All posts by Sarah Bowes

Sarah is Challenge Event Fundraiser within the events team at Scope. She works on event marketing and the events social media.

Between London to Paris in 24 hours

You’ve probably already heard about Scope’s cycle event, London to Paris 24, which challenges you to cycle the 280 miles from London to Paris in just 24 hours. Unable to take part in the event because of an injury, Lucy Alliot was determined to cycle part of the 280 mile distance and created her own event – Lucy cycles between London to Paris in 24 hours. Here’s her guest blog looking back at her very unique event.

I completed it. Not quite as expected, but nevertheless I got there in the end with a bit of an added adventure! I departed from London at 11am on Saturday. Despite the rain I had a very smooth run down to Newhaven (including an accidental diversion to Croydon). I took the ferry over to Dieppe and set up my lights on the bike to head out along the dark French roads in the direction of Paris.

Unfortunately at 2.27am (French time), my bike derailleur completely snapped off. Even with an extensive tool kit there was nothing that could be done without a new part. Determined not to give up I assessed the options:

  1.  Borrow the velo I’d seen propped up by La Poste in the previous village, and commit to getting it back at a reasonable time the next day before anyone realised.
  2.  Walk to Paris.
  3. Try to find a bike shop open on a Sunday in France!

Since the French bike was built for a 7 foot man and walking would take 1.5 days, I decided to throw the bike in the car and try to find a repair shop. After a lot of searching we found what seemed to be the only bike shop open in France on a Sunday (Gepetto & Velos, Paris). At 5am we set-up camp outside to wait for it to open. Soon we realised sleep was near impossible so took the opportunity to take a whistle stop tour of the Parisian sites.

When the bike shop finally opened at 10 in the morning I attempted to negotiate with my limited French to have the bike fixed and sussed out the rusty second hand bikes to buy as a back-up. After a bit of a bodge job I was thrilled to be able to walk away with a bike whose wheels turned, despite not being able to cycle in the bottom cog – but it would get me going!

It was time to depart from La Tour Effiel and head back toward the scene of the crime, completing the route backwards, now greeted by a beautiful headwind. Nevertheless the weather was stunning and I could actually see what I was cycling past now. I finally arrived 22 hours later (excluding a few for fixing the bike in Paris!). Not quite the scenic end that I had anticipated, however I took a second attempt at the hill that had originally left my bike broken.

Lucy has received fantastic support from her friends and family, already raising over £1400 for Scope’s work. She wants to thank the very kind support car that stayed awake for 40 hours to help her finish what she had set out to do. Fancy taking part yourself in 2016? You can get your place today.

The UK’s first ever ParaTri

Remember Kris from Wheely Good Fitness? Not only is he supporting us with Steptember 2015, at the beginning of August he also took part in the UK’s first ParaTri event. 

Held at Dorney Lake in Windsor, it was the first ever mass-participant disability sport event in the UK. And not just any event – the triathlon. Kris was part of two Wheely Good Fitness teams who entered the Sprint Relay and the Half Para Relay on what was a fantastic day! Here’s their story.

Team one was made up of John, Susie and Chrissie – John and Susie have been attending our Wheel-Fit class for 18 months and Susie also attends our Wheel-Spin class. Chrissie is a Support Worker for Scope. Team two was made up of two more of our Wheel-Fit and Wheel-Spin clients, Julie and Elliot, along with our class instructor Kris.

The day was not only about bringing people of all abilities together, but about demonstrating that you don’t have to be a paralympic athlete to take part. Our teams were able to challenge themselves beyond their comfort zone by not only having to work against the clock, but also in a different environment.

In addition to the team were the support staff involved in not only encouraging and verbally supporting those taking part, but some ran side by side to provide guidance and comfort. Behind the scenes they ensured everyone was able to attend by arranging transport and attending to individuals needs.  In total there were fifteen of us, all in our bright purple Team Wheely and Scope shirts.

Everyone taking part raced to the best of their ability, resulting in the sprint team taking 37th place and the Half Para Relay team taking 6th place. Whilst everyone shone there was one team member whose journey has to be mentioned because not only should it inspire others to keep aiming high but also because a life long dream was achieved.

Susie’s story

Susie was in the sprint team  and her contribution to the relay was a 1km wheelchair push which she managed to do in just over 11 minutes.

