.

I’ll leave you with the words of Rudyard Kipling: ‘If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.’

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