End the Awkward: the story so far

End the Awkward was our first major awareness campaign in many years. We wanted to challenge the awkwardness that two-thirds of people say they feel around disabled people.

All End the Awkward films

It’s been a huge success so far.

Why is this campaign important?

We’ve done research into public attitudes over the last year and found the public tends not to engage with disability issues, and disabled people, because of fear of saying or doing the wrong thing.

Younger people are twice as likely to struggle with this. That’s why we chose to focus on people aged 25-30 who aren’t disabled. Instead of shaming them for ‘doing the wrong thing’, we wanted to say, just relax. If you try to see the person, not just their impairment, you can’t go far wrong.

We realised many people wanted advice that would make them feel more comfortable when talking to a disabled person. Disabled People’s Organisations helped us prepare tips on ending the awkward, covering everyday situations from sport to sex.

Time to launch. What was the response?

In the run-up we tested the campaign with lots of young people and disabled people, but it was still a nail-biting moment as we launched the campaign. How would End the Awkward go down? Would disabled people think it hit the right note? Would people who aren’t disabled find it helpful? Would anyone even care?!

Then End the Awkward launched, and we knew we’d hit on something good, something that resonated with people.

Great comments came tumbling in on Twitter, Facebook and email. Scope’s phones rang off the hook – well, quite a bit.

Here’s a small slice of what people said.

See more End the Awkward tweets

The campaign even went worldwide. We heard from people as far away as Nova Scotia, Singapore and Australia, and saw it tweeted in at least seven languages.

Here are some of the emails we received.

“I think your End the Awkward videos are simply brilliant. It made me laugh and well up at the same time, and just rang very true.”

— Jenny

“I applaud your current TV campaign to help non-disabled people overcome embarrassment and interact with people with disabilities.”

— Jan

“Good choice of people and subjects, making the points very well. As disability is such a touchy subject for so many people, very pleased that Scope are grasping the nettle proactively.”

— Rob

“About time a direct approach was taken to inform people about disability. I was that awkward person until my early 20s!”

— Tony

“What a good idea this is. I think the majority of the time people really want to say or do the right thing but don’t always know what that is so end up avoiding the situation and thereby exclude the person with a disability.”

— Harriet

“I absolutely love your #EndTheAwkward campaign! It’s just what’s needed at the moment!”

— Chloe

Every major news source in the UK, as well as many in other countries, discussed the campaign. Highlights include:

But End the Awkward has not been without controversy. Opposing views included:

It was great to kickstart conversations and it was really good to get the feedback, even where there was a difference of opinion. Several people wrote in with suggested additions or tweaks to our tips content, some of which led to us making improvements.

End the Awkward in numbers

We wanted to spread the word far and wide, to help change attitudes for the better. The signs are it’s working: over 1.5 million people have seen the campaign so far.

  • End the Awkward films have been watched more than 1.3 million times
  • Over 160,000 people have read our tips for ending the awkward
  • More than 65,000 people have taken the quiz to find out how awkward they are
  • Close to 100 stories have appeared in the media, including national, regional and international television, radio, websites and newspapers.

Just the beginning

At times it’s easy to think that our vision of changing society is too big a challenge. Is it really realistic? But what End the Awkward has shown us is that attitudes towards disabled people can change, using a fun, and positive approach.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to take part in the campaign and spread the message. This is just the beginning. Add your name in support of End the Awkward and be the first to hear what happens next.

The Better Care Fund shouldn’t be seen as causing an NHS Funding Crisis – It’s helping to solve it

Newspaper headlines in the last two weeks have carried a number of stories about a funding crisis heading for the NHS. Common amongst these stories is the fact that they identify the transfer of NHS funding into social care as contributing to this ‘black hole’.

What is being referred to here is the creation of the ‘Integration Transformation Fund’ at the Spending Review in July 2013. Since then, it has gained the less technical title – the ‘Better Care Fund’ – in recognition of the Fund’s increased political importance.

Despite the change in title, the principle remains the same: this fund – totaling £3.8bn – is to be made available to Health and Well-being Boards to be spent on better social care for disabled and older people.

It is true that half of this money, £2bn, has been earmarked from the NHS Budget in a bold step that the Government has taken towards the hallowed ground of integrated health and social care services. It was a recognition of the obvious – that social care and hospital care are closely tied together, and we must start to think of them as such. An older or disabled person trapped in a hospital bed because they can’t get the support they need at home is perhaps the simplest illustration of how closely the systems are tied. Indeed, most patients just don’t know there is a difference in the first place.

As such, this £2bn doesn’t have to work hard for its place in the Fund. It’s important to remember that the Fund itself it not a straightforward ‘direct transfer’ from health budgets to social care. Health and Wellbeing Boards have to bid for this money – and there are tight national conditions attached. The most important of these conditions is that the money must be spent in a way that works for both social care and the NHS.

Another condition is that the money must be spent on care support that prevents unnecessary hospital admissions at the weekend.

In other words, by its very design, the Fund has to save the NHS money for it to even be allocated in the first place.

In both the NHS and in local authorities providing social care, there is considerable pressure to deliver more with fewer resources. With the core budgets of local authorities being cut by up to 40%, the social care landscape has had to adapt radically and quickly.

The Better Care Fund offers an incentive to both the NHS and to social care services to work together to innovate. It helps to lay the foundations for a much more integrated system of health and care.

And it must – by its very design – save the NHS money, not send it into financial ruin. If it’s not doing that yet, councils and health teams need to work harder together, not walk away. The government’s right – what’s at stake is better care.