When Susie came to our classes 18 months ago she was unable to open her one hand adequately to push her wheelchair properly and was generally pushed in her chair. As time went on her movements improved and she was able to open her hand enough to grab the push rim and asked to attend Wheel-Spin which wasn’t at that time possible.

Instead we agreed she could attend the 10 minute cool down section of Wheel-Spin and we would see how things progressed. Susie couldn’t get enough of it and started arriving earlier and earlier, and slowly the abilities in pushing and the use of her hand improved.

Now, 12 months on, she actively takes part in Wheel-Spin and has become quite independent and confident which is why she was entered into the Sprint Relay. What is so special about this is that not only did she challenge herself to improve, but as a result she also achieved a long standing ambition on Sunday of being an athlete and all at the age of 60.

The day at ParaTri was yet another proud day for us, seeing the benefits of the work we do and seeing how different lives can be when you believe in yourself and your abilities.

Read more about Wheely Good Fitness on their blog.

London Marathon proposal…did she say yes?

Guest blog by Pally Chahal. The 2015 London Marathon will be a day 132 Scope runners will look back on for years to come – but Pally’s memory will be even more special.

On Sunday 26th April 2015 I embarked on my fifth London Marathon. However, unlike my previous accomplishments, this marathon was going to be very unique, special and one I will always look back on with fond memories. This marathon I was going to go down on one knee and propose to the love of my life, Pam, in front of thousands of runners and spectators cheering us on.

Training time

I was able to build up to 20.52 miles by late February, which was quite impressive considering I was plagued with calf injures and general life tends to overrule training. My commitment to running and at the same time my family fish and chip shop business is quite high, so I never really got a full day of recovery from long distance runs. However, this training would not be like my previous regimes – this time I was training with an engagement ring in a box in my pocket. Many times it hampered my training due to constant rubbing on my thigh.

Final preparations

Around late March I was running around 45 to 55 miles per week and was quite happy with how the box was sitting in my pocket and its constant bashing against my thigh. All that was needed now was some guidance from Scope, for whom I have raised nearly £8,000 over four London marathons. They are a great bunch of people who are always available to give advice and support for fundraising ideas and will always stay in touch with your marathon training. The last four marathons have always been that little bit easier at the 14.5, 18.5 and 24 mile marks where you can rely on the Scope volunteers to cheer you on. Once I had revealed my idea to the team they did everything to help me make sure I succeeded in meeting up with Pam and my family members to carry out the proposal. They provided me with grandstand passes which is yards away from the finishing line, with Buckingham Palace providing the perfect backdrop to propose to Pam.

The marathon

The conditions were perfect – overcast with a slight drizzle of rain, all of which made for a great day of running and hopefully another personal best – sub three hours 30 minutes was on the cards. One thing I didn’t account for in my training was carrying my mobile phone just to make sure I could stay in touch with Pam at the grandstand. It was going to be interesting to see how the phone sat in my other pocket but I remained positive and channelled my thoughts into proposing and seeing the love of my life yards away from the finishing line. As the race progressed I was really comfortable – my pace and breathing were awesome. Around half way I managed to ring a friend to get some information on my predicted time based on my half marathon completion and it was three hours 13 minutes. During this time I was totally ecstatic and managed to ring Pam to find out she was with family by the grandstand – at this point I could barely contain my excitement and gave a surging roar to the crowd of supporters.

London Marathon CheeringThis seemed like plain sailing; surely it couldn’t be that easy with only eight miles to go. I could visualise myself proposing to Pam and topping it off with a personal best at the finishing line. Little did I know running off too fast during the first half of the marathon would come back to haunt me. I slowly started feeling pain under my foot, a pain I have been overcoming during training. For up to 21 miles I managed to march through the pain. Eventually it became more excruciating and unbearable, causing me to stop and attend to my foot. As the miles remaining decreased so did my energy to fight against the pain. The personal best became a distant memory and I channelled my thoughts into proposing to Pam. The Scope team at the 24.5 mile mark really spurred me on to finish strong. As I approached the last 385 yards they never seemed more beautiful – the constant sound of cheering, clapping and the whole atmosphere made me, and I’m sure the rest of runners, feel like celebrities as we approached the finishing line. However, my job was not finished yet and this young lady who always surprised me was now going to have the surprise of her life.

The proposal

On the right hand side of The Mall, facing the finishing line, I managed to see my brother who pointed out where Pam was standing and I slowly staggered towards her as she cheered my name. I can remember fiddling with my pocket zip and came over to Pam to kiss her whilst managing to unzip the pocket. I slowly stepped away from Pam and somehow plucked up the courage to get on one knee after a brutal 26.2 miles, holding on to a pole for support and said those precious words ‘will you marry me?’. The look on Pam’s face clearly showed she was absolutely shocked and the supporters around her started cheering. Knowing the pain I was in Pam didn’t hesitate and quickly said yes. At this moment I was the happiest man alive – all the pain I went through was well worth it. I managed to pick myself up and come across to Pam for a well-deserved celebration kiss. I collected myself together and gave another roar, clenching my fists in the air and marching to the finishing line as a very happy man.

Engaged life Coverage of the proposal on facebook

I finished in three hours, 43 minutes and 17 seconds; not my best time but very insignificant in terms of what I will remember from this year’s London Marathon. We managed to meet up with everyone at the post-race reception which Scope hold for all their runners and families. Here all the runners got a complimentary professional massage for their efforts and refreshments. The Scope team provided us with glasses of champagne to celebrate our engagement.

When I went to work the next day, customers started to congratulate me on the wedding proposal – they’d seen the video which went viral on Facebook. It was also covered by ITV news and the Daily Mail. I could not have imagined this sort of response at all and to be honest it was all so surreal. I would just like to say a big thank you firstly to the Scope Team for making this special event turn into a very special day for Pam and me, a day we will always cherish. Secondly a big thank you to all my customers, family and friends from Eltham, New Eltham, Sidcup and far out who have always donated generously for a great course and continue to do so. And a special thanks to Pam for making my dreams come true and being my true angel.

Fancy being one of our London Marathon runners next year? Find out more. 

Why the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 2015?

There’s just one week left to get your exclusive free place in our Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 team. You could be cycling the 100 mile route alongside people just like Chris who will be taking part for a third time.

“The Prudential Ride London is a huge and fantastic event that I have taken part from the first year. Finishing in the Mall outside Buckingham palace is an amazing experience that gives you a great feeling of achievement. Starting at the Olympic Park is also brilliant because you are following in the wheel tracks of the 2012 athletes who undertook the same challenging course. The support we get from the local communities is absolutely phenomenal with residents coming to the end of their driveways waving and cheering us on even when the weather was really bad last year!

I have a 16 year old son, Kieren, who has Downs Syndrome, so I’ll be riding for him. He needs support with basic day to day things. We’re lucky in North Wales because we have quite a good support network around us. With him being 16 we’re at the transition stage into college and further on in to adult life – obviously Scope services and their helpline is going to be quite important to us.

I’m hoping my family will be coming down for event day although this will depend on how Kieren is. I hope to bring him down with me and then he can come to the start and be there at the finish – fingers crossed he will be there but if not he will be there in spirit.”

Get your place in our team for free today and be treated to a hero’s reception, a massage in our chill out zone and TLC for your bike! We’re hoping to raise over £314,000 and will have our biggest team ever with over 600 riders taking part for Scope.

“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!

Amazing planet. Amazing continent. Amazing adventure.

Shirley Butler’s trek through the Sumatran Jungle at the age of 78 was meant to be her swansong. That was back in 2013 and Shirley certainly didn’t stay away from the treks for long. Last October she joined a group of Scope supporters trekking through Burma, a country isolated from tourism until very recently.

Myanmar has to be seen to be believed – it is vast, scorching sun, lush crops of fruit and vegetables, tea and coffee plantations, paddy fields and mud! One of the first things I learned in Myanmar was that the life span of a woman is 65 years, so you can imagine how I was treated and spoiled by everyone. The guides referred to me as ‘my grandma’. I just loved it.

A short journey on the train was such an experience, a huge contrast to public transport here in the UK. There were no doors so everyone had to squeeze in and hold on tight. It was such fun, until a torrential rain down pour. The ground turned to red, sticky, claw-like mud. Progress on foot was slow to say the least, especially for me.

We stayed in monasteries which had a very spiritual feel to them. Children training to be monks were seen praying and chanting on the grounds, and were happy to be photographed. The first monastery we stayed at had an amazing alfresco shower built for travellers, which overlooked a view to die for with chickens running around at will. Whilst we were showering, a monk came down to feed the chickens. A short while after another four women went to shower and the same monk went to feed the chickens. The same story was told by another group of travellers a little later on. They were either very well fed chickens  or it was a naughty monk!

All of the visitors were presented with a wristband – a red string with knots representing the support in one’s life, from a Buddha, teacher, family or a visitor. The sleeping arrangement was a large room filled with mattresses side by side- very cosy! Whilst trekking we passed a petrol station which consisted of a shelf holding old whiskey bottles filled with petrol.

After trekking for approximately 70 miles over the first few days, long boats were ready to transport us to see the sights of the floating markets, with all the hustle and bustle of everyday life.  We stopped to see the local crafts, like tobacco being hand rolled by young women, a warehouse extracting silver from the rocks and teak boats being hand made by young skilled men. Along the Inle Lake, we saw fishermen rowing the boats with their legs whilst fishing! All around the lake there houses on stilts and floating gardens.

One highlighting ‘incident’ was when I was lucky enough to have been offered a lift in a vehicle, while the rain was pouring down. The driver could only recite a few words in English which were “Okay. Hi! Out! Five minutes!” He asked me to get out as the motor was beginning to slide sideways into the ditches because of the rain. He told me “we walk for 5 minutes.” One hour and ten minutes later, my boots and I were still trampling along the muddy road.

Getting to Myanmar takes a long time by air but if you want to see all these exotic places then getting from A to B is all part of the challenge. I feel that my boots will be hung up for a while after I manage to get the mud cleaned off. Have I mentioned the mud?

Will there be another trek? Never say never as the saying goes. The fundraising continues regardless, the hill walking beckons and our wonderful planet is there for the taking.

So, has this given you the urge to pick up your boots and get discovering our world? Take a look at the overseas treks we offer.

“I’ve talked about doing a marathon for 10 years, and this was the catalyst”: #100days100stories

Dan and Mel first shared their story in July 2014. We’re republishing it here as part of Scope’s 100 Days, 100 Stories campaign.

Dan and Mel’s son Oliver was recently diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Despite seeing specialists since a very young age, they had a long battle to get Oliver properly diagnosed, including nine months’ worth of tests.

“Oliver was different to other children, and we couldn’t explain why. Because of the issues and complex needs he had, he would do things like lick the radiator and lick the floor where it was cold. You’d go out into an environment where there were loads of other kids, and it was very obvious that he was different but we couldn’t explain why. You’d put him down on the floor and he would only crawl a little bit and then he would start eating the end of the table. We laugh at it now because we understand what he’s doing and why he’s doing it, but until that point we closed ourselves off and saw fewer people. We didn’t really want to go out – not because you’re ashamed, but you couldn’t turn round and say ‘This is why he’s behaving that way’.”

Dan and Mel's son, Oliver
Dan and Mel’s son, Oliver

Mel explained that it was incredibly hard to get a firm diagnosis, “but as soon as we got one and accepted it, it made us even more proud of him. We knew he had problems, but we didn’t ever dream he’d have cerebral palsy. I even remember saying at the beginning [of the road to a diagnosis], ‘Oh yeah, but it’s not like he’s got cerebral palsy or anything, it’s not so major.’ He doesn’t look like what many people would think a child with cerebral palsy looks like. He can walk and he’s got a voice – he’s non-verbal, but he has a voice and he uses it.”

Oliver’s condition left many paediatricians guessing for nine months, with Dan and Mel persisting that his behaviour wasn’t right. “At first we went to a private paediatrician who told us there was nothing wrong with him at all. It was at a young age, but other things had been picked up by health visitors. I contacted the NHS to get him into the system and the paediatrician we got is fantastic.” Putting Oliver through months of tests was difficult on his parents, and particularly Dan. “It was certainly hard putting him through it, watching him being tested. He was getting to the point where he understood enough to know ‘Oh, it’s another person prodding me.’ He would cry as soon as somebody came near him, because even though he didn’t understand everything, he understood that things were going on. That was quite difficult.”

For Mel, she was determined to get a diagnosis. “It was really important to me. Not that it changed anything – I don’t care if he’s got two heads! But it mattered, and I can’t explain why. The moment we had a diagnosis and it had sunk in, for both of us it felt like a weight had been lifted.” Dan goes on to explain that “there were definitely more tears shed in the run-up to the diagnosis than since the diagnosis. We do not feel sorry for ourselves or wish for different things, whereas before we were searching. Now there’s no need to search – it’s difficult to get the diagnosis, but once you do it’s a lot of help.”

Dan with Oliver
Dan with Oliver

Dan and Mel are clearly both very committed to their son, persisting to ensure he has the best support and stimulation possible including occupational therapy and sensory integration. It’s clear they have an eye to the future but it is still very early days for them in terms of Oliver’s diagnosis. Getting Oliver’s diagnosis was the catalyst for Dan to take on a challenge he’d been talking about for 10 years – the London Marathon – an emotional rollercoaster or excitement and apprehension. “I went through a phase where there was lots of pressure – you just think to yourself, ‘I just can’t let anyone down on the day’.”

The couple chose to support Scope as it captured a charity that helped others with similar needs to Oliver. “It goes to helping people, that’s the main thing.” Thanks to the overwhelming response of friends, family, colleagues and strangers, Dan has now raised more than £15,000. As well as support at work, Mel explained that Oliver’s nursery did a mini-marathon. “All the kids walked round the park – they raised £1,200, and that was just amazing. I think it makes a difference that it’s his first time running, and we’ve just had the diagnosis. For us, it’s been wow! We didn’t dream we’d get anywhere near this.”

There are still places available to run this year’s Brighton Marathon for Scope on Sunday, 12 April.

Find out more about the 100 Days, 100 Stories project.

No phone, no social media and no Google maps. Just real life.

In our last post we introduced you to our brand new event which encourages people to raise money for Scope whilst giving up technology for the weekend – Digital Detox is a good old-fashioned weekend without technology.

In the lead-up to her analogue 48 hours, Alice Wilkie started a blog documenting her fears and panic over losing digital.

5 Days to go

I am going 48 hours without digital in aid of Scope, raising money that could potentially provide assisted technologies to those who need it. As of today, the data on my phone has run out. I have a monthly allowance of 1GB but I ALWAYS run out part way through the month and 9 times out of 10 will top it up. This time however, I thought it would be better to dip my toe in the water and leave it, and guess what? ME NO LIKEY.

I think it’s fair to say I’m feeling pretty anxious. I spoke to my Mum on the phone tonight and she said I can’t possibly go without a phone in London. Love you Mum, but it’s happening.

4 days to go

Running out of data is definitely giving me a taste of what the weekend is going to be like. I went to an event about social entrepreneurship yesterday afternoon. It was at a place I’ve never been to before, and my Google maps was not working due to lack of data allowance. So I literally had to (shock-horror!) use street signs and speak to people!

Talking to strangers was actually rather nice. One man even called up his friend to ask him for directions to the place I was looking for as he was unsure. However, part of me has been thinking it would be nice to top up my data and make the most of my apps and stuffs before the weekend.

3 days to go

Today was focus groups training day! Woo! This is a course I’ve been looking forward to going on. It’s basically all about how to run focus groups and get the best out of them – it was extremely interesting! Overall I had a great day – however, no data plus no WiFi meant I was unable to check Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, Snapchat, Twitter, Emails… Nothing! ALL. DAY. And again, I had to ask a stranger for directions. This time I opted for a fruit and veg stall man, and rather embarrassingly I was standing outside the hotel I was looking for. I think this made me realise just how dependent I am on my Google maps… So much so that I’m incapable of just looking around me and using a bit of common sense!

2 days to go

So! Really chuffed with how many donations I’ve got – £73 so far! That’s 152% of my £48 target. So thank you so much to all who have donated! All day today my work colleague, Claudia, has suggested that I buy a board game. Lovely idea Claudia… But no. Plus I’m not going to have anyone to play with at this rate. Oooh, in happier news – my data has been renewed! This means I have spent as much time as possible today listening to Spotify.

Camera and photos
Looking forward to using this for 48 hours instead of Instagram

I’ve been thinking about how I’m going to fill my time this weekend… Most prominent ideas include – getting drunk for 48 hours, reading my book, getting the train somewhere and having a mooch, taking pictures with Rupert’s polaroid camera, going to the gym, going for a long walk, going to see Ellie, sleeping all weekend, or rocking up at my Nan’s house as a surprise.

Wonder whether I’ll do any of the above. Other worries include – what am I going to do without speaking to the boyfriend all weekend?! We must literally exchange about 50 texts/ Facebook messages/ Whatsapps/ Youtube clips/ Snapchats per day. Oh… And speak for around an hour most nights on the phone.

Ah well… You know the saying… Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

15 hours and 28 minutes to go…

I’m going into a digital coma. No phone, no internet, no social media, but most importantly NO GOOGLE MAPS. I think that is what I am freaking out about most…

Notebook and post-it notes
Ready for my digital free weekend with my old school notebook and Facebook message post-it notes!

On the way home from work

My phone died.

Boyfriend writingI was freaking out on the bus. I ALWAYS listen to Spotify when I’m on the bus, and I couldn’t. The 20 minute journey seemed like an hour long. Plus, when I got to my front door, I rang and rang the doorbell and nobody answered. Thankfully my phone decided it would turn back on for a quick burst so that I could call my boyfriend to let me in.

Wow, this weekend is going to be harder than I imagined. I knew it was going to be hard, but I was kind of joking about it and not thinking it through too much, but NOW it’s hit me! Eeek.

My lovely boyfriend wrote me a little note for the weekend 🙂

I’ve had some wine and I’m feeling pretty sad now.

Who’d have thought turning your phone and internet off for 48 hours would be so emotional?!

Only 33 minutes to go…

Saturday 23 November

So, on Saturday I literally woke up with clammy hands from DREAMING about the Internet?! I lay in bed for about an hour resisting the urge to check my phone before getting up like I usually would. After having a coffee and showering, I thought I might as well brave the outdoors and see how I get on.

At 11am I got the tube to Piccadilly Circus and walked to Oxford Street. I had a mooch around and found the camera shop Lomography on Carnaby Street. I’d never been to Carnaby Street before- it’s so cute! I was pretty surprised how easy it was to get around without Google maps. Admittedly it probably took me 5-10 minutes longer than it normally would – but I got there.

I then walked to Regent’s Park to experiment with the camera (Just going started now – I didn’t quite work the camera out over the weekend… You’ll see this from my photos! Out of 20 Polaroids you can only see something resembling a picture in about 4).

I found I was really aware of myself without having my phone or my headphones. Particularly on public transport where I always have my headphones on or am chatting away on my phone. I also noticed that I kept tapping my right coat pocket to check my phone was in there- which I normally do out of habit every 10 mins or so it seemed!

When I got back I called Gaz on the landline. Was so nice to chat, but really strange talking on the phone and not being able to move (old school landline)! Sounds silly but it was really weird putting the phone down and not being able to send a text or anything?! As normally we’d get off the phone and send a text goodnight or something. Gaz said he’d found the day difficult too, particularly not being able to send me funny Youtube clips!

Overall, the day was hard, but I did feel kind of liberated. One day down, one to go.

Sunday 24 November

Felt a bit better on Sunday! Think that’s because I knew I only had 24 hours left!

I woke up, had breakfast, watched a bit of Titchmarsh and then got ready to meet Ellie. I’d written directions to Ellie’s down on Friday so I was looking forward to seeing if I’d be able to find my way there without getting lost!

Got to Ellie’s about 20 minutes early so decided to walk around Vauxhall park and failed to take photos that were any good YET AGAIN. After roaming around for a bit I could hear “ALIIIIIICE!!!” And Ellie was hanging out of her top floor flat like Rapunzel!

Was slightly worried on the way back because I’d told Gaz I’d ring him on the landline around 5pm-ish and it was now nearly 8.30pm. Called him when I got in and he had been a bit worried about where I was! But it was nice to chat and remind ourselves that we’d be back to our obsessive-texting-selves by Monday.

Monday 25 November

Woke up this morning and couldn’t wait to turn on my phone to find:

  • 10 Facebook notifications
  • 5 texts
  • 8 Snapchats
  • 16 emails
  • 3 Instagram likes

Got ready for work in my usual way… Checking my phone in bed, checking it after having a shower, drying my hair and putting my make-up on whilst texting/Facebooking, getting on the bus with my headphones on listening to Spotify (whilst browsing the web) and only taking them off when I stepped into the office. Yay, back to the 21st century!

Despite slipping straight back into my usual ways I think I have learned a lot this weekend. Such as:

  • I CAN find my way from A to B without Google maps
  • I don’t need to be in constant contact with people, and it feels much nicer and more special when the contact is more sparse and deliberate.
  • I can go to the gym without my phone, and I think I will from now on.
  • I feel very self-conscious and more self-aware when I am without my phone and headphones- particularly on public transport.
  • I obsessively tap my right pocket to check my phone’s in there – I CAN sit on my own and not flick through my phone. People are on their phones SO MUCH.
  • I need to learn how to use a Polaroid camera

Polaroid photos

It seems like the weekend had a long-lasting effect on Alice as she soon updated her blog.

Guess what…

I went to the gym this morning WITHOUT my phone. And I traveled to work WITHOUT my headphones on. WHAT’S HAPPENED TO ME!?!”

For your chance to get to grips with using a Polaroid camera, sign up for your own 48 hour detox. Digital Detox will be returning the first weekend in March. To meet previous detoxers find us on Facebook and Twitter.

Can you survive 48 hours without digital?

A whole weekend with no Facebook, no phone, no tablet, nothing with a screen. That is exactly the challenge we set 20 Scope supporters back in November when introducing our brand new fundraising event Digital Detox. The event encourages our supporters to take up the challenge and experience just real analogue life, without the interference of technology.

In need of a detox was John Doree who pledged to go without tech for 48 hours and to re-engage with the offline side of life.

The tech-y way of life

No digital for 48 hours. No smart phones. No internet. Have a good old fashioned weekend.

When I first saw the Digital Detox challenge email I thought I’d give it a go. It’s my first bit of active participation in a Scope event and I was eager to do something and Digital Detox seemed a really good fit. I use my phone quite a bit for internet and a bit of social network stuff, but on the whole my phone usage pales in comparison to my use of other gadgets and gizmos. I listen to my MP3 player almost constantly on headphones, read using a Kindle, play games on a laptop, write music using said laptop and a host of other noise-making bits of hardware.
Despite all those bits of technology, on a personal level I thought just giving up one device wouldn’t be enough. The idea of dropping as much technology as I could for 48 hours was one that I thought would be a real challenge. It turned out to be much harder in reality.

My friends thought it would be a real nightmare for me, they’ve known me as the tech-obsessed geek with a penchant for software development and creating electronic music, so the thought of me ditching it all for a weekend was an amusing one. I think this was reflected in the generous donations that found their way to my Just Giving page and I was all too happy to give people a dread-filled commentary on Facebook in the run-up to the big switch-off. There were some last-ditch efforts to ensure I wouldn’t be completely scuppered over the weekend, I got some money out as I was including Cashpoints as accessible technology, then I just about remembered to switch my alarms off and that was it.

How many times do you check your phone?

The urge to check my phone was overwhelming, it was quite saddening at times to realise how much I instinctively reach for it when I’m doing even the most innocuous things like waiting for the kettle to boil. No Saturday morning TV either. There’s never anything on but there’s usually something recorded from the week on the Sky box, but no, this wasn’t allowed either. No music player or CD player in the living room. Right, OK then.

My other half had left for the day to catch up with her friends so I was left on my own. What was I going to do? I had a bath and hung up the washing. I did the washing up and changed the sheets. I took down the rubbish and recycling. I finished all these things and thought, now what? Read a book? So I read a book and promptly had a nap. The flat was so quiet and even our typically noisy neighbours were evidently also taking the weekend off their favourite activity of banging on the walls. Time just seemed to stretch before me and midnight Sunday evening was now a very distant prospect. Our plan for the evening was to go to a friend’s birthday in Camden and so I was relieved of my self-imposed analogue nightmare.

A virtual power cut

Sunday was a little more difficult, not just for me but for my now-suffering partner. My Digital Detox was now threatening her own activities, she felt guilty about turning the TV on or playing around on her phone and so left them alone in favour of the two of us just sitting around and having a chat. As much as we both wanted to laze around in front of the TV on a Sunday afternoon, in the end we found just sitting around nattering away for several hours was just as enjoyable.

