Tag Archives: #EndTheAwkward

“There’s not one single experience of being disabled” – creating our End the Awkward campaign

End the Awkward is back for a third year and once again we’ve based our campaign on the real life experiences of disabled people. Over the past few months we’ve gathered ideas and tested content, through focus groups and conversations with a variety of people.

In this blog, two of our End the Awkward ‘testers’, Jack and Jamie, talk about why it was so important to be involved, their thoughts on the campaign and some of their own awkward stories.

Jamie

I was excited when I was asked to participate in a focus group discussing the future of End the Awkward. The group organisers were keen to hear our opinions and clearly valued our input. We discussed not only the message and overall impression that we thought End the Awkward 2016 should convey, but individual details such as the setting, dialogue and disabilities portrayed. As the group contained people with differing impairments, the discussion highlighted many points that we may not have thought of individually. There is not one single experience of being disabled and I was pleased that our different impressions could help avoid a tired or clichéd message.

Jamie, a young man with glasses and a beard, smiles at the camera

Like many disabled people, I’ve experienced awkward moments around other people who don’t know me very well. This often means a well-meaning person saying completely the wrong thing, or polite people, scared of doing something rude, avoiding me altogether. Sometimes, this makes me feel guilty, as if I was responsible for their awkwardness. I know this is ridiculous, and that I don’t control others reactions, but this limited communication makes me look internally for an explanation. End the Awkward, for me, suggests that this tension does not have to happen. Though embarrassing situations may still occur, instead of worrying about them, we can point to them and laugh.

Several years ago, I was out for a birthday meal with friends, when the staff come over to sing Happy Birthday. Even the sight of this happening to other people makes me embarrassed, so I was already cringing when the waiter asked me to stand on the table. As my impairment includes invisible mobility problems, I couldn’t do this, but the staff mistook this as shyness and insisted that I at least stood on my chair. After some panicked looks from friends and a brief explanation about being disabled, the staff looked absolutely mortified. I told them that they had given no offence and they sang anyway, though slightly nervously. In the end though, I got a free slice of cake, which tasted like a silver-lining.

Jack

With the next phase of End the Awkward on the horizon, what better way to capture some of those life experiences from disabled people themselves, to ensure the campaign is reflective of everyday challenges we might encounter.

Jack smiles at the camera

In July, a selection of people came together to shape some of the latest developments in a focus group. Facilitated by the creative agency George & Dragon, the main purpose of the discussion revolved around new film concepts, which will be targeting young audiences in particular. As shown by past research, one fifth of 18-34 year olds have admitted to actively avoiding a disabled person in conversation. In one way or another, everyone had at least one memorable moment that felt socially complicated.

Whether it revolves around nights out, failings on public transport or people just making life harder than needed, there are still many barriers which make this a necessary campaign. We all agreed that the disabled person in each of these scenarios needed to be seen in an empowered role and not to appear as a victim in any sense.

While I’m not disabled physically, the preconceptions of people about my interests and abilities, as well as reluctance to disclose my condition in many situations means that I sometimes have to meet demands of people like there are no limitations. One day I would like to think there will be no need to always explain basic autism facts, but until then, we need campaigns like End the Awkward to start some of those tricky conversations.

Want to get more involved in End the Awkward? Share your awkward stories with us

End the Awkward is back!

End the Awkward launches tonight (Friday 16 September) at 8.50pm during Channel 4’s Last Leg: Live from Rio, with a brand new TV advert. We’re back to change even more attitudes, with awkward stories and tips from disabled people on how to End the Awkward. 

Scope says H.I.D.E

We already knew that a staggering two-thirds of non-disabled people feel awkward around disability. But our recent research shows that nearly four in ten of the British public have actually avoided talking to a disabled person for fear of saying the wrong thing or being patronising.

At Scope we believe you can’t end the awkward if you’re avoiding people to start with!
That’s why this year, Scope Says hide when you meet a disabled person!

Well, not hide. H.I.D.E.

Text says: "Say Hi, Introduce yourself, Don’t panic and End the Awkward"
Text says: “Say Hi, Introduce yourself, Don’t panic and End the Awkward”

H.I.D.E. (See what we did there?).

Do people hide?

We know that people don’t really hide behind water coolers or jump under tables. This is an exaggerated take on some people’s awkwardness around disability. The H.I.D.E acronym is a tongue-in-cheek way of saying that the solution is simple –  don’t act any differently.

