“It’s characters like Craig who are the true role models our society and generation needs”

Guest blog by Ellie Hetebrij, a photojournalism student. Ellie was inspired to capture Paralympic cycling hopeful, Craig Green, training for Rio 2016 after reading his story as part of our 100 days, 100 stories campaign.  

My background in photography is in sport and extreme training. This year I have started following Paralympic hopefuls and disabled athletes for what I hope will be an ongoing project about what it takes to win a place to compete at Rio.

Craig training on an indoor static bikeI first came across Craig Green when I read an article about him on Scope’s website as part of the 100 Days, 100 Stories campaign. While reading it, I couldn’t help but be inspired by him – he had risen above the obstacles life had thrown at him and sounded so determined.

I don’t think that I had any preconceptions about disabled athletes. I’m incredibly inspired by what Craig and the others I’m documenting do. The way in which Craig turned his life around is Craig pumping up his bike tyreswhat I found incredibly inspiring; to me it’s characters like Craig who are the true role models our society and generation needs.

In all inspiring people’s stories there is always an event where the main character lands in trouble. But this is where Craig’s story really begins, although it may sound hard to believe, it would seem that the day Craig went to jail is the day his life changed for the better.

Craig training in the velodromeCraig was born with Poland Syndrome, a condition affecting his right hand and pectoral muscles. When he left school, he was told that his hand would stop him following his friends into a trade like bricklaying or the Army. In need of money, he found work on a cannabis farm and in June 2010 was sentenced to four years in prison for conspiracy to cultivate a class B drug.

Craig putting his bike helmet onThis proved to be a turning point. He spent his free time getting fit and volunteering at the prison gym and then the Peterborough YMCA community gym, which he now manages. He got hooked on cycling after a successful trial for the British cycling team after attending an event showcasing Paralympic sports.

He now trains six days a week and is a C5 paracycling hopeful for the Rio Paralympics in 2016. The Rio qualifiers are coming up in September and he needs scores and points from this season’s competitions and the World Cup Series to win a sport on Team GB.

Craig is a truly inspiring and humble character. It has been a pleasure working alongside him in his pursuit of the Paralympics. Craig is very passionate about cycling and trains incredibly hard. I hope to continue documenting his journey towards the 2016 Paralympics in Rio.Group of cyclists in motion

Ellie is a second year student studying for a press and editorial photography degree at Falmouth University. The images of Craig are part of her coursework. 

Craig is taking part in Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 2015 for Scope this August. Follow him on Twitter  for updates.

Scope is proud to be charity of the year for Prudential Ride London-Surrey-100 2015. Join our team with free entry before 13 May to cycle 100 miles through London and Surrey. All riders will receive a limited edition cycling jersey and a hero’s reception at the finish. Public entries are now closed and the only way to join the event is with Scope. Join now! 

Deaf awareness week – we want subtitles for ‘on demand’ and catch-up’ TV and film!

Johanna Taylor is a Senior Campaigner at Action on Hearing Loss, where she works on campaigns to improve access to TV and digital entertainment, protect NHS hearing aid services and to introduce a national hearing screening programme.

Here she explains why subtitling is so important, as part of Deaf Awareness Week. 

Ed Miller Band instead of Ed Miliband. Ayatollahs instead of toddlers. When we see subtitles in the news, the topic is most likely to be live subtitling ‘howlers’ like these – but they’re not so amusing for people with hearing loss who rely on subtitles to follow dialogue and plot.

“I, and others like me, should have the freedom of choice to watch and enjoy programmes in the same way as everyone else, on any device at any time, with subtitles and audio descriptions provided as standard – and we deserve this choice sooner rather than later.” Tania Le Marinel, hearing aid wearer

Johanna has dark hair, wears glasses and is smiling in front of a Action on Hearing Loss bannerAt Action on Hearing Loss subtitling is the issue that people most get in touch with us about, with inaccuracies and delays being a source of massive frustration. But there’s more going on behind the scenes to improve things than these news stories might suggest.
We have long been campaigning to improve the quality of subtitles, and in 2013 there was a breakthrough when Ofcom announced that it would be launching a two year review of the quality of live subtitling. This has led to closer partnerships between broadcasters, production and subtitling companies and increased sharing and use of scripts to reduce delays and improve accuracy, particularly in programmes like the news.

We’ve also seen a reduction in the number of programmes going out with live subtitles that could have been prepared in advance – the BBC recently revealed to us that while 155 pre-recorded programmes were subtitled live in 2013, 2014 saw this figure almost halved.

