Tag Archives: research

My physical limitations are often the least of my worries – other people’s attitudes are the problem

Our new report, The Disability Perception Gap, reveals the extent of the negative attitudes that are held towards disabled people – and how many non-disabled people don’t realise the scale of the problem.

Many people have responded to this, sharing their own experiences. In this guest blog, Chloe, who has cerebral palsy, talks about her life as a young disabled woman – and why she became a Scope Role Model to change attitudes.

I like to think that my impairment is a small part of me. In theory this is true, in practice it can be a very different story. Having cerebral palsy and a visual impairment does affect my life and always will do, yet the physical limitations are often the least of my worries. It is actually everything outside of what you would think that is the most limiting, with attitudes being at the forefront of it all.

Subtle prejudice is common, and can be just as frustrating

Negative attitudes towards disabled people are not always the more extreme things that may come to mind. It would be a lie to say disabled people are not faced with hate crimes and people being aggressive towards them. However, attitudes can be much subtler than this. From my own experiences it is so common for people to talk to the person I am with, even if it is about me!

The most recent example of this was when my PA was asked if I would like a copy of the menu in Braille, I was stood right next to her. I personally would not benefit from a Braille menu, but it is amazing the one was available. If the woman would have asked myself then the whole situation would have been perfect and incredibly accessible.

On the other hand, if they are talking to me it can come across as patronising or as if they know what is best for me. I fully appreciate that some people don’t know what to say, but why treat us like we are lower than you just because we have a disability?

Chloe standing in front of students, laughing
Chloe is changing attitudes through her work as a Scope Role Model

We’re seen as not capable of certain roles

I believe that current attitudes can also stem into the roles in society which we are able to play. Sure, we can be Paralympians, motivational speakers or disability activists. In fact I am extremely proud to hold of one these roles.

However, attitudes often limit us to these roles and society forgets we are capable of being their retail assistant, accountant or hairdresser. They forget we have dreams and aspirations just like them over the career we want. I understand that some impairments may limit roles we have to a certain extent but that’s for us to figure out – not to be told by members of the public.

Negative attitudes have made me doubt myself

These types of negative attitudes can have a significant impact. Despite attitudes being the opinions of others, it can make you feel incompetent and less worthy of certain opportunities.

On the other hand, at times it can be hard to justify your own achievements beyond ‘they only gave that to me because I’m disabled’. This is reinforced by the attitudes of other people. It is hard to overcome these views when you are faced with it every day and can be extremely damaging.

It can also lead to moments of doubt, even if this is completely out of character. I clearly remember struggling to walk up a school corridor because I had a cast on which was painful. Two girls, who were several years below me, walked past and for some reason I couldn’t help but be so disappointed in myself.

I’d just become Assistant Head Girl and I was so proud of this but couldn’t help thinking “How on earth are you good enough to be Assistant Head Girl, potentially having younger students look up to you, when you can’t even successfully walk down a corridor!”.

I have learnt that this internal monologue is not true at all, and yet I thought this because of the attitudes I am surrounded by. Fighting them away would have been near enough impossible if it wasn’t for my incredible support network.

Chloe smiles at the camera, with seated students behind her
89% of students felt less awkward about disability after attending a Scope Role Models session

I became a Scope Role Model to change attitudes

So, what is the next step? We cannot go on like this and something must change. In my opinion, improving attitudes can come about by challenging stereotypes which often are deep- seated within society.

We need to open our eyes to the reality of having a disability and that we are not as far forward as we believe. This includes the fact we can play a role within society, but also that having a disability can be hard and can be extremely challenging to live with at times.

Scope Role Model programme is working on normalising disability in schools around the country and I love being part of this. I don’t mind being asked questions by the students and I will be honest with them because this is the only way progress is going to be made. Not everyone has to share their story, but I choose to do so.

Why not see a disabled person as an individual who is just as unique as yourself? A person who is just as capable and who has needs that are just as important. Treat us the same as you would a family member, friend, work colleague or professional. With respect, humanity and belief.

Chloe is a student, writer, disability activist and Assistant Coordinator at CP Teens UK. You can read more of Chloe’s work on her award-winning blog.

Scope’s report is the start of something, not the end. We will be working to better understand how negative attitudes impact on disabled people, and how these can best be tackled.

