Tag Archives: Scope

“You never have a bad day at Scope!” – National Volunteers’ Week

Volunteering with Scope led to an unexpected change of career for Lisa. As we conclude our celebrations for National Volunteers’ Week, she talks about what it’s like to be a Scope volunteer and how it changed her life.

What inspired you to become a Scope volunteer?

I was originally a customer at the Scope shop in Lincoln and was asked if I was interested in becoming a volunteer. I wanted to help with the window displays, so decided to get involved. I was nervous as I hadn’t worked in a retail environment before, but the existing volunteers were really friendly and quickly showed me the ropes.

After a little while a vacancy came up in the shop, and I took on a paid role as a Sunday manager. This progressed to me taking on extra responsibilities and around two years ago I became the shop manager.

A shop window display

How have your experiences at Scope changed your life?

I thought my career was heading in a particular direction, but both my area manager and the team at the shop encouraged me to apply for the shop manager role. That gave me the confidence to really go for it. My team are lovely and have been very supportive. They really helped me when I started in my role.

Five years ago, I would never have imagined myself doing this job, but this change has been really good for me. Volunteering at Scope helped to improve my confidence and changed my career path for the better. I’ve had an amazing experience at Scope, I don’t want it to end!

What’s been the most memorable moment of your time with Scope?

I have one almost every day! My team likes to have fun and we do things that are a bit different. For example, we took over the local museum and held a fashion show there.

The volunteers I work with are amazing. In the last couple of years, we’ve helped nearly 30 of our volunteers get in to work. We support them through their training, give them time and support, they even do mock interviews with each other during their breaks. Some local shops now come to us directly when they’re looking for new staff as they know how well we train and support our volunteers.

Scope means a lot to me and I love what I do. It’s such a positive place, you never have a bad day at Scope!

Would you recommend volunteering with Scope to others?

Definitely yes! We’re all about encouraging and supporting our volunteers, and getting them to achieve their ambitions. Volunteering with Scope gives you confidence. We’re like a family and we’re always there for each other.

Fancy giving it a go? Are you interested in becoming a Scope volunteer? More information on volunteering with Scope, and ways in which you can get involved, can be found on our volunteering pages.

It took me 30 years to make myself heard – World Voice Day

For World Voice Day we’re reposting this guest blog by Mandy, from Hereford. For the first 30 years of Mandy’s life, staff caring for her thought she had no awareness of the outside world. When someone finally realised how much she understood, they helped her get a communication device and Mandy was finally able make her voice heard. 

I was born in Warwickshire in 1965. I have cerebral palsy and use a motorised wheelchair, as well as a communication device which I operate with the back of my hand.

I did not get this device until I was 30 years old. Until then, I had no way of communicating except with my eyes and facial expressions.

Mandy at home, with photos of friends and family on the wall behind her
Mandy at home, with photos of friends and family on the wall behind her

Decisions made for me

I went to boarding school and then to a residential college in Devon. This would not have been my first choice, but the decision was made by the teachers from the school. I would much rather have lived closer to my family, but I was not given this option.

Then I moved into a residential home in Essex, 150 miles from home. It was a big home with 30 people in it, and only five support workers.

I used to get very angry and frustrated, because no one ever asked me what I wanted.

The staff and other professionals did not realise how much I understood, so they did not spend any time with me and I was often not allowed to make my own decisions.

It left me wondering – why? I could see other people making their own decisions. Yet I could not, just because people didn’t take the time to get to know me and understand my needs and wishes.

Finally getting a voice

In the late 1980s I moved to Hereford to live in a shared house run by Scope. I had my own room, but shared the house with a number of other people whom I had not chosen to live with.

A support worker noticed how much I understood, and helped me get a communication device. I mastered its use quite quickly, and could communicate properly for what felt like the first time.

This is where I began to feel a turning point in my life. Imagine what it was like – having a voice after all those years.

I contacted social workers, and with the help of my family and key worker, I started to make my case for living in my own home.

