I love helping people get things sorted out – #100days100stories

Jackie O’Kelly is a Scope regional response worker for the midlands. Here she shares a typical working day, as part of our 100 days, 100 stories project.  

6.45am I’m up making breakfast , feeding the cat and driving my teenagers to the bus stop for school, then it’s off to work.

I’m able to work remotely at an office in my elderly mum’s house, which is fantastic as I can make sure she’s okay at the same time.

9.00am I’m answering half a dozen emails which came in overnight.

9.30am I get a call from the Scope Helpline letting me know about a referral – I get 15-20 new ones a month. I ring to introduce myself, and we arrange a home visit for later in the week.

I’m working with about 20 people at any time, and lots will keep in touch for months or years as they face new difficulties.

10.30am I make a quick phone call to check in with George, a disabled man who’s applying for Personal Independence Payment (PIP). I’m worried he might be turned down for the mobility payments he really needs, so we’re working together on his application.

11.45am Squeezing in a few more emails. One of the most important parts of my job is pointing people to the right information, whether it’s about their impairment, benefits, local support or funding for home adaptations.

1.00pm A visit to meet Sarah, a mum whose four-year-old boy has just been diagnosed with cerebral palsy. She’d been told for years that nothing was wrong despite her worries, and she’s very upset.

A lot of the work I do is with parents who have a child newly diagnosed as disabled, and this is very much where my expertise lies. I primarily worked in paediatric care when I was an occupational therapist before joining Scope.

Sarah and I talk about the different forms of cerebral palsy and where she can get support. The diagnosis was a real shock and I’m not sure it’s sunk in yet. I’ll get back in touch in a week, and she’s got my details in case she needs me.

3.00pm Back to the office to check on a few more cases.

I’ve been with Scope for 17 years, and a lot has changed in that time. But the needs of disabled people and their families have remained very much the same – the need for information, advice and support.

4.15pm I’m on the phone chatting to a mum about her daughter, who has autism, and she says she’d like to meet some other parents of disabled children.

Luckily I know a dad nearby whose daughter also has learning difficulties. I give him a ring, and he’s happy for me to pass on his number.

5.00pm A last-minute referral comes through – a family with two young disabled kids desperately needing respite care. I spend an hour ringing round different agencies, and decide this needs to be referred to social services. I’ll keep in touch to see if there’s anything I can do.

6.00pm Check my mum’s settled for the evening, then it’s home for dinner with the family and a bit of trashy TV! Working with people going through such difficult times can be draining, but I love helping people get things sorted out. It doesn’t feel like work at all.

For free, independent and impartial emotional support or disability advice, contact Scope’s free helpline on 0808 800 3333 or email helpline@scope.org.uk

Find out more about our 100 days, 100 stories campaign, and read the rest of our stories so far

What Netbuddy did next – one year on

Last year, the popular online community, Netbuddy merged with Scope to help create our new online community. One year on, we asked former Netbuddies what they thought of Scope’s new community. Did we get it right?

Switching to something new is never easy, so we knew there may be some resistance to moving Netbuddy over to Scope. Sure enough, most former Netbuddies haven’t checked out the new community yet. Ouch! However, undeterred, we went to find out what we can do to encourage former Netbuddies to join.

What did people like most about Netbuddy?

It was easy to use, 73 per cent said. While just over half told us they found Netbuddy members helpful and supportive. We hope we’ve created a helpful environment on our new community and are working hard to make the site as easy to use as possible. If you’d like to meet some of the members, we now have a special welcome group for people to introduce themselves.

Many people liked the newsletter. We regular send emails about the online community and have now added the option to sign up to this, even if you don’t want to join the community. Just enter your email address and tick the online community box on our sign up form.

What you liked about Netbuddy

What did people use most at Netbuddy, we wanted to know? Not surprisingly, 72 per cent said the tips. After that, the forums came second at 35 per cent. 

What you used most at Netbuddy

What would encourage people to join the Scope community?

We asked people who hadn’t used the Scope community what issues they may have had and what we could do to encourage them to join. The overwhelming response (70 per cent) was that people hadn’t had the time. We understand how busy life can be, so we’ll continue to work hard at making our community easy to use and accessible on mobiles and tablets so it can be used anytime to fit in with hectic schedules.

Interestingly, 17 per cent told us they didn’t know Scope was for all disabled people and their families, offering support to people with learning disabilities as well as physical impairments. 34 per cent wanted to see more content about learning disabilities. We’re always looking at ways of increasing the topics covered on the forum. You may like to join our popular parents and carers group and our learning disabilities and autism group. We also have a number of community advisors with expertise in learning disabilities. If there’s a topic or question that you’d like covered, you can post on the community and we’ll do our best to find you the answer.

12 per cent said they liked and trusted Netbuddy. We like you too, which is why we’d love to see you on the new community!

Would any of these encourage you to join the new online community?


What do people want to see on the Scope community?

It was encouraging to hear that 86 per cent were interested in tips. Our tips enjoy pride of place on the new community, and we’ve added several new features which Netbuddy members suggested. Now, you can add comments to tips, thank people for suggestions and share them on social media.

Many said that they were interested in professional advice. We’re lucky to have most of the Netbuddy’s site experts on our new community as community advisors, they’re now joined by new advisors  including members of the wonderful Scope helpline, and of course our community champions who come from all walks of life.

Some of the things our new community has, which you’ve told us interest you


Thank you

So, thank you to all of you who took part in our survey – including Lucy Scott-Watson, who won our prize draw for £50 Amazon vouchers.

You’ve given us lots of great ideas for topics you’d like to see covered on the community and campaigns you’d like us to get involved with. We hope to see more of you joining the community in the coming year!

Join us on the new online community today! For more information about the survey please email community@scope.org.uk