25 days of stories – #100days100stories

In the last 25 days we’ve shared disabled people and families’ stories about dating, fostering, finding work and how technology can make such a difference to people’s lives.

We’ve also heard about the extra costs that can quickly add up when you’re disabled, about fighting to get the right support to live independently and people’s attitudes towards hidden disabilities.

We’re publishing one of these stories every day in the 100 days leading up to the general election. And we’re asking parliamentary hopefuls to read just one story, so they better understand disability.

Having an impact

Alex holding her baby close
Alex with her one-year-old Benjamin

Alex’s story about being offered a termination of her unborn son has been one of our most read-blogs ever and has so far been shared more than 2,000 times on Facebook and Twitter.

Alex writes “No one said: ‘There’s a chance he might be happy. There’s a chance he might enrich your lives in ways you never imagined.'”

Craig’s story about turning his life around after a spell in prison to become a Paralympic cycling hopeful was selected as Guardian Society’s ‘pick of the blogs’ a few weeks ago.

“I’m not proud of my past”, says Craig, “but (prison has) certainly shaped me to be the person I am”.

Family ties

Our parent storytellers are fighters. Emily and Virginia are disabled mothers who also have disabled children. They have told us about the hundreds of pounds their families need to spend every week on extra costs.

And Sarah explained how she had to sleep separately to her husband for five years because her disabled daughter wouldn’t sleep alone.

Alice, the mother of two boys with autism, says writing about her experiences in a guide for other parents has given her strength. And disabled mum Marie has explained that being a small mum in a wheelchair has benefits most people wouldn’t think of.

Alice holding her son
Alice and one of her sons

The fight for independence

Disabled filmmaker Tom has told us what it’s been like to go from living at home to being at a transition service in the heart of the city he loves.

We’ve also shared Mandy’s incredible story about her 30-year battle to be heard. Staff caring for her thought she had no awareness of the outside world. When someone finally realised how much she understood, Mandy could start taking control of her life.

Barriers to finding work

Azar looking away from the camera
Azar struggled to find work after college

Our stories have highlighted the barriers disabled people can come up against when job-seeking. 20-year-old Azar struggled to get work after finishing college, but everything has now changed for him.

And Georgina writes about gaining the confidence to start volunteering and applying for jobs after 15 years out of the workforce.

Awkward moments

On Valentine’s Day Jennie Williams, the director of Enhance the UK told us how sex can be awkward when you’re hard of hearing. 22-year-old travel writer Emily revealed how her boyfriend googled ‘how to kiss a wheelchair user’ before asking her out.

“My personal favourite has to be ‘say you want to tell her a secret, then go for it’ with a winky face for added bonus points,” says Emily. “Luckily, he didn’t follow that advice.”

Jennie with her partner Jonno and a dog
Jennie and her partner Jonno

Get involved!

We still have 75 disabled peoples and families’ stories to share until the election on 7 May 2015. We are updating our 100 days, 100 stories page every day with our newest story, as well as sharing them on Twitter and Facebook.

You can also help us raise awareness by sharing a story on Facebook and re-tweeting with our hashtag #100days100stories.

If you would like to share your story as part of our campaign please email stories@scope.org.uk 

Top films that portray disability

We asked our Facebook fans about their favourite films that portray disability. Here are the top suggestions:

My Left Foot

“One of the first films that focused entirely on a disabled character is most probably ‘My Left Foot’directed by Jim Sheridan and starring Daniel Day-Lewis.  I was merely a child slowly discovering the world and found so many aspects of the film that I did not fully understand but I did get from it that disability has its struggles and challenges but with it also comes strength and determination. The film tackled various issues that 26 years ago were considered a taboo such as suicide, love, anti-disabled attitudes and rejection of the disabled.”   – Raya Al-Jadir 

“My Left Foot was the earliest film I remember portraying disability. I remember being amazed at how determined the character was. ” – Libby

Inside I’m dancing

“Since seeing this film in school I fell in love and would recommend it to anyone, Inside I’m Dancing is one of the best films I’ve ever watched for showing both the highs and lows of living with a disability, it was so realistic and well written that when I found out neither of the actors were actually disabled, I was in complete shock!
Inside I’m Dancing takes both the good and bad points of being disabled and adds humour which makes for such a feel good film. Having cerebral palsy myself I believe that people with disabilities should be given the chance to show their amazing talents in the media instead of able bodied actors playing the part of disabled characters.”  – Michelle

The Imitation Game

“Although it’s never stated, I feel the makers of The Imitation Game wanted to portray Alan Turing as someone with an autism spectrum condition. The thing that makes the film extraordinary for me is that they got this so right, while not letting it dominate the story.

Autistic characters are so often portrayed as rude, oblivious and not having emotions. Autistic traits tend to be foregrounded in quirky diversions and gags, while the person’s achievements fade into the background. “Not fitting in” is emphasised to the point that you might think if you’re autistic, you’ll never have any friends. This is depressing, but it’s also untrue.

In The Imitation Game, Turing’s autistic traits are just part of who he is, and crucially, part of what his friends like about him. The highly emotional scenes where young Turing – brilliantly played by Alex Lawther – falls in love with a school friend, are enormously moving. Turing’s special interest in codes is beautifully laced through these heart-wrenching flashbacks, where it becomes a source of meaningful connection, not a freakish curiosity.

The things we struggle with are portrayed too. Being overwhelmed by noise or strong emotions, the lifelong project of understanding what others are feeling and the mysterious world of social rules. At least, this is what I identified with in Turing’s story – each autistic person’s experience will be different.

Despite the tragedy of the story, I left the cinema feeling optimistic. As Temple Grandin says, we need all types of minds.” – Suraya

Four Weddings and a Funeral

“I’ve always liked the character of David, played by deaf actor David Bower, in Four Weddings and a Funeral. Bower plays Hugh Grant’s brother, but the film doesn’t make a big deal of his deafness: the character is neither tragic nor endowed with special gifts. He’s an ordinary person who has a nice, jokey relationship with his brother – and they just happen to communicate in sign language. I love David’s dramatic intervention in the wedding ceremony, where Hugh Grant’s character translates David’s signed words for the congregation, transforming a well-worn cinematic trope into a funny and memorable scene.” – Kim Thomas

Disabled models in the fashion industry – #100days100stories

This is a guest post from disabled model Hayley-Eszti.  She is sharing her story as part of our 100 days, 100 stories campaign

When I was struck down with a severe case of ME in my late teens, I never thought I’d be where I am today. To go from being paralysed, unable to move or talk, reliant on carers, to where I am now – able to campaign for awareness of ME and disability in general, as well as becoming a disabled model, it’s all quite overwhelming.Young woman sitting in a wheelchair on a beach

I remember when I first realised my illness was so severe that I needed to use a wheelchair and mobility aids, it was scary and it was hard to accept. You never expect it to happen to you, especially because I had always been so active growing up, but that’s the thing about the disabled population, it’s the world’s largest minority of which anyone can become part of at any time. The more I began to accept my situation the more I wanted to make a positive out of a negative.

I started to see how under represented we are as a community, particularly within the fashion industry and media. I’ve always had a big interest in fashion, and it angered and upset me that disabled people were rarely, often never considered within advertising and marketing. Online shops, catwalks, even editorials and faYoung disabled woman modelling a white dress, sitting in a wheelchair in a gardenshion photographers were missing out on this huge market. There are over 11 million people with a limiting long term illness, impairment or disability within the UK. All of them need to wear clothes, so the question I always found myself asking was, why was nobody considering such a large group of people?

We need people to look up to, people we can relate to, and we need to see REAL disabled people, no gimmicks or able bodied models posing with some crutches for a couple of hours.

I began campaigning for more disabled models to be used within the fashion industry, and I started creating my own photo shoots which I put on my blog. The response was amazing and I soon started to receive more and more comments from people saying I should look into modelling myself. I’d been campaigning for it, so I thought why not put myself out there and try and become one of the peoYoung woman standing on a beach next to a wheelchairple I so desperately wanted to see being represented and treated equally? We don’t want to be treated differently and we are not asking for special treatment, just to be respected and treated as equals. I’m doing this to show that we are not invisible and we do matter. I want to show that we can still have dreams and fulfill them even if we do have limitations.

Something worth pointing out is that disabled models do have a place and they do resonate with people. A perfect example of this is Scope’s recent Retail stock appeal featuring Jack Eyers, a disabled model. It was their most successful retail appeal, generating 1.2 million donations, whilst also raising the issue of the lack of disabled people in the media and fashion industry. You can’t argue with figures like that.

My hope for the future is for disabled models to be the norm, for new generations to grow up regularly seeing disabled models. It’s time to make a change.

Read more stories and find out how you can get involved in 100 days, 100 stories.