There’s no single fix for this problem, and as part of our campaign for everyday equality for disabled people, we’d like to hear about your experiences and what you would like to see change.

Will you support our campaign by telling us your experiences?

People think there isn’t much prejudice towards disabled people, but this is my daily reality

Our new report, The Disability Perception Gap, reveals the extent of the negative attitudes that are held towards disabled people – and how many non-disabled people don’t realise the scale of the problem.

In this guest blog, Abbi, who has brittle bones, talks about her life as a young disabled woman – which is far from prejudice free – and why it’s vital that the public recognise this.

It’s May 2018, and my friends and I are on a university reunion weekend in Cambridge, dancing the night away in our favourite shabby student nightclub. As always, my being disabled is a practical consideration of the night – my friends are well-trained in lifting my wheelchair up steps, or dancing in a protective circle if the club is particularly crowded – but beyond that, I’m just part of the group.

Until suddenly, I’m not.

First, I notice a group of boys with a phone camera trained on me, laughing. The boy holding the phone turns the screen to his friend, who laughs too. In the centre of the screen is a video of me, dancing. I shrug it off.

Just as I’m beginning to forget the incident, a man leans down to my shoulder. If I were non-disabled, I might think he was going to offer me a drink, or warn me I’ve got my skirt tucked into my knickers, but as a young disabled woman in 2018, I know exactly what’s coming.

“I just want to say,” he shouts, “I think you’re really inspiring…”

Abbi, a young disabled woman, smiles as she sits in her wheechair

I live my life under the scrutiny of strangers

It’s been four years since Scope’s last report on public perceptions of disability, and I’ve been dancing in that Cambridge club for all of them. Perceptions have changed – but not enough. Disabled people continue to be stereotyped either scroungers, raking in benefits without contributing to society; or inspirations, overcoming all odds to bravely struggle to the shops (and maybe winning a few Paralympic medals along the way).

I’ve lost count of the number of times total strangers have unexpectedly started pushing my wheelchair along streets or across roads, apparently never considering how I would have appeared there in the first place, had I not been able to push myself. I’ve been ‘brave’ in supermarkets and ‘inspiring’ at bus stops; I’ve also been ‘faking it’ in a Blue Badge parking space, and ‘milking it’ at a train station.

I live my life under the near-constant scrutiny of strangers – yet, according to Scope’s recent study, only 22 per cent of non-disabled people still feel there is a lot of prejudice against disabled people, compared with 32 per cent of disabled people.

Until people acknowledge the persistence of prejudice, nothing will change

It’s true that, in theory at least, the UK is becoming more disability-friendly. Accessibility information is often clearly advertised on websites for theatres and events; job applications often reference the employer’s commitment to equality; high-profile court cases such as Doug Paulley’s case against FirstGroup suggest that disabled people can go anywhere, achieve anything.

In practice, even where buses and trains are accessible, wheelchair users continue to be refused access because the designated spaces are filled with luggage or pushchairs. Disabled people have to apply to an average of 60% more jobs than non-disabled people. People with invisible disabilities continue to be berated for using accessible services, or reported to fraud prevention hotlines (despite disability benefit fraud rates standing at under 1% – the lowest of any benefit). Even my own doctors are often surprised that my wheelchair is self-funded, wrongly assuming – like many non-disabled people – that the NHS provides appropriate wheelchairs for free.

It’s easy to see how non-disabled people might believe we live in a largely ‘disability-friendly’ country. The reality is starkly different – as disabled people, and their friends and families, know all too well. And until the non-disabled population recognises the persistence of prejudiced or unequal behaviours, attitudes and systems towards their disabled counterparts, it is impossible for the balance to change.

This report is the start of something, not the end. We will be working to better understand how negative attitudes impact on disabled people, and how these can best be tackled.

There’s no single fix for this problem, and as part of our campaign for everyday equality for disabled people, we’d like to hear about your experiences and what you would like to see change.

Will you support our campaign by telling us your experiences?

The things that people say never go away

Our new report, The Disability Perception Gap, reveals the extent of the negative attitudes that are held towards disabled people – and how many non-disabled people don’t realise the scale of the problem.

Marie is a college tutor, wife and mother whose experiences feature in the report. In this blog, she revisits some funny and not so funny moments, and talks about the impact of negative attitudes.

