Tag Archives: Care Bill

Lesley’s story: My day centre funding is under threat

Guest post from Nick Duquemin, Stories Assistant at Scope.

I spend a lot of my time interviewing disabled people and their families. Many use council-funded social care, and almost everyone I’ve met is worried about how cuts to services and funding are going to affect them.

When I arrive at Lesley’s home one Monday afternoon, her mum, Jan, tellsPicture of Lesley me she isn’t home yet. Routine is very important for Lesley, 45, who has Down’s syndrome, and she couldn’t bear to miss a moment at the Goldhay Arts day centre in Peterborough.

Lesley’s been going to the centre five days a week for the whole of her adult life. She chose it because she loves to act, dance and do art, and it is her main source of social contact. She has friends there whom she has known for two decades.

Jan holds down two part-time jobs, which she fits around her daughter’s needs. Lesley gets frightened if she is left alone in the house for too long. Without day care, Jan would be unable to work.

But Lesley and Jan fear they will soon lose this lifeline. Peterborough City Council, which funds Lesley’s day care, currently supports people, like Lesley, whose needs have been assessed as ‘moderate’.

Now it plans to raise that threshold to a higher level, ‘substantial’, which means that only those with more urgent care needs will receive funding.

Lesley and her mum are worried she will lose her place at Goldhay Arts if she is reassessed as being of moderate need.

Jan has had to fight on countless occasions to make sure Lesley gets the care she needs, but she is dreading this latest battle. Worst of all is the uncertainty.

“You seem to hear a different thing every time you ask,” she says. “It could be that next week we get a letter saying she hasn’t got a place.”

Lesley arrives home and proudly shows me pictures of her family, including her dad and her stepdad, both of whom have passed away.

Then she brings down more photographs from upstairs – this time of herself, dressed up at the arts centre’s summer ball and performing in talent contests on holiday. Jan stresses that Lesley’s confidence comes from her time at day care, and Lesley agrees.

“All my friends would miss me if I’m not there, and I can’t make new friends. I’ve got lots of friends at Goldhay Arts; I’ve known some of them for 18 years,” she says.

I’d be bored, I hate staying in. I’d be sad – a lot. I’d be scared if anything goes wrong, because I love that place.”

Lesley’s day care gives her a link to the outside world, and it means she can live her life as she chooses.

Without it, she and Jan would feel very alone.

How do you use your social care? Share your stories on Twitter using the hashtag #WhatDoYouDoWithYours and follow other people’s stories.

The Care Bill is back and politicians are starting to listen

The Care Bill returns to the House of Lords tomorrow.

Social care has been a major focus of Scope’s collaborative campaigning work in the past year because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reform a care system in crisis.

We know that thousands of disabled people are struggling to get the support they need to live independently, without access to basic care to help them eat, wash properly and leave their homes.

Now 83% of councils have set the threshold for care at a higher level and they expect things to get worse.

We have tried to be as vocal as possible on the issues we know that disabled people care most about – changes to Disability Living Allowancethe impact of the cutsthe flawed Work Capability Assessment, support for disabled children, attitudes to disability – to create public pressure and hold the Government to account.

With the Care Bill back in the Lords, social care is back on the agenda. We have been working closely with disabled people, disabled people’s organisations and the Care and Support Alliance, a coalition of over 70 organisations, to make sure that the system supports those who need it.

The good news is that politicians are starting to listen to us.

In the summer, the Chancellor found £3.8bn in June’s spending review to start to tackle the crisis. When nearly everything else was being cut, social care was one of the only areas to benefit from additional funding.

We have been campaigning hard so that those who need it most have access to an independent advocate. Again, the Government has listened to and acted on these concerns.

Other welcome changes to the Care Bill include the requirement that assessments must be carried out by people with specialist expertise in certain circumstances, and that councils must take on board the importance of promoting well-being when commissioning services.

We have all fought hard for these wins.

