A helpline worker using a computer

2015: a year in the life of Scope helpline

In 2015, the Scope helpline received over 17,000 telephone calls, 5,000 emails and responded to a huge variety of posts on Scope’s online community and social media networks.

People asked about all sorts of things relating to disability, from housing to Motability, from recycling disability equipment to taking part in sport. When we add views of our online help and information, we have supplied answers to over three quarters of a million requests in 2015.

Your top 10 issues at Scope helpline

Apart from wanting to know more about Scope, the top issues people contacted us about were:

Here’s what one happy customer said:

“I would like to personally commend Scope on their thorough, hardworking, professional and caring staff. I emailed many disabled organisations for employment support and Scope was one of the only ones to write a personal, detailed response. I hope you realise how much just being heard and understood by a ‘real person’ instead of receiving an automated response means to somebody living with an isolating disability. I cannot speak highly enough of the helpfulness and kindness of the person who responded to me and the organisation as a whole.”

New information

As well as responding to a wide range of enquiries we also produced lots of new information.

We launched a new video Games All Children Can Play with Walton Children’s Centre in Liverpool and published a Welsh language version of our parent guide, sponsored by GSK.

In the New Year, we are planning to reprint our popular children’s books, including My Brother is an Astronaut and Haylee’s Friends to give away at parent information days.

We have published a wide variety of new online content, including:

Funding the extra costs of disability

In July, we launched a free online benefits checker in partnership with Turn 2 Us. In just a few months, over 3,500 people have checked their benefits entitlements and 2,000 have searched for grants using these free-to-use tools.

“Thanks to your brilliant advice, I have had some fantastic news. I applied for Attendance Allowance with the form on your website and I have been awarded £55.10 per week which will certainly be a big help to us. Thank you.”

Later in the year we launched a new money section in partnership with Money Advice Service. In the New Year, we will build on this with a new consumer rights section with the help of experts from Which? Consumer Rights.

Help us to help you

The enquiries we receive on the helpline help Scope to understand the issues people are facing. With your permission, we can pass on information to our colleagues who use it to inform what campaigns or policy work we need to do.

Motability

Student Charlotte Cureton, who is 18 and a wheelchair user because of spina bifida, told the helpline that without her car she has no independence at all. She was studying for her A levels and learnt to drive on a specially adapted Motability car. Without any face-to-face contact, she heard by letter that her DLA would stop and that she wouldn’t be getting PIP instead. She lost her car as a result and with it her ability to get to and from college on her own. The increased walking caused her pain and made her symptoms worse. She was heartbroken and felt her chance of a future at university was in jeopardy. Following an ITV news report, she received offers of financial and practical help from members of the public. Later, a review of her case at tribunal was successful and she received Enhanced Rate PIP Mobility!

Fit for work?

We also worked with the Daily Mirror to offer advice to people who feel they have been wrongly assessed ‘fit for work’.

We’re always looking for you to share your stories to help us raise awareness of the issues affecting the people contacting us, so please get in touch.

Specialist knowledge

Each member of the helpline team specialises in a certain topic. As well as getting general information on all aspects of living with a disability, you can speak to us in detail about:

  • Benefits and finance
  • Equipment
  • Housing and independent living
  • Employment
  • Early years
  • Cerebral palsy

Our benefits and finance specialists delivered a presentation about welfare benefits and the impacts of welfare reform at the Scope AGM in October. They also answered Scope members’ specific questions and queries about benefits.

In the New Year, we will be recruiting for a new helpline worker to specialise in social care. Watch www.scope.org.uk/jobs for details!

Have a happy Christmas and New Year!

Thank you to everyone who has contacted us in 2015 and may we wish you all a Happy New Year.

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

Read more about how Scope helpline helped one family.