I’ve got osteogenesis imperfecta, also known as brittle bones. It means my bones can break easily so I use wheelchair, I can’t stand or walk. I’ve experienced negative attitudes throughout my life – some awkward moments you can’t help but laugh at, and others which have actually held me back from living my life.

Because I’m disabled I couldn’t possibly have a love interest

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. When I’m out with my husband Dan, it can be even worse.

Once, when we’d just started dating, we were on the way home from the pub, holding hands and we stopped to look at the stars. What could be more romantic? 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 and 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 he sped off, clearly embarrassed.

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.

Marie and Dan kiss outside the church on their wedding day
Marie and Dan share a kiss on their wedding day

We often hear people making comments. 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. I think when people see us, they can’t quite believe that a guy who isn’t disabled could have fallen in love with me.

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  assumption that because I’m disabled I couldn’t possibly have a love interest.

I was told “We don’t have any jobs for people like you”

When I finished my degree in Health and Social Care in 2011 I didn’t have a lot of luck finding a job. I went to the Job Centre for support and their attitude was “Why do you want to work?” and “We don’t have any jobs for people like you.” There was no help or aspiration.

Being told not to bother working made me feel angry and upset. I’d spent so many years studying, I’d put everything into my degree, I’d worked in the past and I wanted to progress. It made me feel worthless, like I couldn’t contribute towards society like anyone else.

Woman wheelchair user holding a sign saying "#workwithme"
Marie features in Scope and Virgin Media’s employment campaign, Work With Me

I decided not to put that I was disabled on my CV because I felt like I wouldn’t get an interview. I often managed to get interviews but when I turned up I could tell by people’s reactions that I wasn’t going to get that job. I think it was largely because they didn’t understand my impairment and didn’t want to take the chance.

If you’re disabled, it can be difficult to progress in your career too. I’ve had many different jobs and at times I felt like I was being treated like a child because employers didn’t allow me to use my skills and knowledge. I ended up leaving one job. If people aren’t going to accept me for who I am and what I can do, why stay?

The things that people say to you never go away. There have been times where bad attitudes have made me feel like “What’s the point in working?” I just wanted to find an employer who would give me a chance, like anyone else would be given a chance.

This report is the start of something, not the end. We will be working to better understand how negative attitudes impact on disabled people, and how these can best be tackled.

There’s no single fix for this problem, and as part of our campaign for everyday equality for disabled people, we’d like to hear about your experiences and what you would like to see change.

Will you support our campaign by telling us your experiences?

What’s behind the disability employment gap?

This morning, the Government has published the latest data on disabled people in and out of work. So what does it tell us?

We know disabled people are twice as likely to be unemployed as non-disabled people.

We have been calling on the Government to deliver on its commitment to halve the disability employment gap, and to deliver a strategy that tackles the barriers disabled people face in and out of work.

New statistics out today

Data from the labour force survey published this morning shows that around 80 per cent of non-disabled people are in work, compared with 48 per cent of disabled people.

The difference between the two rates is often called the disability employment gap. Today’s results show the gap is 32 percentage points.

You can read our reaction to the labour stats on our website.

Barriers to work

Although the overall employment rate is higher than ever, the disability employment gap has barely shifted over the last ten years.

We know work isn’t right for everyone, and believe everyone’s contribution to society should be valued whether they work or not. Many disabled people tell us they do want to work, but face barriers in society, both moving in to work and in keeping their jobs.

These include things like buildings and transport not being accessible and working hours not being flexible.

Employers

Text reads: 85 per cent of disabled people feel employer attitudes have not improved since 2012

Behind many of these barriers is attitudes employers hold towards disabled people. We know 85 per cent of disabled people feel employer attitudes haven’t improved since 2012.

While employers are legally required to try to make adjustments to support disabled employees, very few employers understand how this requirement  affects them

Falling out of work

Digging a little deeper in to the labour force survey, we’ve also found that disabled people are nearly three times more likely to leave work than non-disabled people.

We’ve also found that people who acquire an impairment as adults are 4 times more likely to fall out of work than non-disabled people This shows how important it is that employers offer support and make adjustments for their employees.

The Government recently published Improving Lives , a consultation on plans to change support for disabled people in and out of work. At Scope, we want to see the Government listen to disabled people’s views and to drive a shift change in employer attitudes and workplace practices in the UK.

