Tag Archives: campaigning

Meet the campaigners and storytellers making equality for disabled people a reality

Today is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD). The theme this year is “Transformation towards a sustainable and resilient society for all” and the UN agenda pledges to “leave no one behind”. But far too often, disabled people are left behind and it doesn’t feel like our society really is working for all.

Scope’s new strategy is focused on everyday equality but we can’t do it alone – it requires a collective effort of everyone working together. On IDPD, we’re highlighting some of the amazing campaigners and storytellers we’ve been working with this year.

Shani is tackling extra costs

From expensive equipment to higher energy bills, disabled people and their families pay more for everyday essentials. Support to meet these costs, such as Personal Independent Payments, often falls short. When you face so many extra costs, it can stop you from being able to go out and do things like everyone else.

Shani smiling, stood on a cobbled street

That’s why Shani launched the Diversability Card – a discount card for disabled people. As well as helping to alleviate some of the financial pressure, it also aims to be a catalyst for change by raising awareness of the value of disabled consumers. Find out more about extra costs and the Diversability Card on the website.

Will is campaigning to make public places accessible

Last year, Will made a short film to highlight the poor disabled access found up and down our high streets. As a wheelchair user,  he wanted to demonstrate how frustrating this is from his everyday perspective. He also wanted to draw attention to the fact that businesses are losing multiple paying customers.

The film went viral and thousands of people signed his petition. Alongside his job as a games developer, Will has continued campaign on accessibility – attending events in Parliament and speaking on TV. Read more about Will’s campaigning in this blog.

Christie is raising awareness to change negative attitudes

Christie’s daughter Elise is a happy, smiley two year old girl who has cerebral palsy. Elise has a bright future ahead of her because Christie is determined to overcome any barriers they face. Barriers like negative attitudes, expensive equipment and inaccessible playgrounds.

Christie is a Scope storyteller and local campaigner and she also shares their journey through her page ‘Elise Smashed It’. She hopes that by raising awareness she will educate people, create change and help other parents and children with cerebral palsy.  Find out more about Christie and Elise’s achievements on their Facebook page.

Dan and Emily are tackling the lack of disabled characters

When Dan’s daughter Emily asked why there weren’t any wheelchair users on TV, he knew that something had to change. A wheelchair user herself, Emily always wanted to find characters and people that she could relate to, but they were so hard to find.

Dan, an author holding up his comic book, poses with his daughter Emily who uses a wheelchair

Together, they created The Department of Ability comic book, featuring a cast of superheroes whose impairments are their greatest superpower – and Emily has a staring role! Read more about Dan and Emily’s adventures in their blog.

Carly is making sure autistic women and girls are safe and supported

Carly is an Autism advocate and speaker. She wasn’t diagnosed with autism until she was 32, after years without support, feeling “like a second class normal person” and being told that “autism only happens to boys”. When two of her daughters were diagnosed, she noticed a huge lack of understanding when it came to autism and girls, and she’s been working to change that ever since.

Carly wearing sunglasses and a top that says autistic girl power

From her own experiences, Carly knows that there are serious consequences to not being diagnosed and she has dedicated her life to making sure women and girls are protected and supported.

As well as speaking and networking, Carly has been to the UN to ensure the rights of autistic women and girls are protected and she created a free online safeguarding course. She’s also passionate about changing attitudes towards autism and runs  events for autistic children, where they can invite anyone they like. Find out more about Carly’s story on her website. You can also buy Carly’s book about autism and girls.

If you want to get involved in campaigns or storytelling, get in touch with the stories team. You can also find out more about our current campaigns on our website.

“Yes I Can, If…” – campaigning for better disability access

Will Pike is a games developer from London whose parody of Channel 4’s Superhumans advert has gone viral with over half a million views. Tens of thousands of people have signed his petition to ask the two high-street chains which feature in the film for better access.

In this blog, he shares the story behind his campaign and talks about the changes he’d like to see as a result. A text description of the video is available at the end of this blog post.

In 2008 I went to India, on the way back home we had a stop over in Mumbai and the hotel I was staying in was attacked by terrorists. 168 people died, my spine was injured I am now paralysed below the waist.