You can’t End the Awkward if you’re not even having a conversation with someone. And think of all the great work colleagues, mates and possible dates you’re missing out on!

Our new polling also shows that awkwardness and avoidance can have a real impact. Nearly 40% of disabled people have hidden the fact that they’re disabled, often due to fear of negative reactions. That’s a lot of people spending time concealing who they are.

What to expect

A man hiding behind a watercooler
A scene from our new End the Awkward TV ad

This year’s campaign will run for the next six weeks with our TV advert hitting Channel 4, ITV, E4 and other networks and a brand new partnership with UniLad – one of the biggest Facebook pages in the world – to help change the attitudes of their huge following.

And as always, disabled people’s experience will be at the heart of the campaign as they share with us their favourite awkward anecdotes and top tips to avoid the awkwardness.

You can stay up to date with everything End the Awkward on Twitter and Facebook using #EndTheAwkward or visiting Scope’s End the Awkward webpage.

“My life is pretty damn awkward” – find out what is making Kelly cringe

Kelly has shared her embarrassing festival tales, is on a mission to make the UK’s most accessible football club and even let us film her when she tied the knot last year!

Now, as part of End the Awkward 2016, Kelly is back to share even more stories that will make you cringe and want to #EndtheAwkward.

Have you got an awkward story to tell? Tell us your story today.

As a generally average British girl, my life is pretty damn awkward anyway so having a disability and using a wheelchair often makes it even more so. The hilarious thing is, it’s often not me that’s feeling awkward.

So many times throughout my life, I’ve been avoided, talked down to and just plain ignored because of my disability. I can make light of it now but it’s actually a really serious and sad issue.

At all kinds of places (bars, hotel, airports, restaurants) people just plain ignore me! It’s the worst! They will do anything from talk to the person with me, blankly stare at me as if I’m speaking a different language and other times just pretend that I’m not there! This is definitely the worst kind of awkward interaction and it can really effect your confidence as a wheelchair user.

It’s hard enough to keep the confident facade going as a young adult as it is, so when throwing a wheelchair into the mix, it gets harder.

Kelly, a young disabled woman in an electric wheelchair, smiles at the camera with her friend

Avoiding the awkward

I’m ashamed to say there have definitely been times where I’ve avoided situations or asked someone else to do something for me to avoid awkward interactions (such as reaching card machines in shops, signing room check-in keys when the counter is literally higher than your head).

I’ve realised, this is simply the worst thing I could do.

I’m the kind of person who likes to challenge myself daily, to the point of painful fear and regret. You’re talking to the girl who auditioned for The Apprentice with no business plan when she was 18! Sometimes I just love being uncomfortable. However, the kind of uncomfortable that avoidance brings is a kind of deja vu uncomfortable that on bad days you just don’t want to deal with.

The good, the bad and the awkward

Sometimes, when I’m out, people will just not talk to me. They will literally avoid talking to me to talk to anyone who is with me, whether it’s my mom, my husband or a friend. They will talk to them rather than me.

There have been times that I’ve been answering back and they’ve been sending their answers back to me via other people, like they are a spirit and I am using the person I am with as a vessel to communicate!

Now I know a lot of my disabled friends have experienced this and I think it’s one of the most common awkward and annoying moments that I experience.

But don’t get me wrong, using a wheelchair definitely also has it’s upsides!

A group of young disabled people in electric wheelchairs pose for the camera at a music festival. They are all wearing rain macs
Kelly and her group of friends at a music festival

As many of you know, I love festivals and I’ve been to most of them. I was recently at a music festival (I won’t say which as I don’t want anyone to get in trouble!) where myself and two others (both wheelchair users) literally just walked into the VIP area.

We weren’t asked if we had tickets or wristbands, we weren’t checked at all. So we spent most of the afternoon enjoying the hospitality that we hadn’t paid for. Thanks to the awkward security guard for not asking any questions!

As some of you may also know, I was an overly rebellious and not always well behaved teenager. At college myself and my friends were caught by the police doing something bad and teenager-like. The police proceeded to arrest all of my friends, except me, and took them to the station. At the time, this really annoyed me! Shouldn’t all police cars be able to transport electric wheelchairs? But now I look back on this and I guess it was a good thing as I got off scot-free!