Tell us about your experiences

Have you become disabled since you started working?  We’d love to hear about your experiences. Contact: stories@scope.org.uk for more information.

Independent living – “I could be sat in my room for nearly 24 hours at a time”

Ricky is currently studying for a Masters degree in the Theory and Practice of Human Rights. In this blog he describes his experience of living independently while at university.

Before going to university, I knew very little about the operation of the social care system. I had attended residential schools for blind and visually impaired people since the age of 8, where specially trained staff were always on hand to assist if and when required. The prospect of not having someone upon whom I could always call was initially very daunting, but my desire to attend university outweighed such anxieties.

When I was planning to go to university, I opted to use a care agency for my support, as I felt this was a safer option than direct payments. After all, I was moving to a new town and didn’t know anyone in the area.

The idea of going to university for the first time without anyone to turn to for advice, let alone taking on the additional hassle of recruiting reliable support workers was very daunting.  Agency staff, in theory at least, would be vetted and experienced and it would be the agency’s responsibility to ensure that I always had the support I needed.

Theory and reality can be very different

Sadly, as is so often the case in life, theory and reality can be very different.  On several occasions, new staff would turn up at my door without me being given prior warning, something which is especially confusing for someone who can’t see.

The agency would often send staff at the incorrect time, inform them that my shifts were shorter than was actually the case, and would even tell me regularly that they weren’t sure if they had any staff members who could visit me on a given day, which made me feel more anxious than words can describe, given that my family lived in Ipswich, 125 miles away.

On one occasion, I was told the agency had no staff who could come and visit me that day.  When I asked the agency what they expected me to do for food, I was simply told that I would have to make the best of things and that I would be fed the following day!

Half-way through my second year at university, I decided to take the plunge and switch to direct payments. The direct payments system is not plain sailing by any means. It is a constant juggling act trying to ensure that all staff have sufficient hours to keep them happy in the job and there is no guarantee that suitable applicants will respond to adverts.

Direct payments

Nevertheless, direct payments have given me much more flexibility and I have been able to recruit many staff with whom I have a lot in common, so these people are not only my carers but also great friends. A direct payment support service supports me with logistical issues, such as ensuring correct taxation, National Insurance contributions, and pay slips for my staff.

Until recently, I had no more than 22 hours of support while at university and around half this while living at home. This support met my basic needs, but meant that on days when I had no classes at university I could be sat in my room for nearly 24 hours at a time. I therefore had very little social interaction during term-time. This, combined with the problems I had with my previous support arrangements, took its toll upon my mental health.

However, I have recently secured an increase in my hours to 41.5 per week.  As a result of this, I am confident that the forthcoming academic year will allow me to be even more independent and have an even more fulfilling university experience.

Find out more about young disabled people’s experiences of living independently. Read our new research report, Leading my life my way.

“I have always strived to be as independent as possible, but it hasn’t always been straightforward”

Becca runs a self-directed group for disabled young people moving into adult services in Ipswich called Progression Sessions. In this blog Becca describes her experience of independent living.

I have always strived to be as independent as possible, but it hasn’t always been straightforward. This became obvious when I finished sixth form and began to look for work. I had chosen not to go to university, because the idea of spending another 3 years listening to lectures and writing long essays had no appeal to me at all. Looking back, I was very naive in thinking it would be quick and easy.

For three years I had to visit the job centre every other week, relay to them what I had been doing to look for work, and was then sent off on my way.

Was I ever going to find a job?

Eventually, I was put on the Work Programme, which involved the same sort of treatment, with a few extra training courses to attend. I went to many interviews, but nothing ever came from them, and I was starting to get anxious. Was I ever going to find a job? What was wrong with me? How was I going to change? Then there was my worst fear: what if my disability was the problem?

To keep busy (and build up my CV), I volunteered at charity shops and a local media centre, where I wrote film reviews for their magazine. Meanwhile, my friends were at uni, seemingly having a great time partying and studying subjects they loved in new places outside of home. Of course I was immensely proud of them, but I couldn’t shake how isolated I felt in my little, unemployed bubble.

“It was such a relief to finally feel like I was being listened to and, most importantly, supported.”

