Tag Archives: chair

Channel 4 films take awkwardness to a new level #EndTheAwkward

We’ve been working in collaboration with Channel 4 to produce a series of short films for our End The Awkward campaign. As Scope’s Chair Andrew McDonald  explains in this post, “they take ‘awkwardness’ to a new level.”

Seated man smiling
Andrew McDonald, Chair of Scope

You might recognise the moment. You meet a disabled person in an everyday situation.

You want to be friendly and helpful. But you don’t know how. And so you shy away from the interaction. Or you panic and end up causing embarrassment to yourself and the disabled person. The last thing you wanted to do.

As we bring back our End the Awkward campaign this year, we wanted to address these situations – and the attitudes which give rise to them. Our polling evidence is clear; surprisingly few of us knowingly engage with disabled people.

The message of the campaign is straight forward; the more of us who know disabled people, the less likely we are to be awkward. There is no single right answer on how best to act around our disabled neighbours or colleagues. The most important thing is to be willing to try, to learn and not to shy away.

We launched our End the Awkward campaign last year. It featured the star of Channel 4’s The Last Leg, Alex Brooker – and it made a real impact, reaching more than 20 million people.

This June we began sharing disabled people’s ‘awkward stories’ on our blog and in the media. On 6 July we marked International Kissing Day (no, I didn’t know about it either) by showing a short film demonstrating that, disabled or not, our desires and needs are the same. I thought it was a work of beauty. No exaggeration.

A new phase of the campaign

Today, the campaign enters a new phase. We are launching a new series of short films we have made in partnership with Channel 4. They take ‘awkwardness’ to a new level. I won’t spoil the set–up but all I will say is they are very funny – and each of the shorts are based on real situations that have happened to disabled people.

Take a look at the short films and share them with your friends and family on social media.

The campaign has been worked up after research with a wide range of disabled people – from across the country, old and young,  with a wide range of impairments.

Some of them have chosen to share their stories on our blog; click on the links to read about the experiences of Marie, Emily and Ronnie.

And if you have an ‘awkward’ story of your own, share you story with us on our website or email stories@scope.org.uk.

Together, let’s end the awkward.

Andrew McDonald takes part in the London Triathlon for Scope

Scope chair Andrew McDonald is getting ready to compete in the team relay category of the AJ Bell London Triathlon series on 8 August.

Andrew, who will swim 1.5km in the race, will be joined by Finbar O’Callaghan, a consultant paediatric neurologist at Great Ormond Street Hospital, who will be doing a 40km cycle, and Jonathan Hoare, director of Investor Networks at ShareAction, who will run 10km.

The team has chosen to raise money for Scope and the Cure Parkinson’s Trust.

Andrew, who is a trustee of the Cure Parkinson’s Trust, says: “None of my team has taken part in a triathlon before and so we thought we would begin with the biggest in the world, the London Triathlon.

“We wanted to do it for two causes close to our heart: Scope, the disability charity and The Cure Parkinson’s Trust. Roll on 8 August!”

Mark Atkinson, interim Chief Executive of the disability charity Scope, says: “We’re delighted that Andrew, Finbar and Jonathan have decided to take on the London Triathlon for Scope and The Cure Parkinson’s Trust.

“I know that Andrew will approach this challenge with the same energy and commitment he applies to everything he takes on. We wish them all the best of luck for the event.”

Andrew was appointed Scope chair in October last year.  He had a successful career as a senior civil servant, most recently as chief executive of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.

He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2007 and has incurable prostate cancer.

Sponsor the team.

Alice Maynard on her six years as Scope Chair

In October Scope’s Chair Alice Maynard steps down after six years.

Over the coming months we’ll be marking some of the big changes she has overseen.

We kick off today with Alice describing in her own words the highs and lows since 2009.

In her own words…

I’ve been Chair of Scope since 2008. I’m stepping down this year after two terms.

I’m most proud about how we’ve been able to turn the organisation around financially. Scope wasn’t in a great place. It was struggling to be sustainable. But we turned it around. That has given us the strong foundation to develop a bold, unambiguous strategy, and build an organisation ready to deliver it. We want disabled people to have the same opportunities as everyone else. Everything we do – from our care homes to our campaigns – has to reflect how ambitious we are when it comes to disability. But we have to be financially sound to be able to do this.

My background is in the private sector. Hopefully I’ve helped bust the myth that the commercial and voluntary sectors have nothing to learn from each other. We need to keep breaking down the barriers between the two and bringing learning across the divide.

Our relationship with Disabled People’s Organisations has improved. We’ve put time and effort into being an ally. I was privileged to have the launch of DisLIB as my first public event. If you want to see how far we’ve come, you just have to watch our new video on the ‘social model’. We’re a platform disabled people can use to explain in their own words to the public why thinking differently about disability makes all the difference.

We can be proud of ourselves and what we’re trying to do once again. We have helped people understand what it means to be disabled and the positive contribution we can make to society when properly supported (for instance, in managing the extra costs of being disabled).

The Olympic and Paralympic effect which, though patchy and in some ways hard to hang onto, has changed what people think is acceptable – for instance in access provision in the transport system.

In many ways, life for disabled people in 2008 was easier than it is now – it was just before the financial crisis, laws that demanded disabled people should be treated equally were being strengthened. The impact of the recession and austerity on disabled people and their families has been disastrous, taking away dignity and independence.

I think the future is a challenging place. But there are causes for optimism with the advances in technology that help people communicate, and manage their lives in innovative ways. There are real opportunities with the improvements in the built environment. But we are in danger of losing those opportunities if we don’t actively seek to capitalise on them.

People undervalue disabled people. You can see the impact from hate crime at the extreme end, to just not getting jobs because of unconscious bias at the other.

Scope in five years’ time. Stronger, louder, prouder! You can have as many Chairs in an organisation as you like, but without the volunteers, staff and supporters, nothing will happen.

A piece of advice for the new Chair of Scope? Look after Scope well – it’s precious. Keep it true to its mission in everything it does, use its resources wisely, and you can’t go wrong.