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Scope is a national disability charity that campaigns to challenge and change negative attitudes about disability and provides direct services. The organisation was founded in 1952 by a group of parents and social workers who wanted to ensure that their disabled children had the right to a decent education.
When founded, Scope, then known as the Spastic Society, focused on Cerebral Palsy. Today Scope is a "pan-disability" charity that represents all conditions and impairment.
Scope believes in the social model of disability – that a person is disabled by the barriers placed in front of them by society, not because of their condition or impairment. These can be negative attitudes or physical barriers.
Scope has run national campaigns to challenge negative attitudes towards disability, like its flagship End the Awkward campaign, which tackled the fact that two-thirds of people say they feel awkward around disability.
In 2017 the charity announced its new five-year strategy, Everyday equality, which set out how the organisation would work up until 2022.
It was founded as the National Spastics Society on 9 October 1951 by Ian Dawson-Shepherd, Eric Hodgson, Alex Moira and a social worker, Jean Garwood, with the aim of improving and expanding services for people with cerebral palsy.
From 1955 to 1989, the society ran the Thomas Delarue School, a specialist secondary boarding school at Tonbridge, Kent. Scope still runs schools for disabled children in West Sussex and near Cardiff as well as a Further Education College in Lancaster, which was founded in 1977.
Over time, thanks in large part to the influence of Bill Hargreaves, the first trustee with cerebral palsy, the charity's aims extended to improving and expanding services for people with cerebral palsy and disabled people in general. Bill's pioneering work in employment in the 1950s supported over 1,500 disabled people into their first jobs. In 1962, he set up the 62 Clubs where disabled people could choose and control their own leisure activities. Through its employment services, Scope continues to support disabled people to have the same opportunities as everyone else.
In 1963 it merged with the British Council for the Welfare of Spastics to become The Spastics Society. The Spastics Society provided sheltered workshops and day centres for people with cerebral palsy (commonly referred to as spastics at the time, despite spasticity being a symptom of only one variant of cerebral palsy), who were seen as being unemployable in mainstream society. The Society also provided residential units and schools, as well as opening a chain of charity shops.
The term spastic was long used as a general playground insult. In the 1980s, this became more charged, partially because of the Blue Peter programmes following the life story of Joey Deacon in an attempt to show disability in a positive light during the International Year of Disabled Persons. Consequently, the society changed to its current name, Scope, on 26 March 1994, following a two-year consultation with disabled people and their families.
In November 1996, Scope AGM voted in favour of an individual membership scheme to give a voice to the 20,000 people that Scope and its local groups are in contact with every year – the first major UK disability charity to do so. In 1998, Scope individual members voted in elections to Executive Council. However the first person with cerebral palsy to play a major managerial role was Bill Hargreaves, who had been elected to the Executive Council back in 1957.
In January 2012, Scope replaced its logo with a combination of more than 60 "visions of the future" created by disabled people, their friends and families. Scope has since changed the logo. Scope wants to make disability better understood by the public, at a time when attitudes towards disabled people are getting worse and disabled people are struggling to get the support they need due to budget cuts.
In 2017, Scope launched its new strategy – Everyday equality – which set out how the charity would campaign to support disabled people. The strategy sets out an ambition to offer information, support and advice to two million disabled people and their families every year.
In 2004 Scope launched the Time to Get Equal campaign to banish disablism, which it defines as "discriminatory, oppressive or abusive behaviour arising from the belief that disabled people are inferior to others".
The campaign had three aims:
- To raise awareness of the problems and barriers faced by disabled people in their everyday lives
- To demand an improvement in the attitudes and actions that disabled people experience
- To build a mass movement of disabled and non-disabled people campaigning and working for equality.
In 2014 Scope ran a campaign called End The Awkward fronted by comedian Alex Brooker. The campaign used comedy to shine a light on the awkwardness that many people feel about disability. Alex appeared in three adverts guiding viewers through awkward situations that they may encounter with a disabled person.
Scope's End The Awkward campaign continued in 2015 when they teamed up with Channel 4 to run a series of short films entitled What Not to Do, which exemplified how not to behave in situations including a blind date, a job interview and at the hairdressers. They also created an A-Z of sex and disability.
In 2016 Scope worked with creative agency George & Dragon on a TV ad to launch their third year of End The Awkward, where they introduced their H.I.D.E. concept. The mnemonic which stands for: Say 'Hi'; Introduce yourself; Don't panic; End the Awkward, was also featured in films created with Unilad.
In 2017 Scope partnered with Virgin Media to run Work With Me. This highlighted the problems disabled people faced when looking for work. It also introduced the Support To Work service which provides online advice and support for disabled people seeking work.
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