In 2013 I volunteered for a local disability charity writing blog posts for their e-newsletter every week. The people I worked with were lovely, and I began to feel like I could be useful to society after all. One of my colleagues recognised that the Work Programme wasn’t helping me, and after all the paperwork was sorted out, I began receiving support from a local social enterprise. It was such a relief to finally feel like I was being listened to and, most importantly, supported.

I began a 12 month apprenticeship at the charity I had been volunteering at and undertook a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) in business administration.

The need for better support

Through this experience, I recognised a need for better support for disabled people with independent living, particularly employment. I was also keen to know if anyone else felt as let down by career advisors as I did. Now that my friends were leaving university, it was clear I wasn’t alone in this feeling at all. It’s paramount that support services realise that the support needs of young disabled people can be very different to those of older social care users. However, if support services do not take this into account it can really affect our ability to live independently.

Find out more about young disabled people’s experiences of living independently. Read our new research report, Leading my life my way.

Young disabled people are not being supported to do the things they want to in their lives

Today we launch Leading my life my way, a new research report looking at young disabled people’s experiences of using support services to live independently.

We carried out this research because we wanted to find out what young disabled people expect from care and support services, what their experiences are and to what extent they are supported in different areas of their lives.

Our research shows that young disabled people don’t have sufficient control over their care and support plans and consequently in major decisions affecting their lives.

With this in mind, we designed our research to ensure young disabled people’s experiences and opinions were at the centre, through a series of face to face and telephone interviews as well as a wider survey of disabled people aged 17 to 30.

Young disabled people want to do all the things that every young adult does. But the social care system is letting them down and holding them back in many crucial areas of their life.  This is leading to social exclusion and affecting young disabled people’s wellbeing.

Support with personal care

While access to support is a significant barrier faced by young disabled people, our research found a much more widespread issue of being able to access to support in other areas like employment. Of respondents to our survey, 60 per cent said they aren’t getting the support they need to get into work.

Decision making

A quarter of our survey respondents said that they are either only ‘slightly’ or ‘not at all’ involved in making decisions relating to their care and support plan. This highlights a worrying lack of choice and control young disabled people have in making decisions about how they live their lives.

Information and advice

Our research also found that information and advice services could be improved to better serve the needs and expectations of young disabled people. While a fifth of our respondents would like to access information and advice on smartphone apps, only one per cent are currently able to.

The impact of poor quality information and advice was clear in interviews we conducted with respondents, with many instances of young disabled people not knowing how or where to access meaningful support in areas such as finding a job, managing support using direct payments and finding the right place to live.

Daily activities

A lack of support beyond daily living activities can result in a negative impact on young disabled people’s wellbeing.

Of the young disabled people we surveyed, a majority had experienced a significant setback in their lives such as not getting a college place or somewhere they wanted to live.

Text reads: Two thirds of respondents have had significant social care setbacks that have stopped them living indpendtly. 82 percenthad to wait at least six months for a solution

Of these people, 82 per cent had not had this resolved within six months, despite this being an obligation of local authorities under the Care Act. Such experiences are resulting in many young disabled people feeling that their lives are on hold while they struggle for resolution in specific areas of their lives.

Our research provides evidence that many young disabled people are not being supported to do the things they want to in their lives.

This is a denial of opportunity resulting in many young disabled people feeling they are being left behind while non-disabled friends and relatives leave home, progress in work, continue in education, play an active role in their communities and develop relationships. If we don’t get social care support right then the huge amount of potential young disabled people have in these areas could be wasted.

The Government needs to look beyond funding support for the ‘basics’ in social care and ensure young disabled people are supported to live independently in all areas of their lives.

Read more about our work to improve social care on our website.

Our Creative Future: Thoughts from FutureFest 2015

We attended this year’s FutureFest along with another CharityWorks trainee, Poppy Dillon, Communications Assistant at NSPCC. She kindly agreed to write a guest blog for us, to share her thoughts on the event as someone who doesn’t work directly in innovation.

What is FutureFest?

FutureFest is an event run by the innovation charity Nesta, and is a weekend of radical ideas, talks and immersive experiences aimed to inspire, excite and challenge perceptions of the future. The annual festival took place this March in London and covered seven different strands of the future. These were future democracy, future global, future machines, future money, future music and future thrills.

For those of us who didn’t attend, what was it like?