A group of festival goers (some in electric wheelchairs) pose for the camera
A sunny selfie of Kelly and friends at a music festival

End the Awkward is returning and we want to change even more attitudes around disability.

Got a really awkward story? We’d love to hear about it! Has anyone ever tried to avoid you or acted totally awkwardly around you? Tell us your story today.

What it’s like being disabled and dating online

Lizzy is a 21 year-old who volunteers at a Barnardos project in Bristol, helping children and young people who have experience of health services. She’s been disabled since she was 14, and like many people uses online dating apps like Tinder. In this blog Lizzy shares her experience of online dating. 

I used Tinder for a year or so, and didn’t mention in the description, nor showed in the photos, that I had a disability.

It was something I had thought a lot about: do I tell them or not?

So, I didn’t. Not until we were a little way into talking at least. This received mixed reviews. Some people were completely cool with it. Some people responded with ‘oh my friend’s sister has that’, some asked ‘but can you still have sex though?’ (to which I loved to answer with ‘yes thank you, can you?’).

Some didn’t know what my disability was, and asked questions, and some people stopped talking to me. I was cool with all of those responses.

It left me thinking though, how interesting it would be to have two accounts, one not showing the disability at all, and the other being real about it.

Creating two profiles

I wondered how different the responses would be. Whether it was better for them to see me for who I am, and how I like to dress and look, before seeing me with my disability. Or was it better to be completely open and honest about things?

This lead me to create an account on Plenty Of Fish, where I decided that was what I would do – be honest. I still didn’t show my illness in my photos – instead I showed my smile, which represents me far more than my disability.

However in the bio on my profile, I did write that I have a chronic illness, and that I often need a wheelchair to get about.

Breaking the ice

Underneath that, I cracked a joke, about how it’s a win-win situation, because they wouldn’t have to pay for the gym, they could push me around instead, and me being sat down gives them a good view down my top.

I know that wouldn’t be to everyone’s approval, but I like to insert humour into potentially awkward situations – it breaks the ice.

Being honest about it left me feeling much more settled. As the messages started appearing in my inbox, I felt calm knowing that I’d already put it out there. Calm knowing that if they chose to talk to me, they’d chosen to talk to me knowing the situation; they weren’t walking into this with their eyes closed.

I had so many people comment about how they loved my humour and my easy going view towards my disability, and it made them feel much more at ease.

Some asked questions, they were polite, and genuinely interested. Lots of people were totally fine with the fact I need a wheelchair, and didn’t seem phased by it at all. Others weren’t so keen being seen out with me using it.

Then there was the added stress, of going on a date and getting there without having my carer come in with me.

Good and bad dates

My parents were understandably protective of me, because I was their youngest child, and due to my illness hadn’t had the ‘normal’ experiences of someone my age.  But I wasn’t naive. I knew how to meet people in the safest possible way, I needed to learn, to have good dates and bad dates, to enjoy myself and make mistakes, like everyone in their early 20’s.

I wanted to experience life, and though its true I need so much care and support, I also wanted to break away from that a little and find my own path in dating.

In my opinion, it needs to be discussed more. I’ve had so many questions in my head about what I should or shouldn’t do. And when I ask friends, some say they didn’t know much about it, and had never come across disability in dating before.

Too often people assume that disabled people don’t have fulfilling sex lives and relationships. Nothing could be further from the truth. Read Scope’s A-Z of sex and disability to find out more.  

V is for Vibrator – #EndtheAwkward

Whether it’s your magic wand that grants your wishes or a rampant rabbit that hits the spot, vibrators come in all shapes and sizes and there’s plenty on offer to keep you coming back for more.

Romina Puma, a comedian who has muscular dystrophy, is calling on women to forget diamonds and realise vibrators are actually a girl’s best friend.

In this video and blog, she opens up about her experiences using sex toys and how they can keep her going all night long.

V is for Vibrator is part of Scope’s A to Z of sex and disabilityThis blog contains frank information about sex. It’s meant for people over the age of 16, please only continue if you are 16 or older.

The power of persuasion

I never used to masturbate at all. Probably because coming from a Catholic Italian family you can’t talk about sex let alone touch yourself!

My best friend introduced me to the world of vibrators. She told me to experiment with them, so I could understand my own body. Before then I didn’t think I needed the help of a vibrator but my friend kept saying, “try, try, try” – She finally convinced me!

