In October Scope’s Chair Alice Maynard steps down after six years.
Over the coming months we’ll be marking some of the big changes she has overseen.
We kick off today with Alice describing in her own words the highs and lows since 2009.
In her own words…
I’ve been Chair of Scope since 2008. I’m stepping down this year after two terms.
I’m most proud about how we’ve been able to turn the organisation around financially. Scope wasn’t in a great place. It was struggling to be sustainable. But we turned it around. That has given us the strong foundation to develop a bold, unambiguous strategy, and build an organisation ready to deliver it. We want disabled people to have the same opportunities as everyone else. Everything we do – from our care homes to our campaigns – has to reflect how ambitious we are when it comes to disability. But we have to be financially sound to be able to do this.
My background is in the private sector. Hopefully I’ve helped bust the myth that the commercial and voluntary sectors have nothing to learn from each other. We need to keep breaking down the barriers between the two and bringing learning across the divide.
Our relationship with Disabled People’s Organisations has improved. We’ve put time and effort into being an ally. I was privileged to have the launch of DisLIB as my first public event. If you want to see how far we’ve come, you just have to watch our new video on the ‘social model’. We’re a platform disabled people can use to explain in their own words to the public why thinking differently about disability makes all the difference.
We can be proud of ourselves and what we’re trying to do once again. We have helped people understand what it means to be disabled and the positive contribution we can make to society when properly supported (for instance, in managing the extra costs of being disabled).
The Olympic and Paralympic effect which, though patchy and in some ways hard to hang onto, has changed what people think is acceptable – for instance in access provision in the transport system.
In many ways, life for disabled people in 2008 was easier than it is now – it was just before the financial crisis, laws that demanded disabled people should be treated equally were being strengthened. The impact of the recession and austerity on disabled people and their families has been disastrous, taking away dignity and independence.
I think the future is a challenging place. But there are causes for optimism with the advances in technology that help people communicate, and manage their lives in innovative ways. There are real opportunities with the improvements in the built environment. But we are in danger of losing those opportunities if we don’t actively seek to capitalise on them.
People undervalue disabled people. You can see the impact from hate crime at the extreme end, to just not getting jobs because of unconscious bias at the other.
Scope in five years’ time. Stronger, louder, prouder! You can have as many Chairs in an organisation as you like, but without the volunteers, staff and supporters, nothing will happen.
A piece of advice for the new Chair of Scope? Look after Scope well – it’s precious. Keep it true to its mission in everything it does, use its resources wisely, and you can’t go wrong.