FutureFest was a circus for the senses, filled with bright lights, whirring technology, claustrophobic corridors and interactive installations. Neurosis was the first thing you saw as you entered FutureFest. It was like every glitzy backstage party that I’d ever imagined as a teenager: walking through a heavy black curtain into windowless cavern in a mist of dry ice, and then this huge machine before you. Balls of lights sticking out of it in all directions. A chair at the top for you to sit in, and immediately be swept away in a kind of neurological adventure.

Neurosis was just the first of a whole collection of scintillating machines and experiences. These included a blind robot, a kissing machine you can attach to your phone and an orchestra which combined sound, taste, touch and smell in an effort to imitate synesthesia. I took part in one of their performances, and it really was as bizarre as you’d imagine.

Chocolates dangling from a frame
Furturistic sweet shop at FutureFest

There was even a futuristic sweet shop with a wealth of exciting new sweets, with textures and ingredients that are potentially soon to become popular (apparently insects and vegetables will be involved). Willy Wonka would have been right at home.

What was the best bit?

What really made FutureFest for me were the speakers. From Baroness Helena Kennedy’s impassioned talk on the future of democracy on an international playing field, to Matthew Herbert’s vision of Country X, the first virtual country, and of course the unforgettable live link up with Edward Snowden in Moscow. All the speakers came from different angles and walks of life but what brought them together was their shared belief that the future could be bright.

So we will really all be replaced by robots in the future?

Nesta has developed a quiz which works out the probability of your job being automated in the future (thankfully my job seems pretty safe, and unlikely to be taken over by robots!) According to Nesta, the good news is that creative jobs are hard to automate, and they say the UK’s creative economy could be its secret weapon, generating a million extra jobs by 2030.

Ije Nwokorie, CEO of brand consultancy company Wolff Olins, was charged with answering the weighty question of the future of creativity in an age of automation. He began his talk with the old folk legend of John Henry, who beat a steam powered hammer in a race to drill a tunnel. After this remarkable feat, John Henry died of the stress and exhaustion; proving that the extraordinary capability of humans is still no match for a machine.

The whole premise of his talk was how, rather than living in fear of some kind of hostile, alienating robotic future, which should rather focus on one of the key aspects that differentiated us from machines: our creativity. And far from sounding like cute PR chat- he was a creative consultant after all- this man’s words had a truth to them. He painted an aspirational image of the future, where in his words, the man who came to check your meter would also be the guy who could advise you on how to sell your spare energy, and the shop assistant at Marks & Spencer’s would also be your style consultant. In this world the number one skill sought after by employers would be your own unique creativity.

What could this mean for charities like Scope?

Ije’s idea of a world in which people’s working time isn’t filled by swathes of torturous admin is a compelling one for all of us working in business environments; especially so in charities, where leaner business mechanisms could lead to more money and time to spend directly serving customers.  Understandably, he was challenged in his vision by an audience member, who asked whether this wouldn’t increase unemployment by reducing the number of staff needed to run an effective business, and leaving people who just weren’t creative thinkers to live on the dole. Something that was on my mind.

However, Ije’s response was simple. Creativity breeds creativity. The more you are challenged in your thinking the more creative and adaptable your ideas will become. And the greater the range and diversity of creative thinking, the more agile and responsive a business can become. Without the day-to-day admin and bureaucratic processes that we know, we can only speculate about how job descriptions would look, how organizations would be structured and how many people would be needed to staff them. Would it spell a re-evaluation of top-down hierarchical models of business? After all, a creative solution could come from anyone.

As for the idea that some people just aren’t creative, Ije’s response was, well, we’ll teach them! With an education system that equips everyone with the tools to harness their own creative strengths, rather than just catering for students who can succeed academically, he believes that this would be possible.

Automation has been redefining the way we work for centuries, but rather than shrinking the job market it creates the space for new work. Just think about the unused creative potential in businesses which is caught up with self-perpetuating admin. And hell, what about the chance to take pride and enjoyment from your work? That alone is worth it.

What was your overall impression – and does the future look bright?

Although the technological display was fascinating, little of it was explained satisfactorily, so it left us hapless onlookers nodding, saying “oh hey, that’s cool”- drifting from invention to invention, wondering why we’d never really paid attention in our physics lessons at school, or whether it would have helped if we had. This gimmicky feeling pervaded the whole event, and jarred perceptibly for me with Nesta’s more serious aims as a funder of public services and digital social innovation. More futuristic than future.

