Well what a fabulous week we’ve had, with our first Trendsetters workshop, all about dealing with bullying. Way back last year our Trendsetters told us that they wanted information about bullying, as many of them had been affected by bullying behaviour. It’s taken a while to get it organised but with the help of Kidscape we held a workshop at our London offices last week, where eight of our Trendsetters learnt about bullying behaviour and how to deal with it, including some useful practical strategies.
The Kidscape trainer got all of us involved in the role play, and everyone took an active part in sharing their stories and their experiences. Feedback from the Trendsetters at the end of the day was very positive and we are all looking forward to sharing what we’ve learnt on the Scope young people’s web pages soon, so that other disabled young people can learn the same strategies.
Workshops like these mean that we are much closer to being able to give young disabled people the information they want, about the subjects that matter to them, and in a format they can access.
Well done everyone who took part… and watch this space for updates on other parts of the project.
Post from Alice Maynard, Chair of Scope
One month before heartbreak blog from Chair of Scope
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is important to me and millions of disabled people up and down the country. It was created because, quite simply, it costs more to live as a disabled person. Those costs may be a direct result of someone’s impairment or condition – such as extra heating – or a result of the environmental barriers that disabled people face in everyday life that make day to day living more difficult, like not being able to get on a bus, or having to make expensive phone calls to get information about access to services.
But as you probably know there are plans to cut the overall budget by a fifth. The government’s hurried consultation on DLA reform closes next month. The chances are we will have edged closer to a system that supports fewer people. More people could find themselves in greater isolation, further from their local community and employment opportunities, and pushed towards greater dependency on the state and other services like the NHS.
One of the simple things I do with the care component of my DLA is to pay extra for vegetables that are already prepared. If I lost this I would need more social care support to help me prepare food – and the total cost of that is around £10 an hour. Some quick arithmetic shows that DLA for diced carrots is by far the cheapest option to keep me independent and healthy. Put pressure on this allowance and all the creative ways in which we disabled people manage our impairments start to break down.
The government is starting from the right principles. They have retained the emphasis on independent living and the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) – DLA’s potential successor – will not be means-tested. But this needs to be backed up with practical and sensible reforms. This is a great opportunity to completely overhaul the DLA assessment process and develop one based on the barriers that people face in their day-to-day lives and the additional costs that we face as a result.
Since the DLA was introduced, the nature of those barriers has changed. Some – many physical access barriers for instance – have been addressed, but others – access to internet based services, for instance – have come along instead, and we need to understand their impact on disabled people. But, it looks like the PIP will end up having an assessment based on ‘functional ability’ that falls well short of that. An opportunity missed.
And buried in the overall reforms are some iniquitous proposals. The government’s plan to cut the mobility component for those living in residential care is tantamount to imprisoning these disabled people. The government presumes that transport is covered in care packages paid by local authorities for people living in residential care but in most instances this is not the case. The impact of doing this will be devastating for many. As one disabled person recently told us:
“It would completely take away my independence. My sense of dignity as a person and my life as a normal citizen of my community would both be destroyed if I lost my independence.”
The government is right in its desire to reform DLA but for the reform to be effective it must understand why it costs extra to live as a disabled person and what DLA enables us to do. They desperately need to rethink some key areas and:
• Reverse the 20% cut in the overall budget
• Take longer over the consultation – really get to know how important DLA is and the difference it makes to our lives.
• Develop a test that takes into consideration what stops us fully participating in society and what we have to spend to overcome at least some of the barriers – our extra costs.
It’s great that so many disabled people are blogging today to make their voices heard; I hope the government is listening, because there is still time for them to get it right.
Looking for something new to do in the new year? How about volunteering in one of Scope’s shops?
Last year, 7,874 volunteers across Scope donated 1.7 million hours of their time. Many of them worked in one of our 247 shops in a variety of roles. See the types of volunteer roles on offer.
It was bitterly cold when I left my cosy computer to volunteer at my local Scope shop but I received a warm welcome from Thatcham shop manager Marlene Dredge, who has 34 volunteers, including disabled volunteers from Mencap Link and people doing community service, but can always use an extra pair of hands.
The Thatcham shop is the top seller of Christmas cards in the Berkshire area, having sold over one thousand packs. The shop also won third place in the window display competition in the Kingsland Centre this year – not bad considering the display was made with donated goods and no budget!
The volunteers love dressing up and recently created a winter wonderland with resident characters such as the Ice Princess, Snowman, Mrs Santa and Bah Humbug.
Although it’s a fun atmosphere, Marlene keeps everyone busy! That morning, there were more takeoffs at Thatcham than at Gatwick airport – Marlene took 334 items of clothing off the show floor to send for sale to the Petersfield shop. Folding and bagging clothes is quite tiring but worth it to keep the stock fresh for the shop’s many regular customers who help raise upwards of £2,000 a week to fund Scope’s work.
Despite horror stories of soiled (that’s being polite) clothing, nappies and sanitary towels (why? What’s wrong with the dustbin?), most of the donations we received on the day were clean, saleable and of good quality. A house clearance caused a bit of a panic in the small stock room – we could hardly move for stuff but Marlene says, “We accept everything, except bulky furniture, electrical items and husbands with suitcases!”
Nevertheless, we were relieved when the textiles lorry made it through the snow from Kent to take away the rags we couldn’t sell! Find out what Scope shops want.
The highlight of my day was meeting Violet, who comes in every afternoon to work on the till and keep the bric-a-brac stocked up. She set up the original Spastics Society shop in Thatcham over 20 years ago and still is full of enthusiasm for volunteering.
Volunteer for Scope shops and, like Violet, you will have the satisfaction of knowing you are making a vital difference to our work with disabled people.
You’ll learn new skills and gain retail experience as well as meeting new people and becoming part of a team.
You could also gain:
- Professional qualifications
- Community spirit – feel part of your local area
- Disability awareness – you’ll learn more about Scope’s work
- Paid work – learn about and apply for job vacancies at Scope
If you would like to volunteer, please contact your local Scope shop to discuss your interests and find out which roles are available.