Category Archives: Paralympics

What it was like starring in Channel 4’s Superhumans advert

Last week Channel 4 released the new ‘Superhumans’ advert promoting the 2016 Paralympics. Guy Llewellyn, a horn player and Virgin Media employee,  starred in the ad as part of the big band. Here, he tells us the impact music has had on his life and the best bits of taking part in the filming. #YesICan

I originally trained as a professional horn player at the Royal College of Music but, after a brief freelance career, I joined one of the pioneering cable companies based in Cambridge, and have been working as an access network planner for the best part of 23 years! Although I decided that a full-time career in music wasn’t for me, I still kept playing at a professional level.

Unfortunately, in 2010, I had a bad fall at home and broke my back. The fall left me paralysed from the waist down and meant I would use a wheelchair for the rest of my life.

It was important to remain positive

Guy playing his horn on stage
Guy playing his horn on stage

At the time, it seemed like both my career in music and at Virgin Media might be over. But, with the help of friends, family and Virgin Media, I was able to find my feet again and continue to work and play.

I cannot stress enough how important it was for me to remain positive and to motivate myself to keep going and beat the doubters.

This was a key message in the Channel 4 “We’re the Superhumans” advert in which I took part.

Being one of the ‘Superhumans’

I was absolutely astounded to be asked to take part in the film, and at one stage doubted whether I was going to be able to juggle all my commitments. I also have a wife and 4 daughters to think about! However, with support from Virgin Media and my family I was able to join the band.

I knew that this was going to be once in a lifetime opportunity, and one that that I will now never forget.

Nothing had prepared me for the complexity of this project and the sheer amount of tireless work by the dedicated crew. Not only was it a huge logistical challenge, (some of my fellow musicians had come from America and New Zealand),  but the project also demanded meticulous attention to detail. This meant that the shoot days were pretty long with a fair bit of waiting around. Yet, despite the long hours, I found the whole process fascinating.

The ‘best bits’ from filming 

Guy and his band outside Abbey Road studios
Guy and the band outside Abbey Road studios

Undoubtedly one of the highlights of doing the project for me, as a musician, was the opportunity to record the soundtrack at Abbey Road Studios. Not only that, we also got to record in Studio Two, where the Beatles recorded Sgt. Pepper and Pink Floyd recorded ‘Dark Side of the Moon’.

Of course, there was a lot of waiting around, but just to sit in the Abbey Road canteen and soak up the atmosphere was a truly awesome experience.

Guy and the band crossing the abbey Road zebra-crossing
Guy and the band emulating the Beatles’ iconic Abbey Road album cover

Most importantly, the team work I saw unfolding in front of me on the other side of the lens was nothing more than astonishing. We were also very well looked after and, despite some of the crew sometimes working 20 hour days, everyone kept smiling, and shared a real belief in what we were trying to achieve.

The release of the advert also came at an important time. For instance, it coincided nicely with the recent Charity Week and Virgin Media’s renewed commitment to recognising and improving the workplace for all of its employees.

“Watch the advert and let it speak for itself!”Guy and the band taking part in the ad

Unfortunately, time and space constraints mean I cannot possibly describe all the amazing things that happened and all the amazing heroes I met. But if you watch the advert I am sure you will see just how important the work of Virgin Media and Scope is in making positive changes to people’s lives.

We would love to hear your thoughts on Channel 4’s Superhumans ad. What were your impressions or reactions? Tweet your response using the hashtag #Superhumans. 

One disability emoji isn’t enough ♿. So we’ve made 18 to celebrate World Emoji Day

It’s World Emoji Day on Sunday (17 July) and we’re celebrating by releasing a set of 18 emoji designs featuring disabled people and Paralympic sports.

Billions of emojis are sent every day on social media and on messaging services like Whatsapp. Despite ongoing efforts to make emojis more diverse with different skin tones and same sex couples, there is just one to represent disability – a wheelchair-user sign, often used as an accessible toilet sign.

We think this isn’t good enough. So we hope that our 18 new emoji designs will inspire Unicode, the organisation that oversees emojis, to represent disabled people in a positive way.

Check out our emoji designs below. You can download the images on a desktop by right clicking on them and clicking ‘save image as’. You can then share your favourite emojis as an image on social media.

These aren’t proper emojis just yet, but you can still share the Jpegs. Alternatively, just share this blog post. 

Celebrating the Paralympics

The latest emoji release in June included Olympic sports and medals, but no recognition of the Paralympics.