Broadcasters playing ‘catch up’ with catch up TV

But what happens when someone with hearing loss wants to get up to speed on the soaps using ‘catch up’ TV or enjoy a streamed film?

The answer? They often can’t. A major factor in this is that unlike traditional TV accessibility of Video on Demand (VOD) services are not covered by legislation, meaning there is no obligation on providers to include subtitles.

While the BBC is leading the way and offering subtitles on iPlayer across thousands of devices and platforms, they are the exception. This is unacceptable to viewers with hearing loss who feel like they are receiving a second class service.

A report by the regulator the Authority for Television on Demand (ATVOD), shows that no subtitles can be found on the ITV player, 4oD or Demand 5 when shown on popular television platforms such as Sky, Virgin and BT Vision (YouView), who have a combined UK customer base of over 14 million people. The same report shows that over 96% of Sky’s ‘on demand’ content has no subtitles.

Subtitle it! Whatever we watch, however we watch it.

But there’s an important opportunity on the horizon for the Government to take action to improve access for the UK’s 7.5 million subtitle users.

Back in July 2013 the Department for Culture Media and Sport promised to consider legislation on access services for video on demand three years from then if it is clear that progress is not being made – and in 2016 it’s crunch time. Access services cover audio description for those with sight loss as well as subtitles for those with hearing loss.

In response to this opportunity we’ll be launching a new campaign which will call on Government and broadcasters to “Subtitle it! Whatever we watch, however we watch it”. With the help of our supporters, after the election we’ll be calling on the new Minister responsible for broadcasting to set progress targets. And if no progress has been made by this December – when ATVOD’s next report is due out – we will be strengthening our call for legislation.

Do you rely on subtitles, or do you know someone who does? Please join the Subtitle it! campaign today. Thank you for your support.

“I wasn’t going to do it for charity this year. But I saw Scope is the official charity – it made sense!”

On 2 August more than 15,000 amateur riders will take to the streets of London and Surrey for the third Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 – a 100 mile route on closed roads.

700 of those will be taking part for Scope as part of our official charity of the year team, and one of those is Carl. He knows the route having taken part in 2014 and will be hoping the sun shines, unlike last year!

“Box Hill was okay. But Leigh Hill was shut, we had to go down a diversion because of the weather and that was horrendous. So I’m hoping it’s not like that!” A keen cyclist, he’s often out with his friends testing themselves on the local hills. But there’s nothing quite like event day. “I think if you ride for a charity, the support you get on the day is fantastic. I rode with a couple of friends who weren’t riding for charity and they were completely in awe of us getting cheered on.”

Carl’s reason for taking part is his nephew. Connor was born prematurely and has cerebral palsy. Connor’s mum, Lauren, explained how they initially found out about his diagnosis through their physiotherapist. “One day I got asked to fill in some forms – I asked her for help because it asked what was wrong with him and I didn’t quite know what to say. She just said “well it’s cerebral palsy” but nobody had actually told us that. We were quite shocked. We just thought it was because he was premature, that he would catch up.”

Connor has received fantastic support from the local community. His first play group had a sensory room and it was here that he first walked – a great milestone when the family had been warned he probably wouldn’t walk or talk. “He walked properly. He was nearly three when he started, the same week as his cousin who was one.”

The family first came across Scope when they were looking for help choosing Connor’s secondary school – the local authority recognised that Connor was bright and wanted to place him in a mainstream school. But Lauren and her husband, Kevin, felt that Connor progressed more with one to one support at a specialist school. Connor went on to prove them wrong, attending the local secondary school and gaining good results in his GCSEs. From speaking to Scope and another charity called Network 81, they were able to encourage the school to make the alterations Connor needed for his education, including having his lessons on the ground floor instead of up two flights of stairs. But now, the real work begins – deciding what Connor should do once he leaves college. Connor is keen to get involved in a local community project, the Harwich Mayflower project, where he can socialise and discuss doing an apprenticeship.

Cricket posterWhen Carl saw that Scope were the official charity for this year’s Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100, he felt it made sense to do the full 100 mile route with us. “Technically I didn’t complete it last year. It was 87 miles; it wasn’t 100 (due to the weather) so I felt a bit of a cheat.” He’ll be continuing his training and fundraising over the next few months, including a cricket night called Essex Legends, hosted at a local venue.

There’s still time to be a part of Scope’s Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 team. Get your place today and be treated to a hero’s reception, a massage in our chill out zone and TLC for your bike!