By the time I went to bed on the Sunday evening I found I wasn’t missing technology as much as I thought I would. I was certainly looking forward to catching up on emails and continuing reading some trashy novel on the Kindle, but the predicted binge of technology on the Monday evening never came to pass.

So much is taken for granted and I felt that simply giving up my phone alone wasn’t enough.

The Just Giving page set up by the events team included the following bit of text:

“The money raised through Scope’s Digital Detox could help provide an iPad and accessories, so a student with limited verbal communication can interact in a way they have never done before – using equipment they can control themselves.”

This really resonated with me so I thought to draw a parallel between the cause and the challenge itself by trying to severely reduce my access to as much technology as possible. In the end it was fun, and a considerable challenge but it was an event that showed me how immediately accessible a lot of technology is these days.

Digital Detox will be returning for the first weekend in March. Sign up for your own 48 hour detox and pledge to embrace your inner analogue. For more information on how to sign-up to ‘go dark’ for a weekend of good old-fashioned fun check out the website or phone 020 7619 7270. To meet previous detoxers find us on Facebook and Twitter.

Sumatran Jungle Challenge: “A phenomenal adventure”

Over the years, Shirley Butler, 78, has raised over £24,000 for us by taking part in our challenge treks. Her travels for Scope have taken her to Cambodia, The Grand Canyon, Vietnam and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro – to name just a few.

This September, she joined a group of committed trekkers venturing in to the Sumatran Jungle. Here is the story of her amazing journey.

The start of the adventure

If you want a great adventure then take up a Scope challenge. It was absolutely amazing! I will never forget my journey through the Sumatran jungle.

The Eco Lodge in Bukit Lawang
The Eco Lodge in Bukit Lawang

We flew from Heathrow to Kuala Lumpur, then on to Medan, the capital of Sumatra. We eventually arrived at the beautiful Eco Lodge in the village of Bukit Lawang. “Gunung” means mountain, “Bukit” means hill, “Llawing” means door – Bukit Lawang means “The hill which is the gateway to the mountain.” Nice eh!

My room in the Eco Lodge had a bed covered with a mosquito net. A ceiling fan and a dressing table added a touch of luxury. Every morning we were woken by the sound of monkeys running across the roof throwing fruit at each other.

Jungle delights

Orangutans in the Sumatran jungle
Orangutans in the Sumatran jungle

Our trek into the jungle was one of the many highlights. The jungle is dense, dangerous and hot.

Indonesia has the largest flower on earth. It has a strong odour of decaying flesh and because of this it is nicknamed the ‘Corpse Flower’. We were introduced to another fruit called the durian. “It smells like hell but tastes like heaven” one local told us. Taxi drivers have been known to ask people to leave their vehicles because of the overpowering smell!

We saw great orangutans, Thomas leaf monkeys and hornbills. Our guide pointed out a particularly big orangutan by the name of Ucok Baba. Ucok had not been seen in the area for over 15 years, but had recently returned to take his place at the head of the pack.

Village life

Sumatran Jungle trekkers preparing to cross the river
Sumatran Jungle trekkers preparing to cross the river

We trekked through the forest gully up to our chests in river water. Then we returned to the village to spend time with our hosts. My escort invited me in to his home to meet his family, and they told me stories over tea and biscuits.

On the final day we all took part in the local tree planting programme. To give something back to this wonderful country was a privilege and a pleasure. A celebration dinner was organised that night with traditional food and music. It was one of the wildest parties I have ever been to. Such fun!

A phenomenal adventure

Participants in the Sumatran Jungle Challenge
Participants in the Sumatran Jungle Challenge

If I had to sum up the whole of the adventure in to one word it would be “phenomenal”. It was an amazing journey and every day brought something different. To have been part of this – and to have had the opportunity to raise money for Scope – I felt like the most privileged person to have ever walked this planet.

Shirley couldn’t stay away for long. She’s already signed up for Trek Burma next year!

Dates for the 2014 and 2015 Sumatran Jungle Challenge are now available. Or visit some of the most magical places on earth with our other treks and challenges.