It has been an incredibly difficult climate for charities of all kinds to campaign effectively – not just disabled organisations, but all those affected by cuts.

We still have a long way to go on the Care Bill. But the wins above show how powerful it can be when disabled people and organisations large and small come together to get behind focused campaigns, which will result in real, tangible change.

But we know that the more people there are campaigning, and the bigger range of voices, the more likely we are to achieve change.

It doesn’t just have to be big charities – it can be people like Angela, whose one-woman Save Social Care petition has been supported by nearly 50,000 people and led her to Downing Street. Or the WOW Petition campaign challenging welfare reform which has been backed by over 60,000 people. It’s about the power of our combined impact.

There are many experienced, talented and innovative people out there, who we know we can learn from – and who don’t necessarily agree with us on everything.

That’s why we recently launched the Game Changers community, to crowd source the best ideas for our ambitious next campaign.  We want to hear people’s views and be challenged constructively.

So come add your voice and let’s get the much bigger change we all want – together.

The bedroom tax, ATOS and social care at the Labour Party conference

Guest post from Megan Cleaver, Parliamentary Officer at Scope.

It was the second leg of Scope’s conference tour last weekend when the Labour Party headed to Brighton for their annual gathering.

It was an important week for Labour disability policy as the Party published their Making Rights a Reality (PDF) report which included two key announcements.

After a long running campaign against the ‘bedroom tax’, a measure which will cost over 400,000 disabled people between £624 and £1144 per year, Labour Leader Ed Miliband promised delegates that they would scrap the policy if they got into power in 2015. This is a welcome move as for many disabled people, a spare bedroom is not a luxury, but an essential- needed for specialist equipment, or so their severely disabled child can sleep separately from their siblings.

And there was more good news from Shadow Welfare Secretary Liam Byrne who committed to ending the Government’s contract with ATOS, who currently undertake the Work Capability Assessment (WCA). But while there are countless horror stories around the behaviour of ATOS assessors which has provoked the ire of many disabled people, the blame cannot be pinned squarely on them for the failings of the WCA.

As we said to Liam Byrne, Shadow Disability Minister Anne McGuire and Shadow Employment Minister Stephen Timms at conference, if Labour is seriously committed to getting disabled people into work, and not just off benefits, there needs to be a complete rethink of the whole assessment process to ensure it addresses the many barriers disabled people face when it comes to finding a job. Just handing a P45 to ATOS is not enough.

Arguably the most transformational policy announcement to be made at conference was Andy Burnham’s vision for ‘Whole Person Care’, paving the way for the full integration of the health and social care systems with one service (with one budget) coordinating a person’s physical, mental and social needs. This vision is an exciting prospect for disabled people who are facing their own ‘social care crisis’, often falling through the cracks between the NHS and social care system.

In his leader’s speech, Ed Miliband likened the scale of the ambition of ‘Whole Person Care’ to that of the creation of the NHS is 1948. But like much of the debate on this issue, he framed the reforms to social care purely as a means of solving the care crisis for older people. But when a third of social care users are working-aged disabled people, it is vital that the care system works for them.

As Paralympian Sophie Christiansen highlighted in her speech at the Women and Equalities discussion panel (where she received the first standing ovation at Labour Conference), getting the right social care was vital to her being able to live independently and train to become a gold medal winning equestrian.

Social care is the cornerstone of independence for disabled people. It gives them the vital support which enables them get up, get washed, get dressed so they can go to work, get involved in their local community, and reach their potential. And this is the message we will take to the Conservative Party as the Scope conference tour makes its final stop in Manchester.

Read our previous blog from the Lib Dem conference.

Disability, care and the living standards debate at the Lib Dem Conference

We want to get across two important things to politicians during this conference season. Our first chance came in Glasgow with the Lib Dems. The first was to make sure MPs are prepared for the Care Bill, set to enter Parliament in the near future. The second was to draw attention to the crisis in living standards that is facing disabled people.

One of the Lib Dem’s own themes for their conference (… accidently leaked to journalists) was ‘achievement in Government’, and it would be sensible for them to point in the direction of social care reform as an area that they have made a difference. The Care Minister, Norman Lamb MP, is a Liberal Democrat, as was his predecessor Paul Burstow MP.

Together they have pushed through the first ever single legislative framework for social care in the Care Bill. And for this they have received much praise. But Scope’s big concern with the Bill – and that of the Care and Support Alliance – is that too many disabled people will be locked out of receiving formal care by an eligibility threshold which is too high.

This point was made again and again to Norman Lamb in fringe meetings about social care. I ended up heading to events with the Minister on the panel for five straight hours on Sunday evening. At each and every event he was asked about the new national eligibility criteria and why this must not be set too high – as the Government currently intends.

Encouragingly – by 9pm – he recognised that ‘there is a debate about where the eligibility criteria should be set’, and it was another reminder that we need to keep up the pressure on the Government through the Britain Cares campaign.

It seems like the local pressure is increasing as well, with the Bradford Cares campaign also visible at the conference, most notably at a fringe event from the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors.

The question of ‘living standards’ was also a key theme of the conference. Scope’s research with Demos shows that between 2010 and 2017, 3.7 million disabled people will have lost £28bn in social security. There were thought provoking fringe meetings from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Child Poverty Action Group, Resolution Foundation and Liberal Left.

It seemed to me that the idea that the next election will be one fought on ‘living standards’ is being accepted amongst Lib Dem MPs and members. There was certainly much discussion about what the next Lib Dem manifesto would include to push up living standards.

At one fringe meeting, Frances O’Grady of the TUC said, “it is expensive to be poor”. The same is true for disabled people who are disproportionately likely to be vulnerable from financial shocks. Scope will be making sure that throughout the rest of the conference season, disabled people are front and centre of the living standards debate.

Five reasons why social care is STILL the biggest issue facing disabled people

1. The social care system is on its knees. Social care is the support disabled people get from their council to get up, get washed and dressed, and live independently. Cash-strapped councils have been upping the bar for support eligibility, with 83% 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. And councils are squeezing the support for those that are in the system. A Scope survey found almost 40% of disabled people who continue to receive social care support are not having their basic needs met including eating properly, washing, dressing or being able to get out of the house. ADASS says councils are facing a further 10% cut in their budgets. Have a listen to Angela Murray explain why social care is so important to her. Take away the preventative support and people fall into crisis. A series of experts and politicians made the link between the escalating A&E crisis and social care over the last six months.

2. Britain Cares about social care. Over the last six months the public has been showing it cares about social care. The Stephen Fry-backed Britain Cares campaign has seen over 25,000 people contact their MP about social care for disabled people – a thousand of whom have sent personalised photos to show they care. At the same time Angela launched a petition on Change.org, which has received more than 45,000 signatures. A similar petition on 38 degrees garnered just as much support. Those will passion for craft have worked the words ‘I Care’ on to everyday items and sent them to their MPs to show their support.

3. £3.8billion. The June Spending Review saw the Chancellor make significant cuts across Government departments – to reach a target of saving £11.5bn, including removing automatic pay rises for time served for staff in schools, NHS, prisons and the police. Against that backdrop he announced a £3.8 billion investment – including £2 billion of new money – in social care with the aim “of delivering better, more joined-up services to older and disabled people, to keep them out of hospital and to avoid long hospital stays”.  The Government announced this money would be spent through Health and Wellbeing Boards. This is significant as it was the mechanism a Scope-facilitated joint inquiry by the All Party Parliamentary Local Government Group and All Party Parliamentary Disability Group recommended in its report Preventing Crisis: Making social care reform work for disabled adults. This should enable the money to be spent on front line services, reacting to local demand.

4. We’ve now got the small print. Some of the cash can go into the main social services kitty (or black hole judging by ADASS’ latest budget survey). But there are conditions attached, that demand councils to spend most of the money on joined-up health and social care.  Councils and health services have to agree plans for how it will be spent, which then need to be signed off by Health and Wellbeing Boards. The Government also wants to see joint approaches to assessment and care planning and, where care is joined-up, one accountable professional. Cash should also be targeted at supporting patients being discharged from hospital who need care. Most intriguingly councils only get the extra cash if they retain their eligibility threshold at the current level. This is very much a case of the Government addressing what it sees are the most urgent issues, while it goes about making the case for the Care Bill.

5. The crucial question is who gets care and who doesn’t. The Government will answer this as part of the Care Bill, which has had its first set of debates in the Lords. Under the current plans – reiterated by the Minister in a discussion guide, which also gave a clue as to how eligibility would be worked out. The good news is that some of the detail of how the Government will decide eligibility looks good. The bad news is that the Government intends to set the bar for eligibility to social care at a level which London School of Economics (LSE) says will leave 105,000 disabled people with significant needs outside of the system altogether. The bill also seeks to tackle the crisis in care by introducing a cap on costs, a new means-testing threshold and national eligibility to end the postcode lottery in care. It is due to be debated in the Lords in October and then it’s over to MPs at the end of the year. Scope – like a number of organisations – is arguing that by squeezing people out of the system the government undermines other more positive moves, such as a cap. We’re also expecting a consultation in November which will be a chance for disabled people, carers, families and public to have their say.

Persuading 150 people to join Britain Cares

Guest post from Sophie Colman who works for the Exeter National Citizenship Service, a project for 16 and 17 year olds to build their skills for work and life, take on new challenges and meet new friends.

Exeter blog photo

Would you believe that a group of 16 and 17 year olds with no campaigning experience could get 150 people to make a difference in just two days? Nor did many of our Exeter National Citizenship Service at the start of our five-week campaign.

A light bulb went on

The programme began with a stay at Bicton College.

Now, if you put a group of teenagers into a room and ask them to pay attention for a couple of hours while it’s bright and sunny outside, it doesn’t always work. But when Karin Gray from Scope told us about the difference the organisation makes to the lives of disabled people, a light bulb went on in many of our minds.

After the talk, our group decided to help out with Scope’s Britain Cares campaign. It really spoke to us.

Making T-shirts and booking Otters

We started planning straight away and came up with the idea of going out into Exeter High Street and telling the public about Scope and their campaign. We designed T-shirts that said, “I care, do you?” for our photo action. That was in line with the campaign’s aim to show the government that Britain Cares about everyone who needs social care getting it.

While the more artistic made T-shirts, the rest of us contacted people to secure a place to campaign, prepared campaign materials and booked the Exeter Otters – a wheelchair basketball team who kindly agreed to come along and demonstrate some passing routines. This helped us get a lot of photos for the campaign.

Amazing public response

Finally, it was time to put on our smiles, get out there and sign people up to the online petition. Most of us were slightly scared about going up to strangers, but we were astounded by the positive response. The Otters performed brilliantly, and people listened to every word and saw how enthusiastic we were. We managed to sign up 150 people.

Overall, the campaign went much better than we thought. I would campaign again for Scope, as I know it would help many people in the future.

A massive thank you to everyone who helped us make this project possible, everyone who signed the petition and to our project leaders for putting up with us!

Join Britain Cares

It’s really easy to join the Britain Cares campaign by uploading a photo.

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.

5 unexpected tools for the keen campaigner

Petitions, letter writing, provocative slogans on t shirts…the essentials when campaigning on social change. Throw in a few media stunts with over-sized props and you’re looking at a campaign win. Maybe…? Here at Scope we’ve been trying out some tactics that aren’t as common when campaigning – and learning a lot along the way.

As we’re recruiting for a National Campaigns Officer, we’ve been reflecting on some of the unexpected tools we’ve used so far…


1) Glitter

Arguably a useful resource to have around whatever you’re doing, last Christmas we proved that glitter can also be a powerful campaigning tool.  Also essential was glue, and over 1,800 stars with wishes for better support for disabled children. In December we found that glittery wish stars could be the magic ‘thread ‘ so often sought by campaigners – tying together a key policy ask with a media- worthy action that resonates with the public and all while catching the attention of decision-makers.

It was all part of the Keep  Us Close campaign, aiming to ensure that disabled children and their families  get the support they need close to home. The Wish Stars were displayed on a 20ft Christmas Tree at a Parliamentary reception, and then sent onto MPs afterwards – from whom we got many positive responses: “the stars have pride of place in my office in Westminster”. They even made it onto the Guardian.

Why it works: Creative delivery and meaningful messages, together with a clear destination for campaign actions (a Parliamentary Christmas tree, say) should never be underestimated.  Neither should the power of glitter.

Exmouth cropped photo

2) 236 till points

Charity shops. Great places to pick up a bargain, and maybe leave with a warm glow knowing you’ve donated to a good cause. A place to lobby influential decision makers? To learn about key issues affecting disabled people today? Surprisingly yes – the charity shop till point ranks highly as one of the most important tools for a Scope campaigner.

In the past year, Scope customers have sent over 43,000 campaign postcards to MPs on key campaign issues. The shops dedicated a month each to Scope’s key campaigns in October and again in May, with posters throughout the shop and staff and volunteers encouraging their customers to sign campaign postcards that were sent to their MP – and they did, in their thousands. And with the card-signing came valuable conversations. MPs also visited the shops, showing their support for the campaign and encouraging local media coverage.

The response from Scope customers to the campaign issues was overwhelmingly supportive. Speaking to our customers about our priority campaigns makes sense – it allows them to learn about the issues facing disabled people today, and how they can play a role in improving the situation.

Why it works: MPs often need to hear about an issue from a large base of people, and shop staff want a way to engage with their customers and share more about the work that Scope does. The perfect match. And there’s potential to do a lot more.


3) 300 flat pack boxes

Searching for reasonably priced flat-pack ‘fold at home’ gift boxes online is a tricky business. There is a surprising array of colours, dimensions and sizes available.

Why was I searching for a suitable ‘memory box’? It was January. We wanted a campaign action that wasn’t ‘make a new year’s resolution for change’. MPs needed to hear a strong, memorable reminder that family time together was precious. The Children and Families Bill was about to go into Parliament, MPs had already received emails, shop-postcards and wish stars on the issue.

Asking people to share a fond family memory with their MP turned out to be a good decision. We had a brilliant response in just three weeks (even in January!) and the memories people shared were heartfelt and meaningful – from sandwiches on the beach with Nan to long car journeys and Christmases together. Some people even shared photos. We packaged these memories into the freshly-folded boxes, tied them up with string and hand-delivered them to MPs.

Why it works: Often supporters have meaningful messages to add to a campaign, you just need to ask. Create an interesting space for people to make their actions unique and then do the message justice with creative delivery. And remember that MPs want to hear personal stories.

4) “Hi, my name is…”

Okay this one seems tentative, but bear with me. Meeting other people isn’t that radical – but finding campaign allies can often be overlooked as a priority. In the past year, we’ve had great success building relationship with others – across Scope departments, and with other organisations – and we need to keep at it.

Scope donors now regularly support our key campaigns. They’ve received emails, postcards, and even their own pre-made wish stars – so they can support Scope not only with their generous donation, but also with their influencing power.

We’ve worked with our Scope service Activities Unlimited on the Keep Us Close campaign (involving a Fun Day with a LOT of glue and glitter). We’ve introduced MPs to parents of disabled children via our Face to Face service. All of these activities depended on building a good relationship – and making an effort to understand the aims of others and how working together can strengthen them. And there’s always more to do.

Why it works: Working with others isn’t new – but is it essential. Our supporters won’t pigeon–hole themselves – so neither should we. Shop customers, parents, donors – they can all take part in a campaign, so it’s our job to work together and make it possible, and keep learning to make the partnerships better and better.

all_soap (350x263)

5) A bar of soap.

The social care soap may take the prize as the most unusual tool so far. But if you’re intrigued, there are plenty of soap bars still being decorated to send to MPs as part of the Britain Cares campaign. And socks. And cards.  So you can join in! Again, it’s about being able to show MPs that this is an issue their constituents really care about. But this time the creativity doesn’t come from Scope – it comes from the crafter themselves – who adds their ‘I care’ message in their own way. While they’re busy stitching, gluing or carving into soap, they automatically invest time in their message, and can contemplate what they’re saying and why. Increasingly we hear that MPs need to know the messages they receive are meaningful– so creative campaigning seems to have a very important role to play.

Why it works: It’s fun, it can be therapeutic, it creates a personal message and catches the attention of MPs with its uniqueness. What’s not to like?!

There are plenty of tools that didn’t make the final 5 – telling a story with animations or compelling case-study films, working with partners from large corporates to local groups. And there are still more tools to be discovered for the next, and most ambitious campaign that Scope has planned. The possibilities are open.

Maybe you could be the one to create them…?

You can apply for the Scope National Campaigns Officer role here.

Crafting our way to change

On Tuesday night, as rain was falling across London, there was a quiet revolution going on in a cafe near Kings Cross. Amid china teacups and origami cranes suspended from the ceiling, vintage furniture was gradually getting covered in paper, glue and sparkly pompoms.

The London cafe Drink Shop Do is used to being a hub of creative activity, with evenings that range from biscuit decorating to Lego building. But on Tuesday evening, craft was in the name of social care.

The Britain Cares campaign, which has already seen support from over 27,000 people, is calling on the Government to ensure that 100,000 disabled people receive essential social care support to live their lives. Under current Government plans, they’ll be denied it.

This is why a group of crafters, varying in experience, gathered to prove to politicians that not only are the current plans unjust, but that people in Britain really care about the issue. And they intend to prove it…with pompom-embellished socks. The 25+ crafters who met on Tuesday, marking the beginning of Britain Cares: Britain Crafts week, spent their evening adding ‘I care’ messages to socks, soaps, coasters and even tote bags.

Craftivists with 'I Care' tote bag made as part of Britain Cares: Britain Crafts

As you can see from the photos, their creativity was limitless – and this is exactly what is needed to catch the attention of MPs, with meaningful messages that people have spent time creating, calling on them to really think about the issue, and take action.

Using craft for activism may be increasingly popular, but it’s not new.

If you’re not familiar with crafty activism, or ‘craftivism’ here’s the lowdown:

What is it?

Betsy Greer coined the term ‘Craftivism’ as:

“A way at looking at life where voicing opinions through creativity makes your voice stronger, your compassion deeper and your quest for justice more infinite.”

The Craftivist Collective point out that craft + activism = craftivism, and they aim to show that ‘making people aware of the injustices and poverty in the world can be joyful as well as empowering and fulfilling.’

Why would I do it?

Craftivists say that as a campaigning method, it can be very satisfying. Making time to think about the issue is always refreshing, and craft encourages you to really consider your message.

It’s great that online activism has allowed us to campaign at the click of a button, but it can be overwhelming if you’re actually asked, ‘Why does this issue matter to you?’ Pause. In that frame of mind, when swiftly sending a pre-prepared email, it can be difficult to stop and really think about why what you’re doing matters. For me, craftivism is the self-initiated ‘pause’.

But isn’t this urgent?

Like many steps out of the ordinary, it can feel counter-intuitive:

‘Quick! There’s a crisis going on! We must shout loudly!’

Using craft doesn’t take away the urgency – it allows you to contemplate why the issue is so urgent and consider the most powerful and meaningful way to make change. It puts the power back in the hands of the campaigner – quite literally. Sometimes sitting and thinking about how we could create something that really gets across why we feel a certain way can be the most empowering way to use our voices.

Time is important

It doesn’t mean we can rest on our laurels. Timing of action is always important. But actually, the time it takes to make something is part of the process.

Time is our most democratic and precious resource, and should be valued by those on the receiving end. By investing my time in something I really care about, I hope my MP will respect the action all the more, and feel that he is also valued as my representative.

I’m not sure my MP will really be convinced by craft

With all campaigning we have to ask what will have an impact. Scope already knows that delivering messages creatively can make an impression. As part of our Keep Us Close campaign, MPs received hundreds of wish stars and family memories, making them realise how significant the issue was.

Giving something as an ongoing reminder is personal and long-lasting. One MP told us, ‘The wish stars now have pride of place in my office in Westminster’.

Britain Crafts

So when an MP receives an ‘I care’ sock or soap this week, they’ll be reminded of the 4 in 10 disabled people who receive social care support that does not meet their basic needs like washing or dressing. And each time they have a cup of tea and replace their mug on a coaster made by one of their constituents, they will be reminded of how this issue is important to that constituent – and that they have asked them to take action on their behalf.

This weekend, could you make sure your MP knows how much you care about social care? By spending half an hour creating a message, you can enjoy the benefits of crafting, really thinking about the issue AND proving to your MP that you really care about social care – and that you’re not going to stop at an email.

Everyone’s getting involved. Even the cast of Downton Abbey!

Ema, who is disabled and struggling to live the life she wants to lead without social care, is making a pencil case for her MP with ‘I Care’ beading. In her film she talks more about living what she describes as ‘a half-life’. As Ema says, ‘social care is worth fighting for’ and if that means decorating hundreds of bars of soap, we’re up for the challenge.

Writing 'I Care' on a card with soap nearby

Bradford shows its support for Scope’s Britain Cares Campaign

“I’m scared about my future. I don’t know if the support I need will be there when I am older.”

Bradford group pictureThese were the words of a disabled woman who attended the Bradford Cares launch. She echoes the concerns of many disabled people throughout the country who receive social care support and who have experienced reductions in levels of support or increased charges in recent years.

Bradford Cares was held on July 15 in the Bradford East constituency of David Ward MP, who organised the event:

The event was inspired by Scope’s Britain Cares Campaign which has attracted from the backing of people up and down the country eager to support the campaign by posting over 1000 “I care” photos onto our website and show how much they value the vital role good social care plays in the lives of millions of disabled people. By coming along to the event, the people of Bradford showed that they cared too.

The Bradford Cares Summit was attended by over 100 disabled and older people and representatives from DPOs. Participants had a chance to discuss their own experiences of social care and their concerns for the future. Guests were also able to browse the various stands for advice and information, and many took the opportunity to visit the Scope stand to find out more about Britain Cares and to have their photograph uploaded onto our website.

During the event there was a panel session offering the audience the opportunity to put forward their concerns on social care. I was there, representing Scope as the Community Campaigns Manager, along with David Ward, Paul Burstow the former Minister for Social Care and Keith Nathan, Chief Executive of Bradford and District Age UK.

There were many probing and difficult questions put to the panel on the future of social care. Some focused on funding, whilst others were concerned about tightening eligibility, fearing they would no longer qualify under the proposed National Eligibility framework.

As a wheelchair user I was fortunate to be able to speak of my first-hand experience of social care and as someone who has worked over a number of years on policy and campaigns to improve care provision.

People should be concerned about the future of social care but they should also welcome the fact that the topic is higher up the Government agenda than it has ever been before.

We need to engage more in effective dialogue with politicians and care providers. We need to use less of the jargon of ‘eligibility criteria’ and talk more about the difference the right support makes to someone’s life.

Why not hold your own Britain Cares event to show how much good social care means to your community? Contact us at hello@britaincares.co.uk