I’ve been in a wheelchair for eight years now and in that time have been through ever emotion under the sun. I have days when I just can’t be arsed with the barriers and negative attitudes. I made this film because too many shops and restaurants are effectively off limits to wheelchair users like myself.

Inspired by the Paralympics

After the London Paralympics I was expecting there to be a big shift in places becoming more accessible but it just hasn’t happened. Two weeks before this year’s games started I approached my friend Heydon Prowse about the idea and he got a team of people together to produce the film. Errol Ettiene directed  it and did an incredible job, the team turned a good idea into a slick, professional-grade commercial.

It tops and tails with Paralympic references because I wanted to show how day to day life can feel like Paralympic event for a wheelchair user. But whilst the whole thing was inspired by the Paralympics, these issues still remain for disabled people now the games have ended. This is bigger then just me having a unique experience, this is a global issue indicative of a massive absence of consideration for disabled people. My experiences aren’t isolated and sharing them makes them more powerful and potent. It turns individual struggles into a social issue.

The film isn’t in any way a criticism of the Superhumans ad, but it could only ever do so much. Channel 4 started a relay race about disability awareness and they passed the baton on. They didn’t know who they were passing it on to, but it just so happened it was me. I’m leveraging the awareness their brilliant ad created to further the message. My film couldn’t exist without theirs and whatever success we get is their success too.

Will sat on a sofa against a brick wall

The petition

I’ve been asked why I chose to focus my petition on American Apparel and Caffè Nero and the honest answer is, it was just their lucky day. We were filming on Tottenham Court Road and it just so happened they were the shops that didn’t have wheelchair access. But it was also important that we didn’t pitch this campaign at one-off shops because whilst they have a responsibility, it’s the big chains that have a major responsibility and the ones who are neglecting their civic duty. It could also have a domino effect across all their stores.

It’s not that people are fundamentally thoughtless, it’s just that it’s simply not in the social conscience to be considering these things. It’s only when someone comes along and questions access that things will change.

The people I spoke to in the film felt bad and wanted to help but they are purely innocent in this whole thing. It’s the companies they work for who are responsible for disability access and inclusivity. It’s irresponsible to expect hapless shop assistants to have to deal with that situation. I hope American Apparel and Caffè Nero can see it from that perspective too, it will protect their staff from these embarrassing and awkward situations that they shouldn’t have to go through.

Reasonable adjustments

The Equality Act states that all buildings and public places have a responsibility to make reasonable adjustments to ensure disabled people are not disadvantaged when accessing their services.

However, in terms of holding public places accountable, it’s actually down to the customers and patrons of that establishment to draw attention to their inadequacies. If that premises doesn’t then do something about their lack of access or facilities, that person is then responsible to bring them to court. Which basically means that all those people with disability – who may or may not have had their benefits cut, or are finding it difficult to gain employment, or even struggling to leave the house – are the ones who must embark on an inevitably time-consuming and costly legal case.

We really hope that this film, though aimed at Caffé Nero and American Apparel, is able to shine a light upon a flawed and, frankly, ridiculous system. It should not be the responsibility of each and every disabled person to flag up a high street chain; it should be the responsibility of the Government and Councils to assess disability access, educate businesses, and ensure funding is in place for reasonable adjustments.

People may think little things like step-free access won’t make a difference to the majority of the population, but it makes a massive difference for a selective few which in turn has a positive influence on the relationships we have with non-disabled people. In turn the whole community will be accessible and better for everyone. And that’s where the #AccessForEveryone hashtag came from.

Will in his wheelchair outside a restaurant where there's a step

What’s next?

We just have to wait and see! I haven’t been contacted by Caffè Nero or American Apparel, but I wonder whether someone is going to bring it to the big bosses. One way I’d like that conversation to go is that the big boss turns round and says: “Are you telling me we haven’t got step free access in our Tottenham Court Road branch?! Right, heads are gonna roll!” That’s far fetched but I am an optimist at heart.

Both brands have a real opportunity to turn this bad situation good by handling it well. If they acknowledge they were wrong and make changes they can come out of this smelling of roses and will get so much good publicity from this. I will be giving them every chance to handle this magnanimously, with humility, and with a real ownership. But if they don’t, we will do everything we can to highlight their ineptitude.

