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!

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!

The 5 most unusual gifts left to Scope

Gifts in wills are Scope’s prized possessions. Without them much of our important work wouldn’t happen, as a quarter of our fundraised income comes from these special gifts. Supporters who leave them to us share our vision to make this country a better place for disabled people.

We see many wonderful gifts pass through people’s wills to their loved ones. These range from gifts such as jewellery and photograph collections, to items like china dish sets and nativity scenes. We have even seen some very personal keepsakes such as original sheet music and manuscripts.

We have been lucky enough to benefit from some extraordinary and unusual gifts left to Scope over the years. Read on to see the top 5 memorable gifts left to us:

  1. The Grand Piano

We were left a baby grand piano by a resident who lived on the same road as our head office. It was valued at a generous £10,000, although we did have to try and figure out how to get it out of the basement it was in.

  1. The swimming pool

In the 1960s a will was written leaving £100 to build a swimming pool for our beneficiaries. By the time the supporter passed away, aged 106, inflation had left the income a little short of that needed to build a pool, although the gift was still gratefully received and put to good use.

  1. The doll collection

One supporter decided to kindly leave her collection of dolls to Scope in her will. Gifts such as these are welcomed in our retail shops, or can be sold so the funds are used to help disabled people and their families.

  1. The music royalties

One of our supporters, a TV and radio star in the 1950s, left us the royalties from his shows in his will. The gift that keeps on giving; we still receive cheques whenever his material is aired.

  1. Two plots of land in the Bahamas

Two jetsetting supporters left us plots of land they owned in the Bahamas. Holiday rights not included!

What’s your prized possession? Let us know in the comments, or tweet us at @Scope where we will share our favourites.

To learn more about gifts in wills, please feel free to contact the legacy team.