Being a beginner

So I decided to visit a sex shop. I remember when I walked in there were so many vibrators to choose from – I didn’t know where to start! A shop assistant spotted me a mile off. She was like yep – it’s her first one! She approached me and said “Can I help you with anything?” I said “yes! I don’t know – help!” And she said “This one here is for beginners”.

I came home afterwards and tried it out… And honestly I couldn’t stop! It was like that scene from ‘Sex in the City’ when Charlotte gets a rabbit and the other girls go to her flat to rescue her from using it because she couldn’t stop!

Learn how to pleasure yourself

Using a viComedian Romina Puma delightedly posing with two of her favourite sex toys in her bedroom brator helped me learn so much about my body and which position is the right one to make me come. Now when I have sex with someone I know how I like to be pleasured – how to reach that goal! Sometimes it can be difficult, especially when you don’t have a full relationship with a guy or it’s your first time in the sack together. My motto is if it doesn’t go well, you can always wait until he leaves and then take your rabbit out of the drawer!

For me a vibrator is such a great Plan B! I used to always go out on the pull when I wanted to find sex, but now I’m getting old and lazy, using a vibrator can be so much easier.

V is for Vibrator is part of Scope’s A to Z of sex and disability. Read the rest of the A to Z.

“Everyone close your eyes so you know how Holly feels” – #EndTheAwkward

Holly is currently at university studying to become a teacher. She’s blind and writes a blog documenting her everyday experiences. Here she talks about some of her awkward moments as part of our #EndTheAwkward campaign.

Using a cane

I was using my cane around school, doing the usual left-to-right motions when I accidentally knocked someone with my cane. This person was in the same year as me and she started shouting and swearing at me in the corridor in front of others. I felt really embarrassed because it was an accident. This really did knock my confidence when using my cane and at one point I didn’t use it at all because I was so anxious. I have always felt that when using my long cane it makes me stand out so I don’t look “normal” so as you can imagine, this encounter really did have an effect on me.

“Everyone close your eyes so you know what it’s like to be blind”

It was my first day of year seven, and like everyone else I was very nervous because I was starting a new school and meeting new people. I had my first P.E lesson (I hated doing P.E) so I wasn’t really looking forward to it but I had to do it anyway.
Things were going well until one moment which changed everything. The teacher said to the class “everyone close your eyes and carry out this activity so you know what it’s like to be blind, and you know how Holly feels.” I felt embarrassed and upset and angry. Not only was this wrong, I also thought that people would just have that opinion of me, ‘the blind girl.’
I would just like to point out and say that this is not a representation or a true picture of what it’s like to be blind. Many people that are blind or severely sight impaired, including myself do have light perception or other vision.
The teacher did eventually apologise but this is something that I will always remember.

“She’s blind, she can’t sit there”

A few years ago I was going on holiday with my mum and dad and was pretty excited. We arrived at the airport to check-in etc and when it came to getting our seats, my mum and dad asked if we could sit near the front. The woman behind the desk simply told my parents “she’s blind so she can’t sit there.” They asked why and she didn’t really say. We came to some arrangement but then she said “Does she even have a passport?” Just because I’m blind why would I not have a passport? I’m just like everyone else. I felt quite self-conscious and embarrassed.
Also, why couldn’t she have asked me myself instead of asking my parents for me? Whenever this happens I do speak for myself all the time but it still makes me feel very awkward in situations like this.

You’re blind so how do you have an opinion?

I’ve come across many people that think just because I’m blind, I cannot have opinions or like things that everyone else can. I have often been asked this when I’ve been talking about a band or artist I like, or clothing for example. I’ve been asked when I’ve been on the way to a concert, “You don’t know what they look like so why are you going to see them live?” I do have other senses that I can use to determine my opinion!

How do you play an instrument?

I’ve been playing the flute since I was nine and have been in a band and taken part in many concerts. One thing I often get asked is “how do you play the flute when you’re blind?” I always say “just like you are doing. I learn in exactly the same way apart from the fact that I read braille music.” Disabled people can carry out normal activities just like any other person.

These are just a few of the awkward moments that I’ve experienced, they might not seem awkward to you but there’s so many more that I could include – I just had to select a few!

Personally I think that if you aren’t comfortable with your disability, can’t laugh about it or talk about it then it makes other people feel uncomfortable about it as well. If we share our experiences then we can raise awareness and help #EndTheAwkward

Find out more about our #EndTheAwkward campaign