With Rio 2016 fast-approaching, our emojis feature a number of Paralympians, including a wheelchair tennis player, modeled after Jordanne Whiley, Britain’s most decorated tennis player of all time and recent Wimbledon doubles champion, and a swimmer inspired by four-time gold medallist Ellie Simmonds.

An IPC swimmer
An IPC swimmer

Team Paralympics GB’s Jordanne Whiley and her partner, Japan’s Yui Kamiji, were crowned Wimbledon champions in the women’s wheelchair doubles last weekend.

Jordanne, who has brittle bones disease, says that she loves her wheelchair emoji:

 

A wheelchair tennis player
A wheelchair tennis player

“Emojis are so popular – everyone uses them, so everyone should be represented. It’s shocking that there’s only one character to symbolise disability.

When I was growing up, I didn’t see people like me on TV, in magazines or in films.

I want young people to see that it doesn’t matter what shape or size you are; you can still be successful. You don’t have to look a certain way to fit in.

It would be great for disabled people to be reflected in the wide range of emojis.”

Sorry, but one emoji is not enough!

Man signing BSL 'sorry'
Man signing BSL ‘sorry’

We asked more than than 4,000 Twitter users whether they thought that one emoji was enough to properly represent disability: 65% said it wasn’t.

Our campaign manager Rosemary Frazer agrees:

“From crème caramel to two types of camel, emojis offer a colourful array of more than 1,800 characters to help sum up how you’re feeling.

So it’s disappointing that disabled people are represented with just one emoji – the wheelchair user sign.

As a wheelchair user, I’m shocked by the lack of imagination. This one symbol can’t represent me and the disabled people I know.

To truly represent the world we live in, disabled people should be included in a way that reflects the diversity of our lives.”

We hope people will use our emojis to support team ParalympicsGB during this year’s games in Rio and beyond. Too often disabled people aren’t included when we talk about diversity.

Let’s change that.

Paralympic athletes celebrating
Paralympic athletes celebrating

Download and save the emojis above and help us spread the word by using them on Twitter and Facebook. 

You can download the images on a desktop by right clicking on them and clicking ‘save image as’. You’ll then have a Jpeg to share on social media. Alternatively, just share this blog post. 

 

 

 

 

“Can I teach aerobics in a wheelchair? Yes, I can!” #Superhumans #Paralympics

Kris Saunders-Stowe is one of the stars of Channel 4’s new Paralympics TV advert. As the Superhumans return to an uplifting soundtrack of Sammy Davis Jr’s Yes, I Can, Kris talks about his passion for dance and how the Paralympics show the importance of focusing on what disabled people can achieve. 

My parents always encouraged me to try new things. I loved watching Come Dancing, which was primetime Saturday night viewing back then and my aunt and uncle were competitive ballroom and Latin American dancers.

I remember visiting my aunt and she would be surrounded by bags of sequins, netting and brightly coloured feathers, busily making costumes for their next competition.

I started learning ballroom and Latin American dance when I was seven. I was hooked – progressing through all the levels to ‘gold bar’ – my teacher thought I had potential and wanted to coach me to become a professional dancer.

But sadly outside the studio things were not as positive.

My mother, proud of my achievements, sent me to school loaded with my medals and certificates, and I’d be called up on stage during assembly to share my success.

The intentions were good, but I became the odd one out. I ended up being bullied quite badly, which changed me and how I saw myself. So I gave up dance in a bid to stop it, but the bullying carried on throughout my school life.

I’ve often wondered what my life would be like if I’d carried on dancing. But as my health deteriorated and I lost most of the function in my legs due to a progressive degenerative condition, the idea of dancing again faded away.

Using a wheelchair it felt like I was taking back control

When I started using a wheelchair it felt like I was taking back control and regaining my independence. I became a fitness instructor and I was able to enjoy music and rhythm again through teaching aerobics. I learnt wheelchair dance and qualified as an instructor through the Wheelchair Dance Sport Association.

A few months ago, I was invited to audition for a part as a wheelchair dancer in an advert. I found out after the auditions that I’d been chosen to be part of Channel 4’s Paralympics advert, which was fantastic.Kris holding his dance partner aloft

The experience has reignited my passion for dance and opened up further opportunities to do so. I let the bullying end my dreams of dancing and when I first became disabled I felt like I ‘couldn’t’ dance, but now I can because of my disability. I met many new friends through working on the ad, there was a great mix of personalities and we share being part of something iconic.

Yes I Can

Kris-Florence3The ad for London 2012, which was created by the same director, was dynamic and punchy, conveying the passion, drive and commitment of Paralympians. This year’s will share those qualities, but it also features disabled people, not just Paralympians, doing a wider range of sports, playing music and other activities. It sends a simple message to everyone who thinks or is told they can’t do something: Yes I Can.
When I work with disabled clients as a fitness instructor, I always focus on what people can do rather than what they can’t. I believe we all have the ability to do anything we want in life. Often we can lack confidence in ourselves and so when someone tells us we can’t do something we accept they are right and never achieve our full potential. Yet if we truly believe in ourselves and are encouraged to explore we can change those ideas and perceptions.

When I began my career as a fitness instructor, I attended a course to become an aerobics instructor. The course tutor assumed that because I’m a wheelchair user I wouldn’t be able to fulfil the course criteria, she said I “should be on a special course”. It’s fair to say I proved her wrong, my main career is as an aerobics instructor and I work to challenge people’s perceptions of what disabled people can achieve. Can I teach aerobics in a wheelchair? Yes I can!

It’s human nature to pigeonhole people based on first impressions. But disability comes in so many shapes and forms, visible and invisible that no one person can be considered the same. The same is true for people who aren’t disabled. We’re all the same because we’re all uniquely different.

Kris on set of the Channel 4 advert
Kris on set of the Channel 4 advert

Too many people look at the impairment, at what they think or assume someone can’t do, rather than what they can do. One of the things I like about Channel 4’s new ad is that it shows what disabled people are capable of, not just on a Paralympian level, but as people taking part in everyday activities that lead to a healthier, enjoyable and more independent life.

What do you think of Channel 4’s Superhumans ad? Tweet your response using the hashtag #Superhumans. 

 

Scope celebrates 100 days until the Paralympics with #30towatch

It’s 100 days to go until the Rio 2016 Paralympics Games.

Scope is celebrating by throwing a spotlight on ‘the ones to watch’ – 30 extraordinary disabled people under 30.

These up-and-coming stars are our #30towatch.

With breakout sporting talent, creative entrepreneurs and innovators, actors and rap artists – the list showcases the disabled stars of the future.

London 2012 changed attitudes to disability and celebrated Paralympians as sporting equals.

But four years on, Scope polling shows that a staggering 76% of disabled 18-35 year olds say they are treated differently because they are disabled. The research shows that of those:

  • Just over a third (36%) said people seem uncomfortable and don’t know how to talk to them
  • A third (33%) said people patronise them because they are disabled.

Previous Scope research shows that millennials are twice as likely as older people to feel awkward around disabled people. And one-fifth of 18-34 year olds have actually avoided talking to a disabled person because they weren’t sure how to communicate.

Rio 2016 is an opportunity to talk about disability, challenge attitudes and increase understanding about what life is like for disabled people today.

We’re sharing blogs, films and images from our #30towatch throughout June, and bringing their experiences and expertise into the real world with Twitter takeovers and live Facebook Q&As.

Check out our blog for stories from a whole host of different disabled people from all walks of life who are doing the most extraordinary things. Some of our #30toWatch stories include:

  • Nicholas McCarthy who defied all odds to become the only one-handed pianist to graduate from the Royal College of Music in its 130 year history.
  • Scope supporter, blogger and businesswoman Kelly Perks-Bevington who has just bought a football club. She has plans to turn it into the most accessible club in the country.
  • Holby City star Jules Robertson who has beaten the stigma and attitudes around autism to become a show regular.
  • Natasha Coates, a disabled gymnast who is literally allergic to exercise. She has fought hard to win numerous British titles and is a firm favourite among the gymnastics community.
  • Powerchair footballer Chris Gordon who will be representing England in the World Cup next year.

To stay up to date with these amazing stories, make sure you keep checking out our 30 Under 30 hub page every day throughout June.

A year after the Paralympics, are disabled people still invisible?

BBC News have created a short video asking if attitudes towards disabled people have changed since the Paralympics:

“In London in the summer of 2012, disabled people were suddenly in the spotlight during the Paralympics. But a year on, have they gone back to being invisible?”

Watch the video on the BBC News website

The video features comedian Francesca Martinez, we spoke to Francesca last year about attitudes towards disabled people and how she uses comedy as a platform for change:

An essential foundation

Guest post from Martyn Sibley – blogger, entrepreneur, and co-editor of online magazine Disability Horizons

Did you recently read or hear about David Weir and his housing situation? Despite his huge success he still lives in an awkward and inaccessible house. Imagine, if a 6 time gold Paralympic hero struggles, what is life like for an everyday disabled person?

