All posts by Alex Hazell

Our top Twitter and Facebook moments of 2013

As we get ready to bring in the New Year we’ve been looking back at what we achieved with your support in 2013. Here are some of the top Twitter and Facebook moments from 2013 that got you liking, commenting and retweeting.

Celebrating achievements

Jack Caroll - text reads: Good luck Jack!

Two of our most popular Facebook posts were about the achievements of two young people with Cerebral Palsy. 14-year-old Jack Carroll hit the headlines in May when he came second in the final of Britain’s Got Talent with his comedy. Our good luck message on Facebook got over 2,000 likes.

In November we shared the news that seven-year-old Holly had been chosen to model in a new campaign for Boden clothing. Holly and her great achievement received over 1,200 likes.

Campaigning and influencing the Government

When MPs started debating the Children and Families Bill in February we wanted to make sure disabled children were not forgotten by Michael Gove, the Secretary for Education. Almost 200 people joined our Thunderclap and thousands of you used the hashtag on Twitter #GoveUsABreak which helped get the message to over 4 million Twitter accounts!

More recently, many of you shared stories of how your child had been excluded from activities in your local area on Facebook. Read the latest news on the Bill from the Council For Disabled Children.

Woman with post-it on mouth which reads: I care

We’ve also been campaigning about social care this year. Our Britain Cares campaign asked people to send in a photo to show that they care about social care for disabled people. Thousands of you have sent in photos, shared the campaign on Facebook and Twitter, and our YouTube video has now had over 180,000 views.

In October, with the Care Bill going through Parliament, we joined with other charities in the Care and Support Alliance to ask “What do you do with yours?” and raise awareness for the importance of social care.

Challenging attitudes towards disabled people

The #HeardWhilstDisabled hashtag is used to share some of the things said to, or overheard by, disabled people. BBC Ouch wrote an excellent story about the hashtag with some of the worst examples such as “Isn’t it lovely to see them out and about?”.

This tweet was sent following the Panorama expose on the Work Programme. Panorama reported that disabled people were referred to as LTBs – lying, thieving bastards. We spoke out about how completely unacceptable this was. Read our full response to Panorama.

In February we were outraged when Councillor Collin Brewer said that “disabled children cost the council too much money and should be put down.” Hundreds of you shared the news, commented on the story and were pleased when we shared the news of his resignation shortly afterwards.

Raising awareness

We’ve also been using Facebook and Twitter to increase awareness for impairments and conditions such as Down Syndrome, Autism and Cerebral Palsy.

For World Down Syndrome Day in March our post sharing Sarah and Phillip’s story on Facebook reached nearly 35,500 people.

For World Autism Awareness day in April we shared a post from Ambitious about Autism asking people to share what ‘Autism is’ to them. Thanks to the support of Keith Duffy, we potentially reached almost 300,000 people on Twitter. 

And for World Cerebral Palsy Day in October we asked you what you thought everyone should know about Cerebral Palsy and summarised your responses in a blog which has been read over 7,000 times.

Thank you for all your support in 2013. If you don’t already you can follow us on Twitter, subscribe to us on YouTube and like us on Facebook.

Top 5 videos challenging attitudes to disability in 2013

As the year draws to a close, we’ve been looking back at the videos which got people talking about disability in 2013. Here are our top 5.

What have we missed? Let us know in the comments below.

#BornRisky Alternative Voices

Channel 4 recruited five people with communication difficulties to join their continuity team in December.  “An estimated 2.5 million people in the UK have some kind of communication impairment. We want to give them a platform and normalise the presence of disabled people on TV by adding fresh, representative voices to the rich diversity of our existing pool of announcers.” Find out more about the campaign and read our guest post from one of the announcers.

Five-year-old signs for parents

Claire Koch from America got the internet smiling when she was filmed enthusiastically signing for her deaf parents during her school Christmas carol performance so that they could fully enjoy it. The film has now been viewed by over 6.3 million people.

Britain’s Got Talent

Jack Carroll, a 14 year old with cerebral palsy, made it all the way to the Britain’s Got Talent final with his unique stand-up comedy style. Unfortunately he didn’t win, but with over 7.1 million views, we’re sure he has a great future in comedy ahead of him.

Guinness advert

A recent Guinness advert has received over 7.8 million views. It’s shows a group playing wheelchair basketball with a great twist at the end. See it for yourself.

People with disabilities react to mannequins

Pro Infirmis, a Swiss disability advocacy organisation created this video showing disabled mannequins as part of their campaign for International Day for People with Disabilities. This beautiful video has received over 8.4 million views.

Here at Scope we’ve been busy creating some fantastic videos too. Our videos about a young disabled girl’s experiences of bullying and of a mother sharing her experiences of caring for two autistic sons shocked many and prompted others to share their own similar stories. We met some inspiration people like Jamie who attended our school in Wales and Brett who ran the Brighton Marathon whilst pushing his son in a wheelchair! We’ve been supported by a number of celebrities; Arabella Weir and Rory Kinnear helped us talk about fostering disabled children; our Britain Cares video was voiced by Stephen Fry; and Paralympian Sophie Christiansen spoke to us about the Paralympics legacy

Nelson Mandela on “the long walk to equality”

In 2004 Scope ran a campaign called “Time to get equal” to raise awareness of the problems and barriers faced by disabled people in their everyday lives. In support of Scope and our campaign, Nelson Mandela sent us this special message:

Nelson Mandela

This is a very special month and period in South Africa. And because the international community contributed so much to bring about the special situation we are celebrating in our country we believe that this is also a special period for the world.

We in South Africa are celebrating a decade of non-racial, non-sexist, non-discriminatory democracy. We went to the polls in our third democratic election just this past week. All of this stood in celebration of our democracy, based on the values of human dignity, the achievement of human equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms.

Under the equality clause in our constitution’s bill of rights we affirm that, and I quote:

“The state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth.”

The constitution continues to affirm that no person may unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more of the grounds mentioned above.

We have striven to give legislative and regulatory content to these founding precepts in our nation-building constitution. We have in this past decade progressed, slow as it may have been, towards living together in the acknowledgement of the basic equality and right to dignity of all human beings.

We have tried to give special emphasis to the rights of people living with disability. It is so easy to think of equality demands with reference primarily to race, colour, religion and gender; and to forget, or to relegate to secondary importance, the vast discrimination against disabled persons.

We cannot claim to have reached anywhere near to where a society should be in terms of practical equality of the disabled. We continue to try. We realise that legislation and regulations are not sufficient or the end of the long walk to equality and non-discrimination. Education, raising of awareness, conscientisation, eradication of stigmatisation: these are key elements in achieving non-discrimination against the disabled in practice and in their everyday lives.

A democracy is an order of social equality and non-discrimination. Our compatriots who are disabled challenge us in a very special way to manifest in real life those values of democracy.

It is not a question of patronising philanthropy towards disabled people. They do not need the patronage of the non-disabled. It is not for them to adapt to the dominant and dominating world of the so-called non-disabled. It is for us to adapt our understanding of a common humanity; to learn of the richness of how human life is diverse; to recognise the presence of disability in our human midst as an enrichment of our diversity.

Organisations like Scope help us to that greater understanding and I ask you to support Scope in its fight to end discrimination and to sign the equality pledge.

I thank you.

Representing disability in the fashion industry

Guest post by Sarah Dawes from Bibble Plus who make bandana style adult bibs for drooling and dribbling difficulties.

Models on the catwalk
Models on the catwalk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The physical appearance of people with a disability has long been taboo, avoided in discussions at all costs. This is an attempt to escape the elephant in the room almost by pretending that disabled people don’t have an appearance at all.

We often hear people with disabilities talked of with sympathy, or with awe. As caring as these attitudes may be, they place an uncomfortable distance between those with disabilities and those without. They assume that a disabled body is something to be put up with, rather than embraced, not even exploring the notion that a disabled person might want to show off their body, not hiding the bits that are different.

It’s tiring to have to define people exclusively on a deep, emotional level, trying to find commendable characteristics to replace the physical ones that can’t be mentioned. Sometimes it really is about appreciating what’s on the outside. We spend so long dwelling on the significant differences between the lifestyles of the disabled and non-disabled that we forget all we have in common – those elements of being human that have nothing to do with disability.

One of these is fashion; whatever shape your body is, you probably take an interest in what you put on it. Portrayals of the human body within the fashion industry have long been a hot topic of debate, and the lack of representation of all kinds of groups, including different weights, ages and colours, has been focused on by the media. One group that is hardly ever considered when it comes to fashion, though, is people with disabilities.

The fashion industry’s almost exclusive use of men and women above a certain height, under a certain weight, and with everything in the “right place”, imagines that everyone can, or even aspires to, look this way. More than 11 million people live with a disability in Britain, and yet they are almost non-existent in the fashion and beauty industries.

There are some who have recognised beauty in figures that aren’t the conventional shape, though.  The campaigning group Models of Diversity have recently made a documentary, showing the work they do to get disabled models recognised. They meet with leaders in the industry to promote inclusivity within fashion.

One of the models interviewed, Kelly Knox, was born without a left hand. She was the winner of Britain’s Missing Top Model in 2008, has appeared on Gok Wan’s How to Look Good Naked, and opened Pakistan fashion week, as well as appearing in a number of fashion campaigns. She aims to challenge people’s ideas about what beauty means. Having been on the catwalk for big brand P&G, she wonders why other brands can’t also embrace models with disabilities.

Actor, model and trainer Jack Eyers was born with proximal femoral focal deficiency, and had his leg amputated at 16. Involved in the Paralympic Games, he hoped there would be more disabled models in the media after the Games were over.

Demand for disabled models is slowly starting to pick up and, with the help of campaigners and ambitious disabled models, we can hope to see a wider variety of body shapes on the catwalks and in magazines in the coming years.

6 things everyone should know about Cerebral Palsy

Today is World Cerebral Palsy Day. Yesterday we asked you “what should everyone know about Cerebral Palsy?”.  Thank you to everyone who sent us a message, you can read more of the messages on Facebook.

Here are our favourites:

Cerebral Palsy does not define a person

Young adult using a wheelchair and man talking
Jamie wants to be an actor when he leaves college.
  • “People with cerebral palsy are exactly that. People. Just like everybody else. They love, laugh, cry and live. Just like everybody else. My four year old daughter is not defined by her CP. We are bringing her up so that SHE will define IT.” – Ellen on Facebook
  • “CP is a part of [my daughter] but she is and will not ever be defined by it.” – Cheryl on Facebook
  • “CP is a condition that needs attention but it’s not the person. If people could just spend some time to get to know him their lives would be enriched, as ours have been.” – Robyn on Facebook
  • “My son lives with CP, but it does not define him.” – Mrboosmum on the blog

Cerebral Palsy is not an illness

  • “People do not ‘suffer with CP’ as the Daily Mail would put it. It is not an illness.” – Catherine on Facebook
  • “It’s not a disease and you can’t catch it!” – Kerryanne on Facebook
  • “They should know that you can’t catch CP and that people with CP do – contrary to popular belief – have pride in their appearances.” – Rachel on Facebook
  • “You can’t catch cerebral palsy, you can talk to me x” – Lesley on Facebook

Talk to a person with Cerebral Palsy the same as you would to anyone else

  • “Just because the body might not work, don’t think that the brain don’t work either!” – Suzanne on Facebook
  • “People should respect you, it’s not our fault we have it.” – Deborah on Facebook
  • “Just because someone has CP, it doesn’t mean they are deaf or don’t understand what you say. Speak directly to someone, not about them, and not to their carer as if they aren’t present.” – Nadine on the blog

Cerebral Palsy affects people differently

  • “Each child is individual and should be treated as such. CP is a label but affects all differently xx” – Michele on Facebook
  • “Every disability is different and affects each individual person in a unique way this does not affect the way this person thinks and has they have the same feelings and thoughts as any other person.” – Juliette on Facebook
  • “Cerebral palsy can affect people differently my daughter has cerebral palsy but you wouldn’t know to look at her but she still has difficulties, people need to see past the disability my daughter is amazing and a true inspiration as are many children with CP.” – Chloe on Facebook
  • “People with cerebral palsy aren’t necessarily in a wheelchair and you can’t tell whether they have it just because they can walk.” – Victoria on Facebook
  • “It affects everyone differently and it impacts on the whole family , still wouldn’t be without her- every achievement brings a smile!” – Daniele on Facebook
  • “Even two people with the same clinical diagnosis can have very different challenges and opportunities.” – Mrbooksmum on the blog

People with Cerebral Palsy achieve things

Man with cerebral palsy piloting a plane
Nathan has cerebral palsy and is a qualified pilot.
  • “My son has quadraplegic CP and is in a wheelchair. This however has not stopped him climbing mountains, canoeing down rivers and raising money for his school. He goes to football, cricket, the theatre and lots of other events. Disability does not stop you achieving your dreams, it just changes the way you get there.” – Debby on the blog
  • “My daughter was born 23 years ago, and after a difficult birth, and 3 months down the line we were told she had cerebral palsy.  At 18 months she walked, she went to nursery, she went to primary, then secondary, then college, then university, and passed with honours. After taking a little longer, this summer she got a teaching job and moved to Birmingham with her supporting boyfriend who works at P.G.A golf. We are very happy and proud of our daughter. And thank you Scope.” – Marcella on Facebook
  • “Everyday I am humbled and privileged to be here to tell the tale, we all have individual journeys and challenges to face, but I for one am very proud of the progress myself and my family have made over the years!” – Liz on Facebook
  • “I’ve got Cerebral Palsy and I live an independent life. I work part time, I cook and I’ve been married to my husband for three years. My left side doesn’t work but I make the most out of life and try to keep smiling.” – Tracy on Facebook

People with Cerebral Palsy are loved

Girl with parents baking a cake
Molly with her parents.
  • “My little boy has CP and I wouldn’t change him for the world!” – Shelly on Facebook
  • “My son is 15 months old and was diagnosed with CP the day after his 1st birthday. Since then we’ve had another diagnosis of Semilobar Holoprosencephaly which means he should be a lot worse than he is, but he a super star!!! He can’t sit or crawl but he loves a good old wriggle. He babbles like mad and laughs like a drain! He makes everyone around him smile and I’m so glad he’s mine x” – Samantha on Facebook
  • “Hi there, my son is now nince, and only a year ago was finally diagnosed with unilateral hemiplegic CP , he also just recently was diagnosed with ASD. He lets nothing get him down, he does have learning disabilities but he is the most loving boy I could have asked god for.” – David on Facebook
  • “My son is 6.5 and has quad CP, visually impaired, gastro fed & seizures. He faces challenges on a daily basis that most of us never encounter in a lifetime but through it all he continues to give us the most amazing smiles. He’s truly special and the world would be much duller without him in it xx” – Kerry on Facebook

Do you agree? Did we miss something? Let us know in the comments below.

At Scope our wide range of services and activities are on offer to all disabled people. However, our history is based around cerebral palsy and we retain a particular specialism in this area. Scope offers home visits for parents of children newly diagnosed with cerebral palsy and lots of detailed information about the condition.

What should everyone know about cerebral palsy?

Man with teenager with cerebral palsy
Jamie from our school in Wales. Jamie has cerebral palsy and wants to be an actor when he leaves school.

This Wednesday is World Cerebral Palsy Day. At Scope our wide range of services and activities are on offer to all disabled people. However, our history is based around cerebral palsy and we retain a particular specialism in this area. Scope offers home visits for parents of children newly diagnosed with cerebral palsy and lots of detailed information about the condition.

Awareness days like World Cerebral Palsy Day are great opportunities to talk about and challenge misconceptions people have about conditions just like we did with World Down Syndrome Day, Learning Disability Week and World Autism Awareness Day. This year we’d like to hear from you!

What things do you think everyone should know about cerebral palsy? Let us know in the comments below, on Twitter or on Facebook.

Here are some messages we’ve had on Twitter:

Have you been on the end of scrounger abuse?

It’s now almost a year since the Paralympics started and we’ve been asking disabled people and their families if they feel the games made a difference to their day-to-day lives.  
There’ll be a lot of discussion next week about legacy. Scope is going to be urging journalists and the Government to listen to disabled people’s views.

One issue that keeps coming up is “benefits scrounger rhetoric”, and how this leads to people being abused in the street and being trolled online.

We asked on Twitter and Facebook for people to share their own experiences:

Bullying and abuse

Some people responded with shocking stories of unprovoked verbal and physical abuse:

“Just the other night one twitter account dedicated to highlighting the abuse of blue badge bays has decided to shut down because of the abuse it gets. One of my friends is seeking a judicial review and they tried to use his twitter use against him. I have a specific troll who tells me I am just lazy, I could work if i tried and so on. Any time there is a documentary style TV programme featuring sick or disabled people it stirs up a lot of abuse and general ignorance.” – Ema via email

“I’m leaning on my crutches by the broccoli when a lady in her late 50s walks up behind me shoves me hard into the broccoli box – face first – and calls me a disability scrounging unrepeatable in front of my children. My most embarrassing moment.” – Tinna on Facebook

“Someone walked into the back of my wheelchair whilst in supermarket queue, which apparently is my fault as “your sort shouldn’t be cluttering up the shops”.” – Teddy on Facebook

And it’s not just from strangers:

“I’ve had ‘friends’ explain how I just have to accept and expect romantic rejection because disability is ugly.” – NQ videos on Twitter

“I was told by a ‘friend’ that I shouldn’t be allowed a mobility car for my wheelchair using son with CP.”  – Naomi on Twitter

Hidden disability

Many people spoke about the problem of impairments that aren’t immediately obvious:

“I was once accused of stealing a disabled persons bus pass. It had my name and my photo on.  I am partially sighted. You can’t see the damage I have to my optic nerves, nor how much I can really see….I’ve had someone tell me I shouldn’t be on DLA because there’s nothing wrong with me. I don’t feel the need to broadcast every single medical problem I have.” – Sofie on Facebook

“People seem to think that ‘disability’ means a missing leg, or using a wheelchair/crutches; it can be, but sometimes a disability affects people more subtly and they still need assistance.” – Caitlin on Facebook

“I have epilepsy and hold a bus pass because of it – I’ve had some dirty looks off people for using it in the past.” – Kath on Facebook

Unashamed and fighting back

Some disabled people told us that they refuse to be ashamed of the money they receive and are fighting back at the bullies:

“I’m not ashamed of having claimed out of work benefits and I refuse to be ashamed of my DLA.” – Natalya on Facebook

“If anyone abuses me they get far worse back. I am sick and tired of being abused because of something that is no fault of my own. I will not be bullied or abused by people who believe the rhetoric” – Ian on Facebook

Parents told us that they didn’t care what people thought – the well-being of their children comes first:

“I have a two year old with CP. There would be no way I could take him to his physio without the extra help we get through DLA. If that makes me a beggar then so be it. I really don’t care as long as my son gets the best possible care and start in life !” – Darren on Facebook

“My daughter has CP. I listen to people going on about benefits and get fed up with listening to the constant moaning. I only want what is best for her and for those that do complain about disabled – stop and think – how would they feel if it was them?”  – Val on Facebook

Whilst some parents are taking more extreme measures!

“My son has severe CP. Rules we are working on when he is in his electric chair are

  1. If someone stares, smile at them – if they still stare, run them over.
  2. Three “excuse me”s from Mum and Dad and if they still wont shift – run them over.
  3. Three honks on his horn then …… yup, run them over” – Wag on Facebook

Inspiring women to follow on Twitter

On Tuesday we asked:

We had a fantastic response. Thank you to everyone who got in touch with their favourites. We’ve passed these on to the journalist so maybe we’ll get to see one of them featured in the magazine, we’ll let you know!

Here are all of the great suggestions we received:

@suey2y – Passionate Leftie & Health Warrior. Writer. Will tweet about politics, welfare, & disability disgraces A LOT. Also loves Elvis & Jammy Dodgers

  • “In spite of an illness that is painful and debilitating she writes and speaks for the disabled.” Vicky
  • “What a woman” – Charlotte
  • “The obvious one” – Penelope

@Bendygirl – Life in a broken bureaucracy with a bendy and borked body.

  • “Without a doubt” – André

@EverydayAbleism – Highlighting the everyday experiences that can come with disability, MH, illness.

  • “Giving a voice to disabled people 🙂 ” – Isla

@bmdonna – Have EDS as do my children. I am passionate about services for people with EDS. EDS = Validate, educate before you can rehabilitate anyone

  • “without you the HMSA would fall to pieces, the charity helps so many” – M

@janeccolby – Run The Young ME Sufferers Trust, was headteacher. Had severe ME from polio-type virus but can play golf now, even with my handicap.

  • “she has been a lifeline for us” – 625elf

@halfabear – Fierce ginger.

@fibro_girl – Fibromite, thrifty foodie, disability rights campaigner, friend, chatty passionate about many things.

@ZaraBain – Philosophy teacher/advocate. Yoga enthusiast. ME/CFS Warrior.

@SchizophrenicGB – Writing under a pen name as the stigma of schizophrenia still scares me.

@IslaBoag – PhD research student at the University of Strathclyde & librarian. Radical opinion-haver.

@stickmancrips – Cartoonist, Creator of Stickman Communications.


Have we missed someone? Let us know and we’ll add them to the list.

Why Walk When You Can Fly

Guest post from filmmaker Ray Wong who has recently released a documentary about Nathan Doidge, a man with cerebral palsy who qualifies as a pilot. We asked Ray to tell us more about the film:

I’ve known Nathan for around 10 years. About 5 years ago, after a night out on the tiles, he mentioned to me that he was going to learn to fly.

I was completely puzzled. My first thought was “how would that work?” I knew at that moment that I had to film Nathan learning to fly. Nathan generously agreed to be filmed and so began my journey into Nathan’s mind and what drove him to do such things.

I always knew that I wanted the film to start with Nathan in the cockpit of a plane, preparing himself for a solo flight. I liked the thought of that image at the start. The rest of the film would then explain what motivated him to get there.

I was ashamed to say that I didn’t know much about cerebral palsy. In a way, my ignorance was helpful because it allowed me to ask questions that most people were probably scared to ask. Ultimately though the film is about so much more than cerebral palsy – it is about Nathan’s spirit, the love, devotion, and support his parents gave him, and the fact that they instilled in him the fact that he could do anything he wanted, it may just take him a longer, that’s all.

I feel very privileged to have been allowed access to Nathan’s life so that I could make a film that, I hope, has done justice to his character. Obviously, Nathan is so much more than a filmic portrait – he is an inspiration and one of a kind. I hope after watching that you agree

Watch the film on YouTube and let us know what you think about the film in the comments section below.

National Transplant Week

Guest post from Lauren Britton

Andrew and LaurenSix months ago my husband caught a virus which slowly destroyed his heart leaving him unable to lead a normal life.

The last six months have been extremely difficult for us to come to terms with his disability after being so fit. The Scope website was extremely helpful in offering advice on financial help and benefits, and support for myself as a career.

He now needs a lifesaving transplant.

Being an organ donor saves lives. Three people a day will die waiting for an organ.

National Transplant Week runs  from 8 – 14th July and the NHS have launched a campaign to encourage people to register for organ donation.

It’s also really important that people talk about their wishes with their family.  Research shows that without this conversation only 40% of families agree to the donation should they be in that situation, but with it 90% of families agree.

It is very easy to become a donor, and only takes a few minutes you can text DONATE to 62323, call 0300 123 2323 or go to the Transplant Week website for more information

To help the campaign I have made a film to raise awareness about organ donation.