Poppy Dillon

A person using a virtual reality headset
Oculus rift virtual city at FutureFest

Some final thoughts from Scope’s Innovation department.

It’s easy to come away from an event like this questioning how accurate or plausible all these images of the future are and how much of it we could really believe. Will chocolate covered vegetables catch on, and if so, why? What was wrong with the classic chocolate orange?

That aside, FutureFest was a thought provoking event, all about opening up discussions about the future directions it could go in, and directions we might not want to go in! The main message was not just to look at the future as something that only happens to us, but something we can affect and shape more in line with the things we care about. We all have a role in this, charities in particular, and this was a really empowering message. What the future holds, who knows. Guess there’s only one way to find out!

The value of research – commission on extra costs considers evidence

Post from Minesh Patel, Policy and Research Assistant at Scope.

The Commission on Extra Costs is a year-long inquiry that will explore the extra costs faced by disabled people and families with disabled children in England and Wales.

In September, the Commission agreed to focus on the themes of empowering disabled people as consumers, efficient supply and effective market intervention in its approach to driving down extra costs. At the same time they also held an evidence-gathering roundtable that included spokespeople from consumer champions like RICA and experts in getting markets to work for disabled people, including Motability.

Chaired by Robin Hindle Fisher, yesterday Commissioners started narrowing down the areas that they would look at in more detail, and gave thought to the main areas of extra costs that the Commission should look at. In addition, the group began to consider what the solutions might look like in addressing these costs.

  • One of the categories discussed was clothing and bedding, where disabled people may face extra costs through purchasing specialist items, as well as through having to purchase a greater quantity of non-specialist items due to overuse or damage.
  • Energy was another area, which featured regularly in the personal stories of extra costs submitted to the Commission.
  • Other areas included specialist disability products for which disabled people are charged a premium, e.g. powered wheelchairs, and insurance, where a significant minority pay over the odds or are unable to access products that meet their needs.

The solutions will vary according to the area of extra costs, but the discussion touched upon ideas such as:

  • Promoting the significant size of the disabled consumer base as a way to encourage more competitors to enter and thus open up the disability market.
  • Collective purchasing initiatives for things such as energy to enable disabled people to obtain a lower price.
  • The role of digital inclusion and web accessibility to ensure that disabled people can access the best deals that are often online.

The Commission will continue to develop and flesh out recommendations for driving down extra costs. To support this process, a second evidence-gathering roundtable will be held in January that will look at what can be done to increase the availability of and reduce the cost of goods and services in key markets for disabled people.

A million futures: halving the disability employment gap

Today we published a new report exploring disabled people’s working lives. The report – ‘A million futures’ – shows that last year alone, 220,000 more disabled people fell out of work than found a new job.

We wanted to explore why disabled people are struggling to stay in jobs.

Our new research with hundreds of disabled people found that a lack of flexibility in the workplace is a critical issue.

“I, like thousands of others, fall into the grey area of too disabled to hold down a job without health implications, yet not disabled enough to get help from the Government.” – Sarah, Isle of Wight

Nearly half (48%) of the 700 respondents to a Scope survey said that flexible working time and practices could have helped them stay in work.

Many disabled people told us that a key benefit of flexible working is that it can allow them to manage changes in their lives related to disability, or to manage a fluctuating condition, or recover from treatment.

Yet our survey found that only one in three had been offered the flexibility they needed.

“If I’d been given the opportunity, I could have sat down with them and said ‘look, this is what I’m capable of doing, this is what would help me get back into the workplace” – Jane, West Midlands

As a result, too many disabled people and their families find themselves relying on taking sick leave to manage this need for flexibility – often against their wishes.

Over half (60%) of those on long-term sick leave are disabled people. Once in sick leave, it can be very difficult to return to work.

Providing better support for disabled people must be a priority for Government and employers – and can bring benefits for everyone.

For those disabled people who are able to continue working, it means they can continue working, contributing, and taking home a pay packet.

Employers are able to keep hold of the knowledge, experience and contacts that often experienced disabled people can bring.

Crucially, better in-work support can bring benefits to the Government, by rebalancing spending on expensive programmes back to supporting those in work.

For more details, see the full report.

Find out more about our previous reports: