Tag Archives: experiences

The power of storytelling for Scope

Storytelling is an integral part of Scope’s work. The power of sharing real life and lived experiences through our platforms influences policy and challenges societal attitudes.

In our recent campaign, Now is the Time, parents with disabled children shared their stories of the gaps in support they experienced, from birth to diagnosis.

For National Storytelling Week, four Scope storytellers share the impact of storytelling for them. We hope you enjoy their stories.

Christie “Sharing our story has had a huge impact on me personally.”

As a parent, hearing the words that your child has brain damage, is crushing. For a long time, I could see feel nothing but despair, guilt, anger and bitterness. I fell into a deep depression and couldn’t focus on what Elise needed from me.

Getting involved with Scope and sharing our story made the biggest difference, we met other families who were going through the same as us, they helped me understand that I wasn’t alone, and it wasn’t my fault.

A girl smiling at the camera, being cuddled by a lady. In a room with lots of toys.

Elise started to progress in ways that we never expected. Seeing the way other people with disabilities lived their life and the amazing things they were achieving, made me realise that as long as we adapted life a little and had the right support, there was no reason Elise couldn’t live her life to the best of her ability.

Sharing our story had an amazing impact on us because our friends, family and the followers Elise has on her Facebook page, have read more into what we have to face, like the fight for services, funding and support.

I shared the campaign and then I watched it get shared by so many people. I kept checking online and watching the signatures increase, it was amazing! We had some lovely messages from people telling me they didn’t realise how much we had to face.

Only positive things can come from sharing your story, it helps in ways that you would never think and definitely helps you realise that you aren’t alone in this!

Read more about Christie’s story.

The Ratcliffe family “Support others by telling your story.”

Being a Scope storyteller is a privilege as we are able to share our personal story, whilst understanding that we are also supporting the vital work of Scope.

During our last Twitter Takeover, the number of people who signed the petition call for a Minister for Disabled Children and Families rocketed. We were pleased that people didn’t only like our story, but it encouraged people to take direct action. The needs of disabled people in our country are significant, we all know that.  Telling our story, if it helps to raise awareness, is a good way for us to help.

A family photo of the Ratcliffe family - dads Garry and Kyle, with their four children, three of whom have impairments.

We have really enjoyed sharing our family’s story. It has given us the opportunity to put into words what, to us, has been just part of everyday life. When we get feedback, people often comment on the things people take for granted; family outings or going for a haircut. We have been told that our family’s determination to lead full and fun-packed lives, provides inspiration to others and, if it does, then that is fantastic! What better way to support others by telling your own story?

Read more about the Ratcliffe family’s story.

Menna “Change is needed.”

After re-reading my story, it made me realise the little professional support that parents like me receive after diagnosis of your baby. Also, the lack of support the children get, especially when growing up and wanting independence.

A smiling lady holding a baby.

I’m hoping that by sharing my story it might help the government realise that change is needed, not only for the beginning of a child’s life, but also when a child is growing up.

Read more about Menna’s story.

Sam “Sharing my story has helped me to not feel so alone.”

Storytelling is believed to be one of the most ancient of human activities, it’s easy to see the benefit is not just in the listening but in the telling too.

Sharing my story has helped me to not feel so alone. Becoming a parent of a severely disabled child and the paths you have to navigate because of that, can be very lonely and isolating at times. It’s easy to think you are the only one going through this or blame yourself for over thinking things or feeling down.

A lady and a child sat at a table. A man is next to the lady. All are smiling and looking at the camera.

Discovering that you are part of a much bigger group of people facing the same or similar challenges is empowering and comforting. Listening to other people’s stories helps to put everything into perspective and gain some sense of balance.

I’d like to think that sharing my story has helped the Now is the Time campaign by giving another personal perspective on what becoming a parent of a disabled child is like. There is still much to be learned and improved on in the diagnosis of children, the care and support families inevitably need, and the funding required to give people all the facilities and equipment disabled children may need to live a full life.

I hope my story will help those in positions of power to realise now is the time to support people better. I never want another new mother to be told their baby has “something wrong with them” then be left alone on a maternity ward. That should not have happened to me and I hope it will never again happen to another parent.
Sharing your own story, possibly helping someone else with your words even, is a gentle yet powerful part of a healing process.

Read more about Sam’s story.

We’d like to thank all of Scope’s storytellers, past and present, for sharing real lived experience to drive social change so that disabled people can enjoy equality and fairness.

During National Storytelling Week, we will be sharing lots of different Scope storytellers and telling you how you can get involved.

“Managing volunteers is the best part of my job!”

Tina Taylor is a Volunteer Coordinator for Scope’s Face to Face befriending programme in Halton in the North West. Jo Smyth is a Volunteer Coordinator in the Scope Retail Admin Team in London.

For this year’s International Volunteer Managers Day, we chatted to them about why they love working with Scope volunteers, and give us their top tips for effective volunteer management.

Tina Taylor

Volunteer manager for Face 2 Face Halton
Tina Volunteer Manager for Halton Face 2 Face

I originally got involved with Scope as a volunteer myself. I have a son with Asperger’s Syndrome and wanted to do something to help me get out and about. I was also doing a degree in counselling at the time and befriending other parents of disabled children fitted in well with my existing commitments and interests.

Volunteering with Scope helped me to find a job working with disabled young people in my local area. Once the project came to an end, I was looking for other opportunities and came across the Face to Face role with Scope. I felt that the role was made for me, so decided to go for it, and got the job!

As a Volunteer Coordinator, I organise the befriending programme for parents of disabled children in Halton. All of my befrienders are volunteers, and I’ve got almost 16 volunteering with me at present. Often parents who are being befriended get so much out of it that they volunteer to become befrienders afterwards.

I love working with volunteers and matching up new befrienders with parents of disabled children who need support. It’s really satisfying to see the volunteers enjoying their befriending, and the parents get so much out of it too. Being a volunteer manager is very fulfilling. Getting to see my volunteers’ confidence build has been great and my team has really gelled.

Jo Smyth

head and sholders of woman in park
Jo Volunteer Manager for Scope

I started working for Scope at the beginning of 2016 in the Retail Admin Team. We support Scope’s chain of 230 retail shops and ensure they have the tools and resources required to run effectively.

I have a personal connection to disability and wanted to work for an organisation that is making the country a better place for disabled people. After a few months, I took on a new challenge and became the Volunteer Coordinator for my team.

I have managed volunteers before as part of a national project linked to the 2012 Olympics. In this role I worked with volunteer ambassadors who ran a series of maths and science challenge competitions in schools. I enjoyed this role and was keen to work with volunteers again.

In my team I currently have five volunteers. They’re all from different backgrounds and have different reasons why they chose to volunteer with Scope. I’m a real people person, so have loved getting to know my volunteers. Coaching them and seeing them develop and grow is a really rewarding part of my role. I like to give my volunteers the opportunity to take on additional responsibilities in a safe environment where they can ask questions and try things out. Being a volunteer manager is definitely the best part of my role.

If you’re a volunteer manager, or are looking to become a volunteer manager, here are some top tips from Tina and Jo on getting the best from your volunteers.

  1. Appreciate your volunteers and say thank you for all their hard work. We write thank you cards for volunteers for National Volunteers’ Week, and also organise thanks events and get-togethers throughout the year to show our gratitude.
  2. Value your volunteers’ time and commitment. They give up their time for free and are making a commitment to your organisation. It’s important to respect this, and to allow them to fit volunteering in around their existing commitments. For example, one of our volunteers has some ongoing health issues, so we agreed that she would take a step back from her volunteering activities for now.
  3. Give volunteers opportunities to grow and develop. We both make time to talk to our volunteers about personal development and highlight relevant opportunities to them.
  4. Use coaching skills to get to know your volunteers and to help them work through any issues they may have. Coaching some of our volunteers has helped to work out what their next steps might be for them, such as looking for employment, or taking on a new project.
  5. Be organised! I (Tina) have quite a large volunteer team and I need to keep track of when and where they are doing their befriending. I use my diary to do this, which ensures that I know when my volunteers should be checking in with me, and helps to keep them safe. Being organised helps me (Jo) to keep a note of my volunteers’ birthdays and to make sure I have a card ready for them!

If you’re feeling inspired by Tina and Jo, take a look at our volunteering opportunities.

Find out more about International Volunteer Managers Day.