Speaking up for change

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This is an article from Unfold newsletter.

Disabled people have told us what changes they would like to see in their lives and we have worked together to create a bold five year plan for change.

You helped us listen, now you’re helping us act.

For the 13 million disabled people in the UK, life today is much harder than it needs to be. They still face barriers to getting the support they need – at home, in education and at work.

So we have been listening to disabled people and their families, like Aslam, Ricky and Cath. They told us about how the challenges disabled people face are changing. And to overcome those challenges with them, we’re changing too.

We’ve developed a new five-year plan for change. It focuses on three areas which disabled people have told us matter most. And it’s all about delivering everyday equality, so that we all have the same opportunities in life by 2022.

Aslam – “ I tried to carry on, but I struggled with everything.”

A man and woman smile with their disabled daughter who is a wheelchair user

15-year-old Kinza has cerebral palsy. She’s happiest in front of her favourite TV show – a typical teenage girl. But like many parents of disabled children, her dad Aslam was fearful about her future.

“I wanted the best for Kinza,” Aslam says, “but I was worried about what lay ahead. There was no one who understood what I was going through. Without that support, I got so upset.”

Many parents feel the same way. Eight in 10 families with disabled children are anxious and stressed because they can’t get the support they need.

But you were there for Kinza and Aslam. Through our family support service, funded by your gifts, we put Aslam in touch with Dave, the parent of another disabled child.

Because Dave was in the same boat, he understood Aslam’s worries – and he knew how to ease them. “Dave’s experience gave me strength,” says Aslam. “He offered really helpful advice, and I feel much more positive now. I’m also in a better position to support Kinza.

“Without Scope, Kinza wouldn’t have achieved everything that she has. She’s concentrating, she’s communicating, she’s happy, she laughs.”

That’s why it’s crucial for families to have the right support, at the earliest opportunity.

One area of focus for our five year plan is making sure disabled children get the best start in life.

Ricky – “I felt more anxious than words can describe.”

Two men share a coffee in a cafe

When Ricky started at university, he not only faced the challenge of making new friends in a new environment, but as he’s blind he also needed to find his own carers to give him essential everyday help.

Ricky hired a care agency, but they weren’t up to the job. “Sometimes carers turned up without warning, which is so confusing for someone who can’t see,” says Ricky. “Other times I sat in my room alone for 24 hours a day.”

You might be shocked by this, but Ricky’s experience is all too common. Half of all disabled people don’t have access to the social care they need to live independently.

Ricky didn’t let this hold him back. He graduated with a 2:1, and now he’s doing an Masters at a different university. This time he recruited his carers independently, not through an agency.

“Now I get the social care that I need, in the way that I need it. I have loads more control and flexibility, and it has transformed my university experience. Everyone deserves to live a life of dignity and autonomy and to be themselves – no matter what.”

Ricky’s story shows why disabled people should always be in control of their own lives.

Another area of focus for our plan is supporting disabled people to live the life they choose.

Cath – “Life cost me an extra £10,000 last year.”

head and shoulders of woman looking at camera smiling

Cath pays a heavy price for her neurological condition. “I had to spend an eye-watering £7,600 on my powered wheelchair, which came out of my savings,” she says. “Then there was £3,000 for a folding wheelchair for my car, and even more for a stair lift at home.”

And Cath isn’t alone. Life costs more if you are disabled. On average, disabled people spend £550 a month on disability related costs making it harder for many to pay the bills or cope with unexpected events.

Cath is playing her part in changing this, by speaking at political events to raise awareness of extra costs. “I strongly believe that discussion with disabled people is vital in policy-making,” she says. “I can tell that the message is getting through.”

Driving down costs is a priority for us, too.

The final area of focus for our plan is supporting disabled people to become financially secure.

Thank you

You’re ensuring that disabled children like Kinza have the best start in life, by improving their opportunities and building the resilience of their families.

You’re empowering disabled people like Ricky to make decisions and have control, so they can live the life they choose.

And you’re supporting disabled people like Cath to become financially secure, by helping us drive down extra costs and opening up opportunities for work.

Day by day, side by side, we’re driving change and getting closer to a society where disabled people have Everyday Equality.

Stick with us and stay updated on the progress we’re making, with your support.

We’re listening

We would love to hear your thoughts about our new five-year plan. What changes do you want to happen, so that disabled people have Everyday Equality in the next five years? How would you like society to be different by 2022? You can tell us by emailing supportercare@scope.org.uk.

Scope exists to make this country a place where disabled people have the same opportunities as everyone else. Until then, we'll be here.

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