I had to work very hard at making people realise that it would be possible – that I would be able to cope with a more independent lifestyle where I could be in charge of my own life.

Mandy in her garden in Hereford
Mandy in her garden in Hereford

My own home

I got involved with Hereford Services for Independent Living (SIL). With their help and that of my social worker, Maggie, I claimed the allowances I needed to help pay for rent and 24-hour care.

I was very fortunate to get a fully accessible bungalow, and in August 2001, I moved into my own home. Now I really began to feel my confidence grow, and I gained more strength to make my own decisions and speak out. I built up a team of personal assistants by advertising, recruiting and interviewing. SIL supports me to arrange my finances as an employer and helps me sort out relief cover.

My support workers work a 24-hour shift, sleeping in my spare room overnight. This means I can organise my day however I choose without having to work around shift changeovers.

I recently completed a college course, and have also taken a creative writing class and written poetry. I have an active social life and often visit friends.

At this stage of my life, I feel more confident, decisive and stronger than I ever have before.

The Scope Film Awards 2015

2015 has been a very successful year for Scope’s film team. We’ve dusted off the disability history books, trained comedians to be spies, kissed awkward goodbye and got all hot under the collar about sex. All in all, it has been one big rollercoaster ride.

We thought we’d mark the end of the year with a mini ‘awards ceremony’ to mark some of our favourite and top films. What have been your favourite Scope film moments?

Most viewed – What Not To Do

We enjoyed a whole summer of ending the awkward. Who could forget our “What Not To Do” shorts made in collaboration with Channel 4? Fronted by Scope Ambassador, Alex Brooker, these six hilarious short films racked up over half a million views on our YouTube channel, thousands upon thousands of views across our social media and became the most viewed shorts on the Channel 4 website.

Most shared – The Disability Discrimination Act 1995: The campaign for civil rights

Last month (November 2015) we delved into the archives to mark the 20th anniversary of the passing of the Disability Discrimination Act. We featured a variety of content on our website for the occasion including a film which collected the stories and voices of some of the most influential campaigners of the time. This film became our most shared video on our Facebook page with over 2,300 shares, over 1,700 likes and over 235,000 views.

Best female – Kelly Perks-Bevington

For those of you who have been following Scope in 2015, you’ll probably recognise Kelly. She has been popping up everywhere, from talking about awkward moments at festivals to stripping off for Enhance the UK’s Undressing Disability photo exhibition. We got Kelly involved in our A-Z of sex and disability. In this film she talks about dating, marriage and sex.

Best male – Adam Hills

The Australian comedian best known for hosting the Channel 4 show, The Last Leg, became a firm favourite when he took on the role of the enigmatic man in black for our parody of the classic Milk Tray advert. With his daring stunts he won the hearts of many, including celebrity actress and singer, Holly Valance in our advert for Great Donate campaign.

Best story – Harrison’s story

We love our story films here at Scope. What better way to capture the incredible stories that are happening up and down the country? Our latest offering focuses on Harrison’s story, a young disabled man with a learning difficulty, who has struggled to find and stay in employment. However, thanks to the specialist support he got from his local Scope employment service, that has all changed.

What’s next?

We’d like to thank you all for your support, shares and likes throughout 2015. We really hope you’ll subscribe to our YouTube channel and join us in 2016 for what we promise will be our greatest year of film yet.

You can expect compelling stories from disabled people and their families, vlogs from some of YouTube’s rising stars and appearances from some well known faces…

If you can’t wait until then, check out our playlist of some more of our top films from 2015 below.

 

Scope’s work and the Zero Project awards

This week, Scope’s projects are being celebrated in Vienna as examples of international best practice.

The Zero Project awards are held every year and focus on the rights of disabled people around the world.  Each year, the Project identifies the most innovative and effective policies and practices that improve the lives of disabled people around themes of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. This year’s themes are independent living and democratic participation. Over 400 delegates from more than 50 countries are attending the awards.

Three of Scope’s projects have been shortlisted for international best practice – Connect to Control, Activities Unlimited and the Access to Elected Office Fund, which we worked with the Government Equalities Office to create.

Connect to Control

“It enables me to communicate and be more independent, which gives me freedom.”

In 2011, Scope launched Connect to Control.  This was aimed at addressing how technological innovations can increase independent living for disabled people. Its key aim was to make equipment cheaper and more accessible for disabled people to allow them more control over their environment.

We commissioned a piece of research with the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at the Royal College of Art called Enabling Technologies to better understand the digital divide between mainstream and assistive technologies and to outline the potential for future inclusive technologies.

The prototype control system was tested by students at Scope’s Beaumont College in Lancaster and 23 students received bespoke systems allowing them to control their environment from their computer for the first time.

The accessible home automation system, based on the Connect to Control prototype, is now available to purchase from Therapy Box.

Learn more about how technology has changed how disabled people live independently.

Activities Unlimited

Activities Unlimited is about making short breaks and activities better for disabled children and young people.  We train and support activity providers.  We help to make sure activities are affordable and that your child can take part with siblings and friends.

Whether it’s sports, arts, dance, drama or a couple of nights away from home, we’ll give you information on what’s available to make sure disabled children can join in and develop their confidence and independence.

In Suffolk, where Activities Unlimited operates, it has transformed the activities available to disabled children and young people.  In 2009 there were 35 short break providers in the county.  There are now around 200 providers of mainstream and specialist leisure activities who offer quality activities to disabled children and young people.  There are 2,700 children and young people registered via the Activities Unlimited website.

Access to Elected Office Fund

As a result of Scope campaigning, the Access to Elected Office Fund became law in 2012.  Disabled people are significantly underrepresented in public life, and the Fund is designed address some of the extra costs they face in standing or applying to become MPs, councillors or other elected officials.

The Fund works by offering individual grants of between £250 and £10,000 to disabled people who want to be selected as candidates for an election, or who are standing for election.

The 2015 Election will be the first General Election where candidates have been supported by the fund.  If you are a disabled person thinking about standing for election, do find out more about the fund and how to apply.

What makes me frustrated? People not listening to me – #100days100stories

John lives in a shared house in Hereford, with support from Scope staff. We first shared his story in December 2014, and we’re republishing it here as part of our 100 Days, 100 Stories campaign.

The night before John and I met, he hosted his 50th birthday party in a local social club. More than 100 people came, from all parts of his life – friends, people he’d met while volunteering, support workers, even his fitness instructor.John in a coffee shop near his home

John lives in a supported living house run by Scope in Hereford, and has chosen to share with two others rather than live alone. He has cerebral palsy, uses an electric wheelchair and has learning difficulties.

Becoming more independent

I met him, along with Lottie, who manages Scope’s service in Hereford, in the café of a theatre near his home. John arrives dead on time, unsupported and under his own steam. When we’re settled, Lottie reminds him that this wasn’t always the case.

“We worked together for about two years, learning how to go independently in and out of town. We’d go into town together – I used to sit in a coffee shop in the centre of town, and you used to go off and cross the road to the newsagents and then come back when you’d bought whatever you needed to buy”.

“We did that for 12 months – you’d have different tasks to do, going into WH Smiths or the bank, and things like that.”

“[Now] I get it all by myself,” adds John.

“You do a lot of things yourself now. Whereas if you go back 10 years, you would have probably spent about an hour a day on your own, and that was only at home, never out. You’ve learnt these skills.”

John and Lottie have worked together for 20 years, and tJohn in a coffee shop near his homehey have a strong mutual understanding. Lottie encourages John in the conversation as talking is quite difficult for John, but he listens and often adds his own thoughts.

Leaving residential care

As a young man, John lived in a large care home for disabled people. It had more than 60 beds, and was out in the countryside miles from the nearest town. John had little control over his day-to-day life and most decisions were made for him, from what to eat to what time to go to bed.

“[It was] horrible. You couldn’t do nothing. There was no town to go into. You’d have to ask the staff to take us out in the van,” he says.

John lived there until his mid twenties, when he moved to a house run by Scope’s community support service. He later became a tenant in the house, which means he can change his care provider if he chooses without having to move out. He pays for his team of support workers out of his personal budget, signing the cheques himself.

“I like to choose”

He is involved in all kinds of activities – from gardening at a local college to wheelchair football, to a music club where he volunteers to collect members’ subscriptions and take the money to the bank. During our conversation, at least half a dozen people stop to say hello to him.

“[In the future I’d like to] do more, like I am now,” he says.

Towards the end of our talk, Lottie asks John what makes him frustrated. “People not listening to me,” he says. “I like to choose. My own food. Be treated normally.

“I do things by myself, but there’s someone there if I need them.”

Find out more about 100 Days, 100 Stories, and read the rest of the stories so far.

Twenty years on: When I joined a newly named organisation called Scope

Writing this blog is going to make me feel very, very old.

Ben Elton with a Scope t-shirtIn 1994, I’d been out of work for 2 years on invalidity benefit (which then became incapacity benefit), but I wasn’t sure I wanted to work for The Spastics Society. It sounded old-fashioned and medical, and there were lots of spastic jokes from my childhood. (Even today if you Google Joey Deaconit will helpfully suggest “Joey Deacon jokes”.)

The promotion from ‘invalid’ to ‘incapable’ hadn’t satisfied me so I was still looking for work. When the Spastics Society became Scope, I decided to apply for its graduate scheme.

My first day was the Monday after Scope’s launch, which had been attended by up-and-coming comic Ben Elton and wispy-haired Minister of Disabled People William Hague.

Minister of Disabled People William Hague at 1994 launch of Scope
Minister of Disabled People William Hague at 1994 launch of Scope

Everyone was exhausted after two years of consultation and preparation for this major event.

The press attacked the charity for political correctness and throwing away a well-known brand. In some ways, it was just correctness. The Spastics Society was never just for people with spastic cerebral palsy, only one of three types of CP. When founding trustee Bill Hargreaves said, “I am a spastic”, it was medically inaccurate (as he well knew) as he had athetoid cerebral palsy.

“What does Scope mean?” asked the critics. The Oxford English Dictionary says, “The opportunity or possibility to do or deal with something”- it’s fair to say that this idea hasn’t gained as much traction as we might have liked. People still ask what does Scope stand for, thinking it’s an acronym. However, despite Matthew Parris’s assertion that people would call disabled people ‘Scopers’ (instead of ‘spastic’) as a term of abuse, I have never heard it.

Although it still used from time to time by high-profile Americans, ‘spastic’ as a term of abuse has become less popular in Britain. If for no other reason, less name-calling and abuse of disabled people justifies us changing to Scope. On top of which, more companies wanted to be associated with us and, more importantly, our name has become less of a barrier for disabled people and their families wanting to use our services.

If ‘spastic’ has become less used over 20 years, lots of new words have come into being. Scope began to use the word disablism in 2002 to describe discrimination against disabled people (a word coined by the disability rights movement many years before but still not discovered by Microsoft’s spellcheck).

Twenty years ago, these thoughts would not have been a blog (1997). You wouldn’t have been able to Facebook (2004) or tweet it (2006).

And there wouldn’t have been a 20-page Kindle (2007) e-book about the story of our name change either.

That’s enough new words – I must get back to twerk.

Amanda’s story: Caring for a disabled child and supporting other parents

Guest post from Becky, who works in Scope’s fundraising department.

Being based in Scope’s office in London, it’s easy to become detached from the day-to-day reality of what life is like for disabled people and their families.

AmandaAmanda and her husband Neil found their lives changed forever when their daughter Livvy was diagnosed with autism and severe learning difficulties at 22 months. A freelance journalist at the time, Amanda had to change direction and, in her own words, she was given “a new path”.

Amanda now works part-time for Scope as the Coordinator for Face 2 Face in Brighton and Hove.

When we sit down in her living room and start chatting I am immediately struck by Amanda’s resilient character. As well as Livvy, now 13, Amanda has three other children aged three to 11, works for Scope and is a governor at two of her children’s schools.

But despite her obvious strength, I’ve no doubt that things must have been very difficult for Amanda at times.

Livvy developed epilepsy aged five and has tonic seizures every day which Amanda says are “really horrible”. This means that Amanda and Neil have to monitor Livvy during the night, taking turns to care for her.

Recently Livvy has had to spend more and more time in a wheelchair, and has lost some of her communication skills. But it is the spontaneity of Livvy’s seizures which seem to have the biggest effect on Amanda, and it is the only time during our meeting that I can sense any vulnerability in her.

Family holidays are out of the question as it would be too overwhelming for them to take Livvy away overnight. Amanda tells me that she would be really nervous about something happening, and so they use some of the time Livvy spends in their local hospice, Chestnut Tree House, as a safe holiday instead, with the family going along to stay with her.

Amanda says that getting support for Livvy from her local authority has not been difficult, because Livvy is so severely disabled. But this is not the case for a lot of the parents she meets – many of whom are struggling with the system, and have to fight for everything.

Amanda is a powerful spokeswoman for these parents – definitely someone I would want to have on my side if I was a parent of a newly-diagnosed disabled child.

When I leave the family’s house I feel uplifted by Amanda’s story. Her outlook on life and appetite to achieve positive change for disabled people reminds me why I chose to work for Scope.

I was bullied because I’m disabled – part 2

Trendsetters is Scope’s project for young disabled people. In November we posted a blog and video about being bullied because you’re disabled.

We caught up with the Trendsetter who made the video to find out how things are going now.

Your film has had around 9,000 views so far. How do you feel about this?

It amazes me that we’ve had over 9,000 views of the film. I don’t think any of us expected the response to be this great, especially as there was nothing that we could find on the internet about disability bullying.

You mentioned in the past that you wrote about your feelings. Was this helpful in dealing with the experience of bullying?

The poetry I write helps me deal with what happened to an extent. It was very useful when talking to the guy at school because I found it really hard to just talk about the bullying at first, so knowing he already knew took the pressure off me a bit.

Might other young people find this helpful, especially if they haven’t got someone they can easily confide in?

It can be really helpful to write about how you are feeling, but it will only get better if you tell someone, whether that’s a friend, a teacher or your parents.

What would you say to teachers about bullying?

If you are a teacher witnessing bullying don’t just stand there, actually do something to stop it, but in a way that is not going make it worse for the victim.

Groups offering emotional and practical support

This is the first of a series of occasional blogs from the Scope Helpline so we would welcome any suggestions as to what info you would find useful, what you want to know about the Helpline and Scope.

Although we are the national helpline for Scope and the first point of contact for most enquiries, we are quite small. We have two new staff starting in September which will take us up to seven staff and we deal with an average of 1,200 phone calls and 400 email/website enquiries per month.

The Helpline is central to information production within Scope so if there is a disability-related issue that you feel we should have further information on, please let us know. We cannot promise but all sensible suggestions will be considered.

We have noticed an increase in the number of people looking for emotional and practical support from people in similar situations. It’s not just adults – many disabled teenagers who are struggling to come to terms with their impairment, feel that they could benefit from a mentoring or befriending service and being in touch with disabled role models. At Scope we have a number of exciting peer support projects that people can get involved with:

  • For parents of disabled children we run a network of support groups called Face 2 Face.
  • Young disabled people between 10 and 18 years old can join the Trendsetter’s group.
  • Over 50s in Wakefield can join the Our Generation service that offers one-to-one support for disabled people and people with long-term health conditions.
  • Everyone can get involved in the Scope Forum and talk to others online.

We’d love to hear what other peer support projects you would recommend, and let us know what areas you would like to see us talk about using the comments section below.