In general the cost of living is rocketing, incomes are falling and then there’s the fact that life costs more if you are disabled. Then let us take a more specific look at social care. Getting out of bed, getting dressed, preparing food and showering are basic, but necessary actions for us all. Many disabled people are being denied access to this very crucial support.

Richard Hawkes explains this exceptionally well in his New Statesman article. On a personal level, I’ve just travelled the length of this great country and seen some of the most amazing sights of Britain. With my wheelchair, adapted car and 24/7 care support; I’m independent, run my own business and travel the world. However in the past I have had issues securing the funding for these essential foundations to my life.

Of course, this problem is wider than my own experiences. The care system is in crisis, local authority budgets can’t cope and two things are happening: The bar on who gets care is rising, and those lucky enough to get care are seeing their services squeezed and rationed. Furthermore, with an ageing population, this effects everyone of us!

On a political level the Care Bill will be debated by MPs in the commons in late October. The government is attempting to sort this mess out. The big question is who is in and who is out of this system. I fear they are going to set the bar at a very high level.

From government to the general public, from businesses to disabled people; we all have basic needs and deserve to have them with dignity. I just hope we all wake up and act before we reverse the great progress of disability rights in recent years.

Whilst David Weir fights for accessible housing, Hannah Cockroft is fighting for our social care and our future. Earlier this week she supported Scope at a Britain Cares event in Parliament, where MPs could see how important social care is to their constituents.

So #WhatDoYouDoWithYours? Are you similar to me, living your life with some social care support? Let’s get sharing our stories and help people understand why this is so important.
Post with the #WhatDoYouDoWithYours hashtag on Twitter and share the story of what you use social care to do in their lives.

Check out what other people have been saying or find out how to get involved.

National Paralympics Day: join the legacy debate

Saturday is the first National Paralympics Day. It’s one more chance to relive the magic of London 2012.

The spotlight will again be on Queen Elizabeth Park. Here’s a plug from Paralympic Judo bronze medallist Ben Quilter:  “There are elite sport matches taking place at the Copper Box Arena, opportunities to meet Paralympic athletes, come-and-try sessions for people to get involved in, and the fantastic Liberty Festival to experience”.

The milestone is also another chance to ask if the Paralympics improved daily life for disabled people.

To mark National Paralympics Day we’re publishing exclusive new interviews with gold medal-winning Paralympian Sophie Christiansen – who’s going to be at Queen Elizabeth Park this weekend – and Tyler Saunders, who left his job last year to make it in wheelchair basketball.

Paralympian Sophie Christiansen asks ‘Did the Paralympics improve the lives of disabled people?’

Professional wheelchair basket player Tyler Saunders  says “Disabled sports have slipped back into the shadows.”

Here is an interview with Tyler reflecting on a what’s happened since London 2012, and here’s Tyler doing pull ups sat in his wheelchair!

And check out disabled entrepreneur (and good friend of Scope) Martyn Sibley. He’s setting off on an epic journey from John O’Groats to Land’s End in his electric wheelchair. Martyn hopes to raise awareness of the challenges disabled people face and how they can be overcome… even if you’re not a gold medal winning Paralympian.

For Scope it is really important that we ask disabled people about legacy.

The Government had big ambitions for how the Paralympics could change the lives of all disabled people (not just Paralympians), and although legacy is a long term project, a year on is a good time to ask how it’s going.

The legacy debate has been bubbling away for the last month.

In July the Government published independent research. Well known former Paralympians had their say. Scope has been asking disabled people, what they thought, and in August we published a summary of their views.

Overwhelming people said that 2012 was an incredible moment, but that one year on legacy is in danger of going off course as a result of hardening attitudes to welfare and a crisis in living standards for disabled people.

There’s still time to join the debate. We want to hear your hopes for Paralympics legacy and what needs to be done to achieve it. Tell us on Facebook or tweet using #paralympicseffect and #NPD13.

Making independence and inclusion a reality

Post from Scope’s Chair Alice Maynard.

The anniversary of the Paralympics has sparked a nationwide debate about being disabled in 2013. The Government’s hope that the games would improve attitudes to disability has rightly come under scrutiny in the media. I’m just one of a diverse bunch of activists, experts, writers and sportspeople who’ve been touring the studios warning that the divisive scrounger rhetoric undermines any positivity from 2012.

In this blog I wanted to pick up on something that hasn’t had quite the same air space over the last couple of days… the Government’s ambition to get more disabled people involved in sport and the community more widely.

The Government’s independent evaluation points to small increases in participation in sport and the community. But there’s a bigger picture here. As Tanni Grey-Thompson argued recently if you can’t get out of bed or get washed in the morning, you can’t take part in sport and you are not going to be involved in the community. In 2013 there is a crisis in living standards for disabled people. Nearly one in five (16%) disabled people say they cannot keep up with rising costs of living. Disabled people are three times more likely to take out high interest, high risk loans to pay the bills. Yet the Government has stripped away £28.3 billion of financial support for disabled people. Meanwhile 100,000 disabled people are being pushed out of the social care system, with many struggling to get support they need to get up, get dressed and get out of the house. That’s why our Britain cares campaign is calling on people across society to tell the Government they really are concerned – they care – about this issue.

It’s not just adults. At the same time parents across the country tell Scope that too often local services segregate rather than provide support for greater independence and inclusion. The Government must take the lead. And it has two big opportunities: the Care Bill and the Children and Families Bill (which has been the focus of our Keep Us Close campaign), both of which are being debated this autumn.

If the Government wants disabled adults and children better included in sport and the wider community, it needs to end the squeeze on local care and place duties on councils to make local services more inclusive. Scope is one of many organisations making the case for a tougher legislation. But legacy is not just a job for Government, though they have a crucial leadership role to play. We all have to play our part in helping to realise a world where stereotypes and attitudes don’t hold disabled people back, and where inclusion and opportunity is a reality for everyone. Our actions must speak at least as loudly as our words; not always something that comes naturally to charities.

People rightly ask what we’re doing on the ground to create a society where disabled children and adults are better included in their local community. We’re proud of some our new services that are doing just that. Scope is running a pilot where parents of disabled children are supported to pool personal budgets from the council to buy accessible activities within their communities. And we’ve just brought out a toolkit for teachers to support them to better include disabled children in mainstream education.

At the same time we are transforming the more traditional local services we run so that they promote greater independence and inclusion. For instance, we have changed or closed a number of residential care homes in the last few years. This is absolutely crucial, but it’s not something that can be done without a great deal of consideration as it is often hard for the disabled people, families and staff involved. So when we make changes like this, we do our best to do it sensitively and respectfully, supporting everyone affected to understand what the changes mean and what choices are available to them. Where it is no longer appropriate for us to provide support for people, we want to work with the relevant authorities to help ensure that those people’s needs can be properly met elsewhere. We know that many disabled people find the pace of change frustrating and we know that a number of groups will be making this point as part of the ‘Reclaiming our futures’ week of action from Monday. But for organisations like Scope, there’s a real balance to strike between taking the time to manage change properly whilst not using this as an excuse to change too slowly.

To bring it back to Paralympics legacy. Although attitudes underpin everything, I hope we can debate how we better include disabled people in the community. The Government has to take a lead. But charities like Scope can’t simply shout from the side-lines. We have to make sure that we develop our services to embody inclusive education and independent living, however difficult that may be. When we get challenged on this, we must welcome that challenge and use it to help us make progress.

Have the Paralympics improved the daily lives of disabled people?

To mark the anniversary of the Paralympics we wanted to know if disabled people thought London 2012 has improved their lives.

Lord Coe says legacy is a ten year task, but this is a useful point to ask how things are going.

In July the Government argued that the “Games improved attitudes to disability and provided new opportunities for disabled people to participate in society”.

Two well-known former Paralympians – Ade Adepitan and Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson – have recently had their say.

But the views of ordinary disabled people are missing from the debate.

Over the last month we’ve been gathering their comments and opinions – through a poll of a thousand disabled people, through social media and also by looking at what they’ve been telling Scope recently about their lives in 2013.

We think this provides pretty compelling evidence that the Paralympics Legacy hangs in the balance.

There’s lots of ways to tackle the issue of legacy.

But we thought we’d take as our starting point, what the Government said it was hoping for: a change in attitudes and improvements participation in sport and community engagement.

We review these ambitions below and also on the Scope blog publish a collection of quotes and comments from the disabled people we spoke to.

Changing attitudes

Disabled people feel strongly that what’s said publicly is crucial in shaping attitudes. Behind this is the shocking fact that 90% of Britons have never had a disabled person in their house for a social occasion.

So it’s no surprise that disabled people, charities and the Government all saw the Paralympics as an opportunity improve hardening attitudes.

And – in the short term at least – most people think it did just that.

Surveys in the aftermath of the games pointed to an improvement in public attitudes. Lord Coe declared that ‘we’d never view disability in the same way’.

Scope’s new poll backs this up. Some 70% of disabled people think that the coverage of the Paralympic games had a positive effect on public perceptions.

Scope’s chair Alice Maynard describes the Paralympics as “a breakthrough moment”. She says: “Disabled people had never been so visible. Disability had never been talked about so openly”

But where are we one year on?

Recent Government figures show that over half of a sample of the public (regardless of whether they are disabled or not) said the Paralympics gave them a positive view of disability.

There have been moments when – like in 2012 – positive disabled role models have had a high profile in the media. Channel 4 brought back the Last Leg. Comedian Francesca Martinez hailed comedy as the new Paralympics following disabled comedian Jack Carroll star-turn on Britain’s Got Talent.

British double leg amputee and Paralympic Gold medalist, Richard Whitehead, is running a marathon a day this summer from John O’Groats to Land’s End.

But our new poll suggests that despite all this, disabled people remain concerned by public attitudes to disability.

81% of disabled people say that attitudes towards them haven’t improved in the last twelve months – with 22% saying that things have actually got worse.

Of the respondents who have experienced a decline in people’s attitudes over the past year, 84% think media coverage of benefit claims and the welfare system has had a negative effect on public attitudes.

That last point is crucial.

Despite welfare fraud being 0.7% of the benefits budget, the Government regularly contrasts the hard working person gets up early for work, to his benefits claiming neighbour’s whose blinds are pulled.

Cabinet members have had their wrists slipped for misusing welfare statistics. But people continue to think benefit fraud is worse than it is.

Tanni Grey-Thompson recently summed up the impact of the myth that most people who claim benefits are scroungers: “I’ve lost track of the number of letters from disabled people who have been spat at in the street…One letter I received described how a disabled person was in a bus queue and someone came up and started asking them how many thousands in benefits they were costing.”

The Government’s own analysis of 2012 legacy raises this as an issue. Against this back drop, it says: “How long the uplift in public attitudes will last is more questionable”.

That’s why Scope is using the anniversary to call on the Government to halt the scrounger rhetoric once and for all.

Participating in sport and engaging in the community

One important fact first: the 2012 had a huge impact on Paralympics sport. As the head of the British Paralympics Association recently underlined, its profile and its funding are both greatly improved. Paralympians go to Rio with huge confidence.

But for ordinary disabled people the jury’s out.

The Government says “Participation in sport and recreational activity by disabled people increased by 4.2 percentage points in 2012 from 2005/06”.

Sport England says 362,000 more disabled people now play sport than in 2005, but it is estimated that only 18% of disabled adults undertake physical activity for more than 30 minutes a week, and those with impairments are still around half as likely to be active than their able-bodied counterparts.

This is echoed in Scope’s poll, which reveals only 10% felt that the Paralympics had inspired them to take up a new sport or re-visit a sport they once did.

Meanwhile when it comes to volunteering, the Government says: “The Games also opened up a range of volunteering, cultural and sporting opportunities for disabled people that did not exist before. Participation in volunteering by disabled people increased year-on-year to 2012, compared to 2005/06, and 4% of Games Maker volunteers had a disability.

But Research by Disability Rights UK and Community Service Volunteers has found evidence that many people with disabilities are experiencing a surprising level of difficulty in finding volunteering roles.

As Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson said recently: “If you can’t get out of bed or get washed in the morning, then you can’t change the way people think, you can’t take part in sport and you are not going to be involved in the community.”

Disabled people have three big challenges before they even get to the sports club or volunteering centre: getting the basic support from their council, getting about and paying the bills.

Getting the basic support

Disabled people rely on support from their councils to get up, get dressed, get washed and get out of the house.

But councils have been upping the bar for eligibility, with 83 per cent of councils now setting the threshold at a higher level. According to London School of Economics 69,000 disabled people have been pushed out of the system. Support for those in the system is being squeezed. A Scope survey found almost 40 per cent of disabled people who continue to receive social care support are not having their basic needs.

Angela from Luton talks about the impact this has on her.

The Government recently committed to investing £3.8bn in social care and its Care Bill reforms are introducing a cap on costs and national eligibility to end the postcode lottery in care.  But the Government has also said the plans will set as standard the higher level that most councils have moved to. According to the London School of Economics (LSE) this will leave 105,000 disabled people outside of the system.

Paying the bills

Life becomes more expensive if you’re disabled and you’re more likely to be on a low income if you are disabled. Living costs are spiraling and income is flatlining for everyone. But recent research showed just how tough things are for disabled people.

One in ten disabled people have used doorstep loans, compared to just 3% of the general population. Fifteen per cent of disabled people – over double the rate for the public (7%) – use loans to make ends meet.

Here’s Susan from Ealing talking about her financial predicament.

What’s the Government’s response to the financial crisis facing disabled people? It is taking away £28bn of financial support, sticking with both the broken system for deciding if disabled people are entitled to out-of-work support and the discredited Work Programme, which has spectacularly failed to support disabled people into work.

Accessibility

There was an ambition for the 2012 Games to be the ‘most accessible ever’ and TFL in particular took measures to improve accessibility. But in 2013 it remains a fact that 66 of the 270 Tube stations are step-free. ONS data shows that nearly half disabled people have had issues access leisure activities.

Scope polling suggests the real issue when it comes to accessibility people’s willingness to do something different or be flexible to accommodate a disabled person. Last summer 76% of disabled people told us they have experienced people refusing to make adjustments or do things differently. We regularly hear from disabled people who talk about this issue. Buses don’t stop. You’re not let into a club or bar because you ‘look drunk’.

As Scope’s Tom Hall recently told Marketing Week, disabled people and their families represent 20 million potential customers. Both local businesses and big brands should be doing so much more to tap into the £80bn purple pound.

Disabled people and their families debate the ‘Paralympics Effect’

What difference did the Paralympics make to the lives of disabled people? Did it change attitudes? Did it increase opportunities to play sport or volunteer?  Disabled people, their friends and family have their say on whether the Paralympics has made the country a better place for disabled people.

#ParalympicsEffect


Sophie Christiansen OBE
, London 2012 Paralympic Games triple gold medal-winning equestrian, said:
“During the London 2012 Paralympic Games, Great Britain saw what disabled people could do. It was a turning point in perception. However, it was just the start. Just like not every able bodied person is not going to run as fast as Usain Bolt, not every disabled person is going to be a Paralympian. The challenge is now bridging the gap between the disabled community and Paralympians. The government’s initiative for role models is key to this to show that you can achieve in anything, whether it be in business, the arts, sport, academia, media, even if you have a disability.”

Richard Whitehead MBE, London 2012 Paralympic Games gold medal winner, said:
 “The 2012 Paralympics sent a powerful message that a disability shouldn’t stop you from achieving your goals. We hopefully inspired disabled people. We hopefully made the public think differently about disability. For me it’s not about looking back. We need to look forward. You don’t have the Paralympics every day, so how else can we show the world what’s possible once you start living a life without limits?”

Martyn Sibley, co-founder of Disability Horizons, is travelling in his wheelchair from John o’Groats to Land’s End to celebrate the Paralympics effect. He said:
“I was spellbound by the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and it wasn’t just the sport… it was the electricity in the air, it was the collective community consciousness and for me it was about the big bright light put on disability never before witnessed in the four corners of the UK.”

Marie Andrews, 30, from Milton Keynes volunteers two days a week at a centre for integrated living where she gives advice to disabled people. She agrees that the Games changed the way people think:
“I’ve noticed a shift in attitudes since the Paralympics. People in the street are not staring as much, they’re not as judgmental. I think the Paralympics helped the public realise that just because someone is disabled, it doesn’t mean they can’t achieve. They are seeing disability in a new light. Don’t get me wrong, I still get looks but it’s not nearly as bad as it used to be.

Alice Boardman from Lancashire is the mother of two boys with autism aged six and seven. She said:
“I feel frightened for the future with the budget pressure on all services.  It seems we are in a fast accelerating downward spiral with being able to care for disabled people. But the Paralympics has given me huge confidence that disability is slowly becoming more socially integrated and celebrated in a positive way.  It felt like the first event that truly combined the able and disabled worlds in joint appreciation of the talents of disabled sportsmen and women, and I hope this will continue to ripple in a positive way though other areas of society.”

‘Could do better’

Alison Walsh, Channel 4 disability executive, said in response to what more the media should do:
“My answer is just do it. Less talk more action. Be prepared to take some risks with new talent – find people who are right and work hard to develop programmes that are right for them. The Paralympics gave Channel 4 a vehicle for disabled sports presenters but they can’t just be dusted off every four years, and they shouldn’t be confined to presenting disability subjects; they must be developed on as presenters who can work across different sports and all sorts of genres.

“Cast disabled actors in roles not written as disabled characters. Don’t forget to cast disabled contributors wherever you are featuring general public in reality or factual entertainment shows. Stop airbrushing us out! Behind the screen the same – take risks, make an effort to attract the talent. And disabled people – bash down our doors…”

Speaking on the link between comedy and attitudes, comedian Francesca Martinez said:
“I bet Jack Carroll’s jokes helped a few people think differently about what it means to be disabled. Like me, Jack uses humour to challenge attitudes to disability, much in the way that Britain’s Paralympians did with their amazing achievements last summer. A year on from the games, it’s got me thinking: could comedy be 2013’s Paralympics?

“I think disability is normal – it has always existed. It’s not abnormal because it’s part of life. Of course it brings struggles, but many of those struggles come from society’s inability to deal with difference.

“Comedy lets us tackle ‘difficult’ subjects in a light-hearted way. It lets you by-pass the discomfort that bubbles up when people worry too much about what to say. I try to turn people’s fears into jokes, because I find that people are more receptive if you make them laugh. And, do you know what? Disability can be funny! Some people think I’m talking about an issue, but I just talk about my life, which is what every comic does.”

Jane Jones from Cornwall, is the mother of a Jacob who is disabled:
“I feel that while the Paralympics gave families of disabled people hope and inspiration, since then the steady decline of funding and respect for disabled people from many places has made it harder to cope.”

Mandy (via Facebook): “I feel it did make a difference at the time but the attitude is swiftly changing back due to poor reporting making people with disabilities look like ‘scroungers’, or worse. Is this what the government wants?”

Pauline (via Facebook): “The attitudes of many have changed I think on a practical level access, facilities etc there has not been a lot of change and there needs to be more done”

Lizzy (via Facebook): “The Paralympic Games really excited my son he wants to compete but in our area there are no sports for disabled people let alone disabled children. Our local swimming pool is not very accommodating either.”

#ParalympicsFail

Ian Macrae, editor of Disability Now:
“The thing about the Paralympics always was that they happened in this bubble of hyper reality. Real life for disabled people was never going to be like that again. So now here we are with people under threat of losing their social housing homes, others left stranded on a work programme which doesn’t work for them, people dreading the all-too-real eventuality of losing a disability benefit.”

Jenny (via Twitter): “Paralympics showed us great achievements but #ParalympicsFail as government and media give scrounger image”

Angela Murray is a disabled former volunteer of the year from Luton she said:
“There’s no middle ground in the way the media think about disabled people: we‘re either lazy benefit scroungers or people to be pitied. I don’t want the public thinking I’m sitting at home demanding benefits but neither do I want people to be sympathetic to the point of patronising.”

“I’ve had people look down on me and say stuff like ‘do you think you can’t work just because you use a wheelchair?’ But at the same time I’ve had people say ‘of course you can’t work, you’re in a wheelchair.’ Neither attitude is helpful.”

“I remember one interviewer being really impressed with me. He practically told me I’d got the job before the interview was over. But I saw his face change when I asked him to help me get out of the building because I couldn’t get through all the doors. That was it. I knew I had no chance.”

Pauline (via Facebook): “No decent member of society can possibly agree with what is happening. It is undoing all the good that the Paralympics did to change attitudes. Life is so difficult for everyone it should not be made even more so for some members of our society who need and have a right to financial help.”

Helen (via Facebook): “Any positive attitudes the games produced has disappeared because of how the Government and the media are portraying disabled people as benefit scroungers and workshy within their welfare reform hype.”

Rebecca (via Facebook): “Rubbish – and given the fact that many Paralympians will face losing their DLA over the coming years, their “opportunities” are likely to decrease, rather than increase. And as for public perceptions – seeing superhuman paralysed people or amputees running/swimming etc, just made many people say “well if HE can do that, why can’t you…?”

John (via Facebook): “My sons special needs school has lost its sports field don’t get me started in this subject, I only have to walk into Starbucks to find teenagers mocking my 13 year old son with regards to his disability.”

Paula (via Facebook): “No definitely no improvement. I was told by someone that being disabled I should look to the Paralympics to see what I could achieve if i tried. My husband can ride a bike but he’s no Chris Hoy…..”

Loretta (via Facebook): “No attitudes haven’t improved. Sport is still extremely exclusive. My son has no provision to play tennis competitively as he has cerebral palsy and autism. Advice from the LTA is to put him in a wheelchair so he can play wheelchair tennis as they don’t cater for other levels of physical impairment!”

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