They really can lose a lot of business because of this. Some people have been commenting saying they will boycott these shops until they make a change and if that becomes the consensus, if that becomes the rallying cry, then together we can change a lot.

You can visit change.org to sign the petition or follow Will’s progress.

Will’s story is also a great example of disabled people being ‘bold and loud’ as consumers – something called for by the Extra Costs Commission. Led by Scope, this was an independent inquiry that looked at ways to drive down the additional costs faced by disabled people. Next month a report will be published reviewing progress with the Commission’s recommendations for tackling extra costs.

Video description: Paralympics billboard, zooms into the word “superhuman”. Alarm clock turns to 7.00am. Man laid in bed opens his eyes, sits up, and smiles. He spins around his bedroom in his wheelchair. Plays plastic toy trumpet. Dances into the bathroom. Sits in the show, miming the lyrics into the shower head. Puts a shirt on, grabs his hat with a reaching tool. Leaves his house, flipping hat onto his head. Wheels down the a busy high street. Tries to enter Caffè Nero, wheels crash into a step. Tries to enter Pizza Express and speaks to a waitress about accessible toilet facilities. Does a wheelie and dances down the street. Goes into American Apparel and talks to staff member. Wheels into a pub, stops himself at a flight of stairs. Then wheels down the ramp, sits with a friend both clinking their pint glasses. Text reads “Leaving the house can feel like a paralympic event for wheelchair users. change.org/accessforeveryone”.

I want people to have a say in the future of our country

30 under 30 logo

This story is part of 30 Under 30.

 

Alice is a keen campaigner and star of our Scope for Change training program.

As part of 30 Under 30, she shares her experiences of the program, how it has given her the confidence to run her own campaigns and why it is important that everyone uses their vote in the EU referendum.

I’ve been interested in activism ever since my dad introduced me to grassroots politics as a kid. He took me to my first demo when I was twelve years old and I’ve been hooked ever since.

I love the way direct action works, how it unapologetically demands our voices be heard. Change will never come about whilst we are unwilling to engage in the system, despite how broken it may be. Direct action gives us the opportunity to challenge and offer an alternative.

Alice, a young disabled woman, smiles at the camera with her dad

Getting the tools I needed

I had never organised my own campaign until I joined Scope For Change. I applied to the program last year and I was over the moon when I found out I had been accepted. We are a group of twenty-two young disabled people all interested in activism.

In March we attended a ‘bootcamp’ where we had extensive training on how to run a successful campaign. We were taught a wide range of tactics from how to utilise social media to getting the support of politicians. This training not only gave me the tools I needed, but also the confidence!

Running my own campaign

Currently I am running a campaign to encourage people in my neighbourhood to vote in the EU referendum. Engaging people in politics is something that I am passionate about. Too many people bury their heads in the sand and become ever increasingly apathetic. I can understand why this happens, I too have little faith in our current political system.

However, I believe referendums give the electorate a rare chance to participate in a form of direct democracy and we should be excited about this opportunity!

Our community is one which doesn’t have much of a voice in society. We live in social housing and the vast majority of us can’t find work because we are disabled. We are often judged and not listened to.

The aim of my campaign has not been to tell people how to vote but to empower them to go out and exercise their democratic right. I wanted people to know that not only does their opinion matter, but that it is significant and can make a difference.

A pile of leaflets relating to the EU referendum. They say "Should we stay or should we go?"

A unique opportunity to have a say in the future of our country

Over the last few weeks I have made hundreds of leaflets and posters explaining how to register to vote and why it is so important to do this. I have printed these in a large font and on coloured paper to make them as accessible as possible. Two of my lovely neighbours have been wonderful and helped me deliver these. I have assisted people to sign up who would have otherwise struggled to do this independently. Door knocking has also played a big part as some people are unable to read English, this has sparked conversations and it’s been interesting to hear how people are voting and why.

Throughout my campaign I have emphasised that we will not be voting to elect someone to represent us, but are being asked a direct question. Should we remain in the EU or should we leave? This is a unique opportunity to have a say in the future of our country and we should embrace this.

On 23 June, I have arranged a meeting place for local people to gather at various times throughout the day. We will be walking to the polling station and voting together. I believe this will encourage people, especially those who are unsure where the polling station is or are unfamiliar with the process. I know some of my disabled neighbours will really struggle to do this independently and my hope is that voting collectively will provide the support they need.

I have always been an activist, but Scope have given me the confidence I needed to run my own campaigns and I can’t thank them enough for this gift. I plan to run many more in the future which I hope will be as successful as this one promises to be!

Alice is sharing her story as part of 30 Under 30. We are sharing one story a day throughout June from disabled people who are doing something extraordinary. Visit our website to read the stories so far.

Are you voting in the EU referendum? We want disabled people to have a clear understanding of their voting rights and options. Read our blog about voting and elections for more information.

From Nike to Manchester United, brands are listening to disabled people

There have never been so many different ways to influence decision-making at all levels of society. Social media allows disabled consumers to have a direct conversation with brands and companies. They are taking notice.

Manchester United

Martin Emery is a life-long Manchester United fan and a father to three sons. Zac who is five years old, Ethan who is seven and Jordan who is now 18.

Jordan has a number of medical conditions, which means he has learning difficulties, has many seizures a day and uses a wheelchair.

Martin and two boys outside Old TraffordMartin was initially told by Manchester United that he couldn’t seat his family together, and Jordan could only have one carer with him.

Things then got worse before they got better.

A club official emailed Martin to say: “there are some clubs that would welcome you with open arms and possibly ask you to bring as many family members as possible, the downside is it wouldn’t be at Old Trafford, most probably Rochdale, Oldham or Stockport”.

Undeterred, he set up a campaign and website United Discriminates and kicked it off in a blog a year ago.

Read Martin’s blog on the campaign.

The good news is that by the end of last season United had constructed a new accessible seating area for disabled fans, families and friends.

Consumers speaking out

Iconic high-street brand M&S recently launched an online range of bodysuits, sleep suits and vests with poppers in additional larger sizes. That was on the back of a Rita Kutt, the grandmother of a three-year-old Caleb, who has cerebral palsy, contacting the retailer. Read the discussion Rita set up on Scope’s online community.

They had difficulty finding clothes to fit him, as he uses nappies and is fed through a tube in his stomach.

Caleb’s family then set up a Facebook page called M&S and Me: Special Needs Clothing for Children, which now has more than 4,500 members.

When M&S wanted to test their new designs we arranged for parents from our Scope community to trial some sample sizes with their children. Their feedback helped to shape the products.

The new range of clothes cost between £3 and £7, cheaper than similar items of clothing for disabled children currently available in the market.

The influence of social media is growing

Social media allows individual consumers to have a direct conversation with brands. Nike developed an easy grip trainer in response to an open letter from a 16 year-old boy with cerebral palsy.

Lego introduced disabled characters after they were contacted by Toy Like Me, a Facebook campaign run by a disabled mum, who realised that there weren’t enough toys representing disabled people and children.

A growing number of businesses are taking action in response to the Extra Costs Commission, an independent inquiry that last year found daily life costs more on average for disabled people. In response to the report, ride-sharing app Uber launched UberAssist in the UK, a service that allows disabled passengers to call specially trained drivers.

Thinking about what disabled consumers need makes sound commercial sense

There are over 11 million disabled people in the UK and their spending power is over £200 billion a year.

In February, ticketing agent The Ticket Factory following complaints from disabled customers upgraded its booking system to allow disabled people to buy tickets.

Barclays Bank has launched a new portal on its website that supports businesses to make their services and products more accessible to disabled people.

What we need now is even more companies to listen to disabled consumers and recognise the power of the purple pound. Let us know in the comments below if you’ve come across any brands going the extra mile for their disabled customers. 

New year, new goals: what change will you make in 2016?

Have you given up already on all those New Year resolutions you made?  Here is one promise which we can help you fulfill: help change the world in 2016 by applying to our campaign network Scope for Change.  There is only a few days left before applications close so what are you waiting for?

We usually find ourselves searching for ways to lose weight and promise to get fit,  learn another language or finally get around to clearing out that store cupboard which makes us want to scream each time we open it to cram yet another unwanted household item inside.

Be realistic

My own  goal for 2016 is to try a new experience each month. I have to admit to taking the easy option at times so each of my new experiences don’t necessarily involve vigorous exercise!  It may be visiting a new place or learning a new skill without having to put too much pressure on myself. Whatever happens, 2016 won’t be dull.

You never know where campaigning will take you

Sulaiman posing for a photo with Baroness CampbellOne of the things I love most about my job in campaigning is the exciting challenges and opportunities I have to work on exciting in innovative campaigns such as Scope’s A-Z of sex and disability  which had me Tweeting all manner of content that I never thought I’d be doing.  This is the wonderful thing about campaigning, you  can never tell where it will take you.

Change your world in 2016

I love a challenge, and we are sure you do too.  This is why Scope is offering campaigners who are passionate about disability equality issues and aged between 18 and 25, the opportunity to learn new skills and improve your existing campaigning tactics.

Our Scope for Change campaigns network will offer you training on the best use of film, social media, story telling, Blogging, Vlogging, tactics, strategy and planning to make your campaigns stand out from the crowd.

You will also be supported throughout the course by expert campaigners and be supported by  Mentor who will offer support and advice throughout your campaigning journey.

2016 is the year to make that change in your world  so please apply to join us on this exciting adventure.  Who knows where it might lead? The applications close on 17 January, so what are you waiting for?  Who knows it might lead?

“Dignity is for everyone, everywhere, always”

It’s the summer holidays, so plenty of time for family trips! But what if you can’t go anywhere, because you won’t be able to use the loo?

Changing Places campaigns on behalf of disabled people who can’t use standard accessible toilets. They need changing places toilets which are publicly accessible with enough space and the right equipment, including a height adjustable changing bench and a hoist. Here Sarah, a campaigner for Changing Places explains why it’s so important. 

I’ve been a Changing Places campaigner for four years. I became involved in the campaign after taking a young woman with profound and multiple learning disabilities I supported on a flight, only to realise that there was nowhere to change her once we arrived at the airport. I am a learning disability nurse and fighting the corner for people with a learning disability is something I do every day. I find no other campaign more worthy of my time.

Changing Places are fighting for the most basic of rights, the right to use the toilet. That’s right, there are many people out there, who daily, are being denied this right. Over 250,000 people in the UK need a changing place. A changing place differs from a standard disabled toilet as they are publicly accessible with enough space and the right equipment, including a height adjustable changing bench and a hoist.

Two images, on showing a father with his disabled child lying on a mat on a toilet floor, and one with a mum helping her disabled child in a hoist in a much larger changing room
On the left, Alfie and his Dad having no choice but to use the toilet floor. On the right, Margaret and her daughter Julie use a changing place. Photos by Clos-o-mat. 

Karen says “it’s impossible to go out, because of the lack of changing places, my son is too heavy for me to lift even try changing him on a floor of a disabled toilet is impossible.”

Often without a changing place families and carers have no option but to change their loved ones wherever they can, and often this will be on a toilet floor.

Margaret, a Changing Places campaigner says, “It’s changed my daughter’s life and mine. She can’t stand or walk so can’t get onto a toilet. We had to lie her on wet, smelly, dirty toilet floors. At airports we had to change her on baby changing room floors, the immigration room floor and the prayer room floor. It was more than a mother could tolerate, so I made it my ambition to change things.”

Our request is simple. For larger businesses to join our cause and install a changing place. Often without a changing place families do not go somewhere simply because they cannot. Would you go out knowing the second you needed the toilet you would have to come back home?

A big bright clean changing places room with a hoist, changing bed, toilet and chairs
The changing places facilities at East Midlands airport. Photos by Clos-o-mat. 

Businesses are not just missing out on the quarter of a million people who need these facilities, but are also missing out on the support and custom of their families, friends and carers. As the Extra Costs Commission report recommends, businesses need to listen to and understand the needs of disabled consumers, and recognise the power of the purple pound. They might just find that they could reap the rewards.

I’ve been running the Facebook page behind Changing Places since 2011 voluntarily. We are a community of campaigners, families, carers and more importantly people who are in desperate need of these facilities themselves. We fight daily for dignity, accessibility, and equality, but I do wonder why in 2015 this is still a battle. Please join us in making the world a better place for the most vulnerable people in our society; dignity is for everyone, everywhere, always.

The UK has 750 changing places, and counting.

Have you had any similar experiences? Or have you used a changing place? How did you find it? 

Our kiss caused a car crash #EndTheAwkward

A kiss, a snog, a smooch, a smacker: whatever you call it, kissing really does make the world go round. But if you’re disabled, kissing can be seriously awkward.  

We talked to Marie about what happens when she puckers up in public with her husband Dan. Marie’s story is shared as part of Scope’s End the Awkward campaign

Marie and Dan smiling at the camera on their wedding day
Marie and Dan on their wedding day

So here’s the scene. Dan and I had just started dating. It was midnight and we were on the way home from the pub, holding hands. Dan’s into astronomy so we stopped to look at the stars. What could be more romantic on a beautiful evening? A kiss seemed like the natural thing to do. After a moment, I became aware that a police car was driving past very slowly.

The officer was staring out of the window – eyes on sticks – like we were committing some kind of crime. He was concentrating so hard on us that he ended up mounting the pavement and crashing into a street sign. We couldn’t believe it! A few seconds later we heard the wail of the sirens and he sped off, clearly embarrassed.

We have to laugh, we really do

We still laugh about that incident now. We have to laugh – if we took these things too seriously it could start to mess with our heads. I can’t tell you the number of times people have bumped into lampposts or tripped over on the street because they are too busy staring at me. I can only assume the stares are because they are weirded out by disabled people.

There’s this assumption that we should all be lumped together in some big institution and not let out in public. So when they see us, they can’t quite believe their eyes that a guy who isn’t disabled could have fallen in love with me.

Marie pushes her baby's pushchair along using her wheelchair and Dan walks alongside
A day out in the country with their baby, Mark

A couple of months ago, Dan and I were somewhere, I can’t remember where. We were minding our own business, when we overheard a lady in her 50s talking to her friend about us. She said, “That just isn’t right, she’s the size of a child”. It hit us quite hard, Dan especially. Being seen as a paedophile simply because you’re holding hands with your wife… well, it’s awful isn’t it?

We often hear people making noises when we’re affectionate, like “ugh, what are they doing?” It should be fairly obvious, right? People don’t blink an eyelid if they see any other couple kissing in the street but because I’m in a wheelchair and Dan’s not, we become an immediate target.

If Dan and I aren’t being affectionate, it’s a different story. Trying to convince people he’s my husband takes some doing. One time, a hospital consultant asked me if Dan was my dad! When I said no, she presumed he was my brother, then my uncle, and finally my carer. I let her go on and on before she petered out. It’s that absolute assumption that because I’m disabled I couldn’t possibly have a love interest.

Marie and Dan sit on their sofa, cuddling baby Mark
Family time at home

It is an interesting British prudishness, I think. On the continent no-one seems to give it a second thought. On a trip to Holland, we booked a disabled hotel room and got a complimentary bottle of wine and chocolates left on the bed. In the UK, we usually get two single beds in a disabled room, or a single bed and a pull-out bed for the ‘carer’.

If you’re reading this on International Kissing Day, I hope you get to kiss someone you love today. I’ll definitely be kissing my hubby. And I won’t care if people look because I’m in love and I’m happy.

Read more awkward storiesDo you have an awkward story to share? Submit your awkward stories, and we’ll publish our favourites on our blog and social media. 

Find out more about how Scope is ending the awkward this summer.

“Shopping with my son and wheelchair in tow is a challenge.”

Claire is a mum to Daniel who is six. Daniel has profound and multiple learning difficulties. Claire has discovered a great solution for taking her son on their weekly food shop and wants everyone to campaign for better trolley access.

As a mum, taking my son to the weekly shop is a really common thing. But, shopping with my son and wheelchair in tow is a challenge.

I really struggle with both the standard and disability trolleys that are available in most supermarkets. Neither provides my son Daniel with the trunk support that he needs. It is also impossible for me to lift him in to a standard trolley. He’s just too heavy and tall now.

This leaves me with very few options. I could do my weekly shopping online, leave Daniel at home while I go shopping, or settle for buying what I can carry as I push his wheelchair.

I am sure that this is a familiar story to many parents of disabled children up and down the country. All of this changed for me when Sainsbury’s rolled out the GoTo Shop trolley to 650 of its larger stores.

The GoTo Shop is an adapted trolley for disabled children that provides extra postural and head support and a secure five-point harness. The GoTo Shop Trolley keeps Daniel safe and secure on our weekly shop.

The GoTo Shop Trolley has been a revelation for us, it makes life so much easier and Daniel actually really enjoys our shopping trips.

I think every family with this a disabled child should have the opportunity to use a GoTo Shop Trolley, this is the reason why I became a GoTo Shop Trolley Champion.

I am very lucky I have two Sainsbury’s stores near to me, but I like having choice. I love collecting my Tesco Clubcard Points, you can’t beat the Asda Mother and Baby Events, Marks and Spencer for little treats and Lidl fruit and veg every time. So you see, I’d like every supermarket in the UK and Ireland to have a GoTo Shop Trolley.

If you’re looking for a supermarket with GoTo Shop Trolleys, you can use the Firefly Finder App.

How to get involved

If like me you’re a parent of a disabled child, who would love to have the option of shopping where and when you want to, then we need to work together to tell every supermarket about the difference a GoTo Shop Trolley can make to our lives.

All you have to do is print out and add your name to this leaflet (PDF) and hand it in to your local supermarket managers.

Let’s raise awareness of the challenges we face in our daily lives as parents of disabled children. By showing how simple solutions can make a huge difference to families like ours we can encourage all our supermarkets to provide GoTo Shop Trolleys.

If you’re not a parent or carer of a disabled child, don’t worry! You can still get involved. Support the #GoToShop Trolley in #EverySupermarket by using our ‘Friends of’ leaflet (PDF).

You can read more about the Firefly Garden GoTo Shop Campaign on their website.

The lives of 100 disabled people and their families – #100days100stories

Leading up to today’s General Election, we wanted to get politicians thinking differently about disability.

So for the last 100 days we’ve shared 100 compelling, moving and at times, shocking stories from disabled people and their families.

We’ve worked with our story-tellers to share their stories with their local candidates – reminding politicians of the big and varied issues disabled people are facing.

No ‘typical disability story’

Young disabled woman modelling a white dress, sitting in a wheelchair in a garden
Disabled model Hayley-Eszti.

Disabled lawyers, actors, models, travel writers, campaigners, entrepreneurs and politicians are among the 100 who have shared their stories.

We’ve heard about people’s attitudes, volunteering, communication aids, finding work, going to festivals, hate crime and what it’s like getting older.

We’ve also heard stories about hearing dogs, working with disabled people in the community and fostering.

Parents, sport and young people

Parents have shared their stories about communicating with their disabled children, juggling their jobs with looking after their kids, what it’s like spending a lot of time in hospital and the importance of peer support.

Sport and fitness has played a big part in many people’s stories – we’ve heard stories about wheelchair fitness, cycling, the Paralympics, golf and marathons.

From prison to the Paralympics: Craig shared his story
From prison to the Paralympics: Craig shared his story

And young people like Holly, Felix, Chloe and Nathan have shared their stories about their lives, aspirations and the challenges they’re facing. And young disabled campaigner Charlie told us what he would do if he was Prime Minister.

An overwhelming response

In the last 100 days we’ve had about 140,000 views of our story blogs and films, a huge increase from our usual blog and film viewings.

Our most popular story of the whole campaign was Carol’s, about life with an invisible impairment, followed closely by Alexandra’s story about being offered a termination while pregnant, and Jean’s story about getting a job with the bus company she made a complaint to.

Woman with glasses smiling
Carol’s story was the most popular of the campaign

We’ve had an overwhelming response to the stories on social media – nearly 60,000 people have liked, clicked, commented or shared the stories on Facebook and the hash tag #100days100stories has been tweeted more than 1,000 times just in the last month.

One Facebook supporter wrote: “This series is just brilliant. I have used several of the blogs as part of my MA research project. Keep sharing stories everyone. People need to hear them.”

In an article about charities’ pre-election campaigns, The Guardian wrote “we’ve especially liked how Scope has put its service users at the front of the campaign and enabled them to tell their story in their own words”.

girl smiling and holding a cat
Anna shares her story of countless hospital visits with her daughter Scarlett

Getting political

The campaign has allowed our story-tellers to connect with politicians in a very direct and personal way.

There have been some great responses to people who have taken part in the campaign from existing MPs and prospective parliamentary candidates. Hearing directly from constituents always resonates far more with both of these groups.

Today’s the day to have your voice heard

Woman sitting in a wheelchair, with a grey carigan and short dark hair, smiling at the camera
Rosemary urges disabled people to vote

Scope challenges politicians of all parties to improve the lives of disabled people – just as we have always done.

We’re calling on the next Government to raise disabled people’s living standards by supporting more disabled people into work; addressing the extra costs of disability and improving the support disabled people get to live independently.

It’s really important that politicians hear from disabled people – as Rosemary explains in her story. So today’s the day – go out, vote and have your voice heard!

Find out more about Scope’s priorities for 2015.

Take a look at all the stories we’ve shared during our 100 days, 100 stories campaign

If I was Prime Minister – #100days100stories

Every day for the 100 days leading up to tomorrow’s election, we’ve published the story of a disabled person or parent of a disabled child. On the final day of our campaign, we asked Charlie Willis, a young disabled campaigner with the organisation Independent Lives, what he would do if he was Prime Minister.

There are more than 11 million disabled people in the UK. As the 2015 General Election dawns, disabled and non-disabled people alike will be voting tomorrow for those candidates that they feel will best represent them in the Houses of Parliament.

If I were Prime Minister, I would hope to be able to use the position to improve the lives of disabled people. With this in mind, there are four changes I would immediately propose, broad ideas with one common theme: empowerment.

No. 1: A diverse governmentCharlie at a computer

Firstly, open up positions of power to different identity groups. A government should be representative of the people it supports, including identities formed around race, gender, sexuality, class and disability.

The present situation is far from this ideal: the diversity in our country is not fully reflected in the diversity of the Government.

By improving this, the country can start to champion the needs of the many, rather than the needs of the elite few, by fair and equal empowerment in terms of rights, visibility, opportunities and respect.

No. 2: An accessible country

Secondly, make spaces accessible for all. Accessibility is not just about ramps into buildings, but about all spaces being adapted to public need. Many disabled people still experience significant barriers to transport, buildings and the countryside.

Disabled people with varying impairments should always be included in the design process of new transport and the building of accessible lifetime homes.

This would work towards a Standard of Accessibility, by reviewing the accessible standards of building regulations to include hearing loops, quiet rooms or Changing Places toilets. By making everywhere accessible, people are empowered to get involved and have a voice.

No. 3: Empower peopleCharlie standing with a stick next to a poster

Thirdly, protect independence through welfare. Some disabled people are feeling the effects of changes to welfare, personal budgets and constant reassessments of need.

For those who rely on support to live their lives, the consequences of further cuts could be severe.

A tax on the richest people in the UK, and higher corporation tax, would ensure a future for the welfare state with adequate benefits for all that required it. Local authorities, the NHS and schools would have more money.

This would protect those with the most substantial need, empowering others to live more independently, being able to afford true choice and control.

No. 4: A change in attitudes

Lastly, reform attitudes within, and outside, government. In recent years disabled people have been repeatedly scapegoated and victimised in all areas of society. Representations of identity groups are linked to the behaviour towards them.

Images in the media that show disability are often manipulated and disabled people are represented as “weak”, “faking it”, or “scroungers”. Perhaps as a result, disability hate crime is on the rise.

Therefore, education needs to be inclusive of difference. The world of disability is a reality that everyone, at some point, will come into contact with, but is seldom taught about.

Representing disabled people in a more positive and radical light will end this manipulation and allow the creation of individual, empowered, identities for all disabled people.

Final thoughts…Charlie talking to a woman

Ultimately, disabled people and the organisations that empower them need to focus on the fight for independent living, and move the discussions in government towards preserving our civil rights.

Disability is a political issue. As Prime Minister, discussing issues around power, accessibility, protecting independence and our attitudes towards disability would help all people, not just those with impairments.

Independent Lives is a user-led charity supporting disabled people in West Sussex and Hampshire.   

Find out more about our 100 days, 100 stories